You know you can sing. You really know you have it in you, but somehow, you are unable to hit the high notes. You're good, but you're not great.
You do not seem to get the right keys, and you wonder why.
Well, you know how Jason Dunford stays at the top of his game? He practices. He keeps at it constantly, despite knowing just how good he is.
It is the same thing as any other craft. Practice makes perfect and masters of the craft are just the people who've practiced the most.
Singing Exercises To Help With Your Tune
So how do you perfect your singing and vocals?
Well, there is regularly singing of course. If you have a song in your head, sing it out.
Join a band or take a class, go for practice, and be consistent. But apart from that, there are also singing exercises that can greatly improve your vocals, and this article is here to guide you on which ones they are, and how they are done.
So sit back, relax, and take good notes. Doing these 17 tips every day will make you a singing superstar.
1. Warm Ups
Now, even before starting out on an ordinary body workout, you have to warm up with stretches first, right?
Or, think of it this way - Before you start cooking, you chop up your ingredients first.
Well, it is the same with singing exercises too. You have to prepare your vocal chords and larynx first. Your voice needs all that tender loving care, does not matter whether you are the bass in your group or the lead singer in a metal rock band. So how do you warm up?
• Head rolls
For head rolls, drop your head to the left side then rotate it slowly to the right. Let it drop to the back, then repeat the same process again.
But be careful not to let your head hang too far back, since it could end up straining your neck and the whole point of the warm up and workout would be lost.
• Shoulder rolls
This one is pretty simple. Just roll your shoulders up and down, then pull your right hand over your head, and repeat the same thing with your left arm. Do this till you feel your shoulders are relaxed.
• Face massage
A face massage basically helps relax your facial muscles, thus releasing the tension and helping you feel more relaxed.
Start from your jaw, head on up to your ear up to your eyebrows and forehead, then down to your chin again, all the while rubbing in small gentle circles, and preferably with your eyes closed.
Breath in, slowly and gently, through your mouth, and let the air hit the back of your throat softly. Do this again and again, till you feel relaxed enough to begin your singing exercises. There are many more breathing techniques you can follow to improve singing ability, check some of them out now.
Quick Tip: Learn how to sing with your diaphragm for master breath control!
Kid Cudi’s hums cum to mind here, right? You know how soothing they sound yeah?So that is the same thing we are trying to achieve here.
Humming is great for your voice, it helps to stabilize and soften it. Keep your lips pressed together softly, teeth apart, and make a humming sound.
3. Words Ending in 'Ngs'
The word 'sung’ is the key we will go by here The last two letters, 'ng’ are what you should try and make.
This sound is achieved with the soft palate and tongue working together. It provides back pressure, while at the same time transitioning between lower and upper registers (chest and head voices) a bit easier.
4. Solfege Practice
“Do- re- mi- fa- so- la- ti- do!” Remember that sweet little song from The Sound of Music? it makes up one of our very trusted singing exercises.
Starting on the middle C, sing through the whole solfege, up and down, and be attentive to each pitch and how it sounds.
Can you do this without a piano? Even better! Since this will help with your ear training.
Solfeges not only help with your voice, but in sight training too. Talk about killing two birds with one stone, right?
5. The "I Love to Sing!" Method
Yes, you love to sing! Now can you say that? Actually, can you sing that?
This affirmation not only helps you to actually believe in your vocal prowess, but also assists with creating your range.
Now, you should start at a low Bb3, and sing “I love to sing!” with a big smile on your face, because this will help your mind create a happy tune, one that is clear and bright.
Start at the root, hit the octave, then come back down. This singing exercise helps you test and extend your vocal range, thus it should be done fast and all in one breath.
6. "Nays" Method
Nasty nays are done by using the word 'nay’ on a bratty sound. This singing exercise, much like lip trills and straw glides, helps with cord closure too.
The exaggerated sound helps to rise into the upper register without the disappointment of cracking.
7. Lip Buzz
This vocal exercise is pretty easy.
Start with pressing your lips together and vibrate them, with no pitch at first. Next, add a bit of pitch to the lip buzz and vibrations, and hold it after 3- 5 seconds. Your pitch can go up, down or even stay on the same note.
If you are feeling a funny tingly sensation in your nose, cheeks and forehead, you got it right. If not, try again.
This singing exercise helps to build your breath and support while singing, it basically gives you more stamina throughout your singing session.
8. Mah- may- me- mo- mo
This is a favorite for a lot of singers, since it generally helps you sing better.
Pick one monotone and stick with it all through as you sing “mah- may- me- mo- mo” all nice and slow.
Make sure you really bring out the M’s. Also, start low, probably at a A3, and sing up the scale to an octave.
If you can do it in one breath, that would be perfect, but try not to push yourself. Try slowly till you get there.
Focus on your intonation, since the whole point is to create the best vocal sound possible!
9. The Siren
This is among the easiest singing exercises ever!
I bet you know what a fire engine sounds like, right? Well, try and imitate that, with your voice.
Start at the lowest note possible in your range, then go up, touching on every note in your range, till you get to the top.
It is also possible to do this exercise in reverse too, that is, from high to low. Now, if you are not able to hit both the high and low notes, then it means your vocal chords are fatigued, and you probably should not push them too hard, it is time to take a rest.
10. Glides Through a Straw
Get a little stirring straw, you know, one of those you keep in your random kitchen drawer, and blow air through it, all the while phonating glides up and down and going through your range.
The pressure from the back created by the straw’s resistance will press down on your vocal chords and help get rid of any puffiness you might have, which is a major issue for most singers.
11. Lip Trills
This is a bit similar to the straw exercise explained above.
For lip trills, though, you blow air through your closed lips, but keep them relaxed, not tight as is the common misconception, and sing an 'uh’ vowel underneath it.
Your lips should be trilling. The resistance formed by your closed bubbling lips helps maintain something called 'cord closure’, which is an integral part of your singing experience.
12. Creaky Doors
Creaky doors are some of the greatest singing exercises ever since they help to build and maintain the proper type of cord closure.
Try to make a bit of an edgy sound, you know, like a creaky door opening or a rusty old gate. Try and do this with very little to no air, but also, make it not sound squeezed or too breathy.
13. Hooty Gees Method
Hooty gees' are the opposites of nays, and have proved instrumental for singers who experience tension, especially before a performance.
So, say the word 'gee’ in the dopiest cartoon voice you can pull off. The consonant 'g' helps with cord closure too, due to the back pressure created.
The coordination of this with accessing of your upper register is vital in healthy singing. Once you are comfortable with this exercise, you can sing on your own natural sound.
14. Co Coos
This singing exercise is especially crafted for working the upper register. The 'coo’ sound can be hooty, like those of an owl- Do not worry, this will not bring you any bad luck- and it helps with working on those high notes in different ways!
'Aahs’ are very important for singers who have weak vocals or find themselves tiring quickly. You can further amplify this sound by sticking your tongue out ever so slightly.
This exercise should be done on a lower registry, in a five tone scale. Use only a little bit of air since you do not want your sound to be all breathy.
16. Googs and Mums.
Googs and mums are best done when you have achieved proper cord closure and ease of sound production.
’Goog’ has a hard consonant and a vowel that can stabilize your larynx.
Maintain the vowel in your upper register, since widening it may bring about tension. This exercise is slightly more advanced than the rest, so make sure to do it among the last, as a sort of finishing touch.
17. Oooh- oh- uh- ahs
This vocal exercise helps you go from a narrow vowel to a wider one, and thus helps you get into your upper register seamlessly.
Slowly, open towards the wider vowel but keep the same pace with the resonance. If your tone gets too loud or comes off strained, then start again from the narrow vowel in order to achieve your balance again.
Other Important Tips Besides Just Doing Daily Vocal Exercises
Of course, apart from these singing exercises and regular practice, there are still a couple of things you should do to ensure that you wow all those people you are performing for-or even just sound good in the shower.
• Avoid smoking
Smoking, apart from generally being unhealthy, can greatly affect your singing voice. See, it weakens the lungs; basically your respiratory system, so you will find yourself running out of air a lot, which affects how long you can sing, and how high your voice can go safely.
It also affects your throat, making it scratchy and all.
• Keep away from cold, sugary drinks
These too will damage your throat, and chest too, since they can cause chest infections. Plus you will find yourself constantly clogged under the effects of a cold / flu, which make your voice all dry and wispy.
• Drink lots of warm fluids
Warm fluids help unclog your pipes, quite literally. They open up your vocal chords and respiratory system too, which helps give you a much clearer voice. You can also try squeezing in some lemon into it, or mint and other such citrus-y fruits and herbs into it to be more efficient.
Christina Aguilera mentions in her online masterclass course that she sucks on honey during her performances too, which is definitely something to try!
Have you ever wondered why you sing so well in the shower? Because all the steam around you not only opens up your pores, but your chords too. Win-win if you ask me, you get clean and you get to sing!
Yes! Water keeps you healthy, water gets your body functioning, skin glowing etc; it is literally the best thing you could do for yourself, and your body, and throat too, will thank you too.
Especially if you are down with a flu, water will help clear it much quicker. So always keep a water bottle with you, and watch it water your voice into a flowery garden of beautiful notes.
With all these tips on the perfect singing exercises and other things to follow and observe, you are assured of leaving people’s jaws on the floor in absolute awe with that fabulous voice. So practice, perfect, and sing away!
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As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.