Video: vocal exercises to increase range

Video: Vocal Exercises to Increase Your Range | Singing Tips

Singers, ready to reach those high (or low!) notes? In this video, teacher Arlys A. demonstrates some easy vocal exercises to use as you work on increasing your range:

Video Recap: Vocal Exercises to Increase Your Range

Try incorporating these exercises into your practice routine:

  1. Lip bubbles or lip trills
  2. The “oooh” slides

From there, work with your voice teacher to find songs at the right level for you — it’s crucial to find the balance of challenging yourself, but not straining your voice!

Here’s an idea of what your voice teacher may work with you on, as described by teacher Emmanuel N:

  • First step: Discovering your current vocal range is our first step. I will play a virtual piano, and you will sing each note I play (if you have mimicry then this will be easy) until we have found your vocal range. If you know your range already then we skip this step.
  • Second step: We then discover your weak spots – where your voice sounds weak, where you have trouble, and where you need help. After this we can then start to increase your vocal range.
  • Third step: I will then teach you and give you tips and suggestions on how to sing lower or higher – depending on what you want. Here is where our lessons will vary completely seeing as each student is different.
  • Fourth step: Every time we discover a new voice I will teach you to bridge your voices together so there is no gap between them. Typically this is our last step with each voice.

Not sure of your current vocal range? We love this video, which you can follow along with to determine your vocal range in one minute:

Make sure to stand up straight and fully support your voice as you’re working on these exercises, too. Posture can make all the difference!

Additional Resources About Increasing Range:

Want to learn more? Check out our live, online singing classes taught by Arlys and other awesome singing teachers!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

MO - 30 Fantastic Musical Theater Audition Songs Just for Kids (6)

30 Fantastic Musical Theater Audition Songs Just for Kids [Videos]

MO - 30 Fantastic Musical Theater Audition Songsfor Kids

Last month we shared our recommendations for age-appropriate audition songs for teens, but if your aspiring star is a bit younger, we’ve got you covered too! In this article, voice teacher Molly R. shares her top picks for musical theater audition songs for kids…

 

There are so many opportunities for kids that love musical theater these days! The popularity of the “junior” editions of big Broadway shows is steadily increasing, for one. There are also several companies across the country that specialize in showcasing kids and only kids, as well as tons of musical theater summer camps.

Needless to say, it’s super exciting to be a young performer. However, one thing that remains tricky is finding suitable repertoire that is both age-appropriate as well as fun. Don’t worry — I’ve got you covered!

But First, a Few Things to Keep in Mind…

Many of these songs that I recommend are NOT from Broadway shows, but are definitely casting director-approved. Generally, there is more flexibility with kids’ repertoire as there aren’t as many roles for them. That means Disney movies, old standards, and novelty songs are some other styles will sometimes work just fine, unless the production team says otherwise.

Most of all, casting directors are looking for performers who can prepare good material and perform confidently, and often won’t be as specific in their audition requirements with kids as they are with adult actors.

While some of these songs in this list are meant to be sung by a specific gender, there are also several songs that work beautifully for either! So let’s dive in — here are 30 great musical theater audition songs for girls, audition songs for boys, and audition songs for kids in general.

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Girls

1. “I Always Knew” — Annie Warbucks

2. “Home” — Wonderland
3. “The Girl I Mean To Be” — The Secret Garden
4. “Born to Entertain” — Ruthless! The Musical
5. “Let Me Entertain You” — Gypsy
6. “Sayonara” — How to Eat Like a Child

7. “Reflection” — Mulan
8. “The World Above” — The Little Mermaid
9. “Gee, I’m Glad I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me” — Anne of Green Gables

10. “On the Good Ship Lollipop” — Shirley Temple

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Boys

  1. “Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun” — A Christmas Story: The Musical

2. “A Round Shouldered Man” — The Secret Garden
3. “My Best Girl” — Mame
4. “Gary, Indiana” — The Music Man
5. “Different” — Honk!
6. “Getting Tall” — Nine

7. “Electricity” — Billy Elliott
8. “Little People” — Les Misérables
9. “The Bare Necessities” — The Jungle Book
10. “A Letter from Charlie Bucket” — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Girls OR Boys

1. “When I Grow Up” — Matilda the Musical

2. “The Tree” — The Me Nobody Knows
3. “Who Will Buy?” — Oliver!
4. “Getting to Know You” — The King and I

5. “The Ugly Duckling” — Hans Christian Anderson
6. “Be Kind To Your Parents” — Fanny
7. “I Love to Laugh” — Mary Poppins
8. “Happiness” — You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

9. “I Won’t Grow Up” — Peter Pan
10. “Put On a Happy Face” — Bye Bye Birdie

Final Tips for Aspiring Broadway Stars

Some of these songs are more complex than others, so it’s crucial that kids work closely with a voice teacher to prepare their chosen audition pieces. In addition to musical accuracy, your young actor will impress their panel if they really know what they are singing about— so it’s a good idea that they do their homework as far as researching the character and show, too!

Confidence is key, and a voice teacher can certainly help with that. TakeLessons does a wonderful job matching up kids with the perfect teacher, and it’s easy to find one who is either nearby, or teaches online.

Have fun exploring these fantastic audition songs for kids, and break a leg!

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

How to Record Yourself Singing

How to Record Yourself Singing (& Still Sound Great) Without a Pricey Microphone

Singers, How to Record Yourself Without a Pricey Microphone

Singers, do you ever record yourself singing? It’s a great idea as you practice. But what if you don’t have a top-quality microphone or video camera? Don’t fret. In this guest post, Jesse from Hear The Music shares some helpful pointers…

 

 

Many voice teachers encourage their students to record videos of themselves singing, as you can review them afterward and identify ways you can improve.

But if you’re just starting out, you may not want to spend hundreds of dollars on recording equipment to do this. You may be wondering, “How do I record myself singing — and still sound good — with only tools I already have?”

Luckily, all you need is a laptop with a webcam or a smartphone!

Here are some helpful tips on how to make yourself look and sound as great as possible.

Positioning

Music videos, like the ones you see from your favorite artists, often incorporate all sorts of wild camera angles, swooping shots, and fancy visual effects. Going on the assumption that your video will be used for self-evaluation and improvement, none of that is necessary.

Instead, keep it simple. Position your camera about chest level and try to get your entire body in the shot. If your foot is out of frame, you may never know that you subconsciously tap your foot as you sing.

One of the limitations of using your phone or laptop webcam is that the microphone and camera are attached to each other. Normally the microphone would be right in front of the singer, and the camera a ways back. Finding the best positioning for this setup is a bit of a balancing act. You want to be able to see as much of your body as possible, while also keeping the microphone close enough to record at a good volume.

If you’re having trouble getting a good balance, you may want to record yourself singing the song twice: once to watch your body movements and mannerism, and another with the camera much closer to get a good recording of your voice.

Simple Room Acoustics

Acoustics are the properties or qualities of a room that determine how sound is transmitted in it, and it is literally a science.

Some basic rules are:

  • Don’t record in a small room with flat, square, bare walls. This causes the sound waves to bounce all over the place and mess with each other. Larger rooms with furniture, carpet, curtains, and wall coverings will make your recording sound much better.
  • Eliminate all the background noise you possibly can. Keep kids and pets out, close doors and windows, turn off the TV and unrelated music, wait until the construction crew outside your window stops jackhammering.
  • If the room still sounds echoey, throw some pillows against the wall and hang up some blankets. They make great cheap acoustic panels.

How to Record Yourself Singing – Best Practices

Keep in mind you’re making a video to showcase and critique your singing abilities, not trying to win a VMA award. (Yet.)

Here are some simple best practices to get you started:

  • Look into the camera. This is the same thing that you (hopefully) will be doing when you perform for other people, so you want to know what it looks like to them.
  • Sit or stand naturally. Don’t tense up just because you are being recorded.
  • Don’t wear distracting clothes. Clothes with lots of stripes or funky patterns may not record right and create some weird effects. Plus you want to be able to focus on you and your music, not your outfit.
  • Beware of your background. Try to have a neutral, plain-looking wall behind you. Same idea as your clothes. You want the focus to be on you and your music.
  • Use lots of light. You want to have plenty of light shining on you from the sides and from behind the camera, but not from behind you.

Next Steps

Once you get the hang of recording yourself and are confident in your abilities, you may want to start looking into producing a higher-quality music video for other people to enjoy.

The easiest way to get a dramatic increase in your recorded music quality is to use an external microphone. These days you don’t need a large expensive home studio system to get great results. Great microphones that simply plug into your computer via USB can be found for less than $100. The improvement will be immediate and glorious. Before you go out and buy something, though, you need to know how to find the best microphones for singing.

Once you have a good microphone, you can use a better quality video camera. In fact, you may already have a great one and not even know it!

When you have those two pieces of equipment you will be able to create videos that rival 90% of the music videos on YouTube! So what are you waiting for? Start recording today!

jessePost Author: Jesse
Jesse owns Hear The Music, a blog dedicated to helping people find great music, and helping them learn to create their own. On his site he offers advice to artists recording music at home, interviews with YouTube stars, and helpful reviews of recording equipment.

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

How to sing better (almost) instantly

Video: How to Sing Better (Almost) Instantly | Singing Tips

Want to sing better… almost instantly? Learn to be a great singer — fast! — with these tips from voice teacher Arlys A.:

Video Recap – How to Sing Better (Almost) Instantly

There are two foundations of singing you should know if you want to become a better singer! Can you guess what they are?

(1) Posture

Make sure you’re not slouching! Your body is your instrument, so keep an eye on how you’re holding it! Stretching and physical activity can also help you loosen up.

Additional Resources About Posture:

(2) Breath

Once you’ve situated yourself, focus on your breathing. Avoid shallow breathing — you should feel your ribcage open as you breathe in. This will instantly change your sound for the better!

Additional Resources About Breathing for Singers:

Want to learn more? Check out our live, online singing classes taught by Arlys and other awesome singing teachers!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

30 More Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings

30 MORE Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings | Love Songs

30 MORE Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings

As a wedding singer, choosing a song that represents the couple and their love story can feel like a lot of pressure! As you’re working with the bride and groom, here are some ideas from voice teacher Molly R. for choosing the perfect song to sing…

 

Love is in the air! Before you know it, June will be here — the busiest month of all for weddings.

If you’re a singer, you might already know how fun (and let’s face it: lucrative!) it can be if you offer wedding gigs.

Sometimes, the happy couple knows exactly what they want as far as the song goes. But often, they are certainly open to suggestions from the professional!

Before you decide which songs to sing at a wedding, think about the following:

1. Consider the couple.

If the bridge and groom are young and hip, a Josh Groban song might not fly! Likewise, if it’s an older couple, they may want an old standard. If you know the couple personally, you might already know what kind of music they like. Browse through my recommendations below and offer them a couple of ideas to go from.

2. Consider the ceremony.

Another important thing to consider is whether the event is super formal, or more casual. A beautiful classical song is ideal for a formal wedding in a church, but you may want a more current love song for a backyard wedding with a more laidback vibe.

3. Consider your own strengths.

The final thing to consider is… YOU! When selecting any song, you have to think about your voice type, vocal ability, and styles that you sing comfortably in. A Handel aria would be out of some pop singers’ ability, and likewise, an opera singer may sound completely awkward singing the Beatles.

Now that you’ve put some thought into it, take a look at my recommendations below. There’s a lot more where these came from, so just use these as a starting point!

Traditional/Classical Songs to Sing at a Wedding

1. “Let the Bright Seraphim” – Handel

2. “Panis Angelicus” – César Franck
3. “Ave Maria” – Bach/Gounod
4. “Bist du bei mir” (If you are with me) – Bach
5. “Irish Wedding Song” (Traditional)
6. “Ich Liebe Dich” (I Love You) – Beethoven
7. “You Raise Me Up” – Josh Groban

Pop Songs (Old and New) to Sing at a Wedding

1. “We’ve Only Just Begun” – The Carpenters

2. “At Last” – Etta James
3. “Just the Way You Are”- Billy Joel
4. “I Can’t Wait” – Ben LaRue
5. “All of Me”- John Legend
6. “Could I Have This Dance” – Anne Murray
7. “Here and Now” – Luther Vandross
8. “Here, There and Everywhere” – The Beatles
9. “Thinking Out Loud”- Ed Sheeran
10. “From This Moment On” – Shania Twain

Broadway and Movie Songs for Weddings

1. “Sunrise, Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof”

2. “Someone Like You” from “Jekyll and Hyde”
3. “Till There Was You” from “The Music Man”
4. “One Hand, One Heart” from “West Side Story”
5. “A Thousand Years” – Sung by Christina Perri, from “Twilight”
6. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Elvis Presley, from “Blue Hawaii”
7. “Evergreen”- Barbra Streisand, from “A Star is Born”
8. “There You’ll Be” – Faith Hill, from “Pearl Harbor”

Duets to Sing at Weddings

1. “Endless Love” – Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

2. “It’s Your Love” – Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
3. “The Closer I Get to You” – Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway
4. “E Più Ti Penso” (The More I Think of You) – Andrea Bocelli and Ariana Grande
5. “Lucky” – Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

If you’re having a hard time deciding on a song, check in with your voice teacher. Brainstorm together, keeping your vocal strengths in mind, to really come up with something that’ll impress the bridge and groom! Your teacher can also help you prepare for the big event so you feel confident.

Most of all, have fun with it! Weddings are beautiful, and it’s such a great feeling knowing you’re contributing to the experience of both the bridal party and the guests. Enjoy it!

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Photo by Krystian Olszanski (with text overlay)

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

MO - 50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens (7)

50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

MO - 50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

As a teen, it’s important to choose an audition song that not only shows off your voice, but is age-appropriate! Here, voice teacher Molly R. shares a few tips for selecting your song, plus 50 top picks for musical theater audition songs for teens (both girls and guys!)…

 

It’s wonderful to be a teen musical theater performer! There are so many great opportunities for this age: high school productions, community theater, and even professional theater for a lucky few.

But it’s not always easy to select the perfect musical theater audition song. In this post, I’ve listed my recommendations for audition songs for boys and girls, but you’ll also want to keep a couple of things in mind…

1) What is the production staff looking for?

If they say “don’t sing from the show,” then don’t! However, you DO want to find something as close as possible to the show in question.

For example, is the company doing an edgier show, like “Rent”? Then you may want to sing an audition song from a show like “Spring Awakening” or even “Hair”. If they’re doing an older classic like “Carousel”, consider something else by Rodgers and Hammerstein (like “South Pacific”), or something from the same era, like “My Fair Lady”.

2) What audition song suits YOU?

What is your type? Are you more of the leading man? The sweet ingenue? Maybe you’re a sassy belter, or a character actor.

The good news is that there is a huge variety of songs that are appropriate (and great fun!) for teen musical theater performers. This list cindlues songs for all types of voices and personalities, with several different styles and time periods for both genders. While many of these songs and tried-and-true classics, many are lesser-known and will delight your audition panel.

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Girls

1. “Frank Mills” — Hair

2. “I’m Not At All In Love” — The Pajama Game
3. “Think of Me” — Phantom of the Opera
4. “Beautiful Candy” — Carnival
5. “Mama Who Bore Me” — Spring Awakening
6. “Once Upon a Dream” — Jekyll and Hyde

7. “How Can I Wait?” — Paint Your Wagon
8. “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” — My Fair Lady
9. “Don’t Rain On My Parade” — Funny Girl
10. “Tryouts” — Bring It On: The Musical
11. “My Big French Boyfriend” — The Toxic Avenger
12. “Love Makes Such Fools of Us All” — Barnum
13. “A Wonderful Guy” — South Pacific
14. “Sing Happy” — Flora the Red Menace

15. “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” — Camelot
16. “Astonishing” — Little Women
17. “Live Out Loud” — A Little Princess
18. “So In Love” — Kiss Me Kate
19. “Heaven Help My Heart” — Chess
20. “Out of My Dreams” — Oklahoma!
21. “Still Hurting” — The Last Five Years
22. “The Finer Things” — Jane Eyre: The Musical

23. “Once Upon a Time” — Brooklyn: The Musical
24. “Once You Lose Your Heart” — Me and My Girl
25. “Waitin’ for My Dearie” — Brigadoon

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Boys

1. “Ten Minutes Ago” — Cinderella

2. “This is the Moment” — Jekyll and Hyde
3. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” — Les Misérables
4. “I Believe” — The Book of Mormon
5. “One Song Glory” — Rent
6. “Where Do I Go?” — Hair
7. “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” — Guys and Dolls
8. “I, Huckleberry, Me” — Big River
9. “Proud of Your Boy” — Aladdin

10. “Her Face” — Carnival
11. “It’s All Right With Me” — Can-Can
12. “Fallin’” — They’re Playing Our Song
13. “On the Street Where You Live” — My Fair Lady
14. “Sarah” — The Civil War
15. “I’m a Bad, Bad Man” — Annie Get Your Gun
16. “Real Live Girl” — Little Me

17. “Anthem” — Chess
18. “Love, I Hear” — A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
19. “Momma, Look Sharp” — 1776
20. “Love Changes Everything” — Aspects of Love
21. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” — Oklahoma!

22. “Me” — Beauty and the Beast
23. “Passeggiata” — The Light in the Piazza
24. “Make Them Hear You” — Ragtime
25. “Santa Fe” — Newsies”

Final Tips for Your Audition

I recommend being prepared with a few solid songs, as you never know if they’ll ask for more! Your repertoire book should have a variety of audition songs that include shows old and new, a song from a pop/rock musical, and at least one Disney song that suits you. And of course, make sure that you’ve had adequate time to practice and prepare before the audition!

If you’re confused about what to select and how to sing it, your best source is your voice teacher, who is bound to have lots of helpful ideas. Feeling nervous? Reserve your spot for TakeLessons’ live, online class about singing with confidence!

Have fun exploring the world of musical theater repertoire. And break a leg!

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Photo by TED Conference (with text overlay)

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Vocal Health- The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals (9)

Vocal Health: The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals

Vocal Health- The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals

Lots of rehearsals coming up? Feeling under the weather? In this article, singing teacher Elaina R. shares an important vocal health tip that can save your voice! 

 

The tenor in my professional vocal quintet is named Mark. It’s a perfectly good name, but for a singer it can be frustrating. Nearly every day someone announces that they are going to “mark,” and poor Mark gets confused. Sometimes even Mark has to mark.

What the heck am I talking about? Marking is an important skill that every singer, amateur or professional, must learn in order to stay healthy. Learning about this vocal health tip (and how to do it properly) can save you from a whole host of problems, including vocal fatigue and injury. And if your name is Mark, I apologize in advance for any confusion this may cause.

What Is Marking and When Should I Do It?

Marking is a type of modified singing meant to minimize strain on the voice. It limits volume and range while maintaining rhythm and pitch accuracy.

Most importantly, marking is a tool you can use to avoid getting vocally tired and hurting yourself during vocal rehearsals of any kind. This includes rehearsals for choir, musicals, operas, show choir, a cappella, even personal rehearsal time. Marking comes in handy when:

  • You have to sing the same taxing thing over and over. This can happen:
    • For the benefit of collaborators (e.g. piano accompanists, orchestra, other singers)
    • When learning new music, either with others or on your own. There’s no reason to sing a vocally difficult passage forte 10 times just to learn it.
  • You are feeling vocal fatigue (pain or discomfort in the throat, difficulty getting a clear vocal sound, general feeling of strain)
  • You are vocally compromised by allergies or illness (maybe you are getting over a cold and don’t want to overdo it)

A quick note on marking in rehearsal: be sure to let your conductor, director, and/or pianist know that you will be marking beforehand. Marking is completely acceptable to any conductor or accompanist (in fact, it shows how mature you are!), but if you don’t let people know, they might be confused as to why you sound different than usual.

How to Mark

There are two main ways that singers mark. However, before we get to how to mark, let me give a little disclaimer.

Marking can be just as tiring, if not MORE tiring, than singing in full voice if you don’t do it properly. You may think you’re taking it easy, but you still have to think about breath, resonance, and tension in the same ways you would if you were singing in full voice. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself while marking, which completely negates the purpose of this vocal health tip!

Got it? OK, good. Moving on to the two main types of marking.

  • Sing quieter. When marking, singers often eliminate dynamics in favor of a comfortable piano. This often involves switching vocal registration (head voice instead of high chest voice, for example). The result is a lighter, easier sound than full voice singing. Not sure what this means? Refresh your knowledge of vocal registers.
  • Eliminate range extremes. When marking, singers avoid high notes by transposing them down an octave. For example, if I was marking and I had an E6 in my music, I would sing an E5 or E4 instead.

Mark Away

The next time you are feeling vocally strained while trying to learn new music or while in a rehearsal, remember this vocal health tip. When done properly, marking helps protect your voice from fatigue and injury, ensuring that you’ll sound great when performance time comes around. Your musical collaborators, your voice teacher, and your vocal cords will all appreciate that!

Post Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ypsilanti, MI, as well as through online lessons. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

MO - 6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

MO - 6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

Improve your technique (and your next performance) by working on diction! In this article, singing teacher Liz T. shares some great exercises to try out…

 

Imagine you’re at a concert, and your favorite artist gets up on stage to sing. You recognize a popular song from her album starting, but when she opens her mouth… you can’t decipher any of the lyrics.

As a singer, paying attention to diction — that is, the way you enunciate your words — can make a big impact on your performance. It’s a crucial part of connecting with your audience and even having proper vocal health!

If you struggle with you diction when you sing, though, don’t be ashamed. It is truly something all singers struggle with! It doesn’t mean you are a bad singer… but the better diction you have, the more your audience will be able to enjoy and appreciate your performance.

There are tons of diction exercises you can try, which will help you train yourself. Start adding these to your practice sessions, and you’ll notice a difference!

1) Practice Tongue Twisters

Try speaking your favorite tongue twisters first, and then try singing them! I recommend focusing on ones with letters or syllables that are more difficult for you. Start slow, and then work up to a faster speed. Really make sure you are articulating each sound. You can also try speaking or singing the alphabet to get the shapes ingrained in your muscle memory.

Here are a few tongue twisters that are great for improving your diction:

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Red leather, yellow leather.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • Who washed Washington’s white woolen underwear, as Washington’s washer woman went West.
  • Mommy made me mash my M&Ms.

2) Study Phonetics (IPA)

For this exercise, take a look at the song you’re currently working on, and break down each word in the lyrics. Break apart the vowels, consonants, and diphthongs. Feel free to write in your score, if you need to spell a word differently for it to make sense in your singing.

Many singers refer to the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) when singing. This is a system derived from Latin that is used today as a standardized representation of sounds. It’s a great tool for singers to use and study!

3) Practice Vowels

Take some time focusing on each of the vowels: ah, ay, ee, oh, and oo. Add a consonant at the beginning (such as “mah, may, me…”) and sing through the list, making sure each one is clear.

4) Practice Consonants

Next, focus on consonants, like D, T, and N. Practice speaking the different sounds, repeating each a few times.

5) Do Some Lip Buzz/Trill

Warm up your lips, tongue, and teeth with simple lip buzzes and tongue trills.

6) Incorporate Breath Support

Pick one of the tongue twisters above, and practice saying it all in one breath.

Now that you’ve read the descriptions of the diction exercises, here’s a video you can follow along with:

Whether you are performing live on stage (using a microphone or not) or singing in a studio, you should always use clear and accurate diction! And if you’re struggling, remember that clear diction may not happen overnight. Keep practicing these diction exercises, and work with your voice teacher to improve your technique. Good luck!

 

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

physical activity to strengthen your voice

Will Cardio & Physical Activity Make You a Better Singer? [Video]

cardio to strengthen your singing voice

Can doing physical exercise and cardio help you become a better singer? The answer is yes! Learn how to strengthen your singing voice and which activities are best in this article by voice teacher Rebecca R

Imagine this scenario: you’ve signed up to run your first marathon. Maybe you ran cross-country back in high school and have kept up with running as a regular form of exercise. Because of this, you don’t use a training plan, and instead continue your normal exercise routine. When the day of the marathon arrives, though, you struggle to complete the entire course and end up injured. You’d probably feel like your body betrayed you, right?

While this scenario is a VERY exaggerated circumstance, it gets the point across: in order to accomplish a physical goal in the healthiest way possible, a certain amount of body awareness and training is required.

And although it doesn’t demand nearly the same endurance training as running a marathon, singing is a very physical activity. While just two tiny muscles are responsible for forming the sound of your singing voice (your vocal cords), the act of singing is a whole-body experience.

So, what’s the proper way to train? Adding physical activity to your musical practice to develop stamina and strengthen your singing voice is a great idea. Here’s how it can help you sing better:

1. Your body is your instrument.

In nearly every introductory voice lesson I teach, the student is always surprised by how physically demanding the lesson is. Often, he or she feels like they just went on a jog. That is exactly how any student should feel after a voice lesson!

When you sing to the best of your ability, you are using your entire body. Your feet ground you, your legs support you, and your torso expands and works to provide the breath support needed to fuel your singing. Even if you’re sitting in a chair, leaning against a piano, or laying on the ground, you are using more than just your throat and head to sing.

If learning how to strengthen your singing voice is a goal for you, the first step is to map out body awareness. Ask yourself the following questions the next time you sing:

  1. Which muscles are engaging when I breathe? When I’m singing a phrase of music?
  2. What do my feet feel like under me? Can they feel the ground?
  3. Where do I feel my torso expand when I inhale? In the front? On the sides? In the back?
  4. Am I holding any unnecessary tension in the body? Maybe in the shoulders or the jaw?

2. Breath, breath, and more breath!

Lung expansion is a saving grace for any singer. For most circumstances in everyday life, we inhale and exhale subconsciously without needing to actively engage our lungs. When we sing, however, we use up to 90% of our lung capacity depending on the range, style, and length of the song.

Unless you also happen to be an athlete, chances are you don’t perform many activities throughout the day that require a lot of conscious breathing. Enter cardio exercises: jogging, running, swimming, circuit training, you name it! All of these forms of exercise, in addition to their overall health benefits, will improve lung expansion, which helps you access more of your lung capacity and fuel your voice through any practice session, lesson, or performance. Good breath support gained through cardio exercise is what ultimately will provide the stamina to sing safely for hours, days, and years.

Editor’s Note: For more breathing exercises, join our next live, online class! View the schedule and reserve your spot here.

3. The Importance of Posture

While having good posture may seem obvious, I don’t think most singers realize that posture is something that needs to be worked on and strengthened regularly. Just like training the lungs with cardio, we need to strengthen our body to support good, natural posture while releasing tight muscles.

Yoga or pilates will accomplish both of these goals, along with added mental benefits! By strengthening your instrument (your body) and loosening up tight muscles, you will sing more freely and with more ease. As an added bonus,you’ll be able to warm up your voice much more quickly if your body is already warmed up!

Here’s a quick little trick for when you need help setting up your posture: Inhale fully and deeply without raising your shoulders or tightening your neck. Then, as you exhale, imagine your spine growing longer in both directions, up out of the top of your head and down toward the ground simultaneously.

How Much Physical Activity Do I Need to Sing at My Best?

While the minutes spent and intensity of all physical activity will vary from person to person, here’s a basic schedule you may want to follow:

  • 3 times/week: Cardio should be reserved for long vocal practice days. On cardio days, I’ve found that my lung capacity is at its best, and the energy I feel after cardio helps fuel long practice sessions. To get all the benefits of the cardio when you sing, try to fit it in before you practice.
  • 2 times/week: Yoga or pilates is reserved for my non-practice/non-performance days. Yoga classes that are lengthy and provide a hearty workout (such as Vinyasa or power yoga), as well as pilates classes, build strength and flexibility, which can leave the body sore and in need of some recovery. It’s best to avoid activity that might add temporary tension or tightness on singing days — or save the workout for after your singing.
  • Every day: Gentle yoga and stretching can be done anytime and is highly encouraged, particularly before you sing. I always reserve time for some gentle yoga on performance days, audition days, or long rehearsal days — the gentle stretch not only allows my mind and body to calm down and feel grounded but also makes warming up vocally easier and quicker.

Give it a Try…

Follow along with the video below for a quick stretching sequence you can start using today.

Singers, what kinds of physical activity do you engage in? Leave a comment below and let us know how it’s helped!

RebeccaRPost Author: Rebecca R.
Rebecca R. teaches singing, piano, and music theory in Ridgewood, NY, as well as online. She teaches students ages 6 and up, and a variety of experience levels. Learn more about Rebecca here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

Digital Sheet Music, iPad Apps, and More (2)

Digital Sheet Music & iPad Apps: Should You Make the Switch?

Digital Sheet Music, iPad Apps, and More (1)Feeling overwhelmed by pages and pages of sheet music? If you’re tech-savvy, you might want to consider switching to an all-digital library. Here, Elaina R. reviews the pros and cons of using digital sheet music, the best sheet music apps, and how to make the switch…

 

I recently purchased a tablet. I didn’t buy this tablet for scrolling through Instagram or catching up on TV shows, though. I purchased it to replace my bloated, disorganized music folder.

That’s right – I now almost exclusively use digital sheet music. At rehearsals these days I’m holding my tablet, not a binder. And I am so glad I made the switch!

If you already have a tablet (or are thinking about purchasing one), you could switch over to digital sheet music too. Digital sheet music for singers — that you download onto your iPad or other tablet device — alleviates many of the issues involved with using physical copies and can make for a happier, more organized musician (like me)! Here are the pros and cons of making the switch – and what you will need if you decide to do it.

Digital sheet music pros


Less Stuff, More Music

I finally snapped because of a paper mess that’s been brewing in my studio for years. I have reams of old photocopies, opera scores, song books, and oratorio scores lining my shelves. The books are nice, but if you only need to sing one piece it’s annoying to lug a whole book around. The binders of photocopies have become progressively more unwieldy in the last decade. They are now so big that I dread having to take them out.

On top of all that, as a full-time professional singer, I go through an insane amount of music. My everyday binder, which contained all of the music I was working on, exploded all over my bag at least once a day. My house was buried in stacks of photocopies and scores. The situation was bad for the environment, bad for my back, and bad for my sanity. Finally, after losing an important tax document in a gigantic pile of sheet music, I realized that something had to change.

Now, all of my music fits into my slim tablet. I have way more music with me than I could possibly carry around in hard-copy format, and it’s neatly organized and easily accessible.

You Can’t Lose Things

Back to the tax document. When you’re handling large volumes of sheet music, it takes a lot of patience and time to organize it. If you fall behind in your organization, you start to lose music — sometimes music that you desperately need! With a tablet, that possibility is mitigated (much to my relief).

It’s Environmentally Friendly

In the old days, I felt a twinge of guilt every time I had to print a new piece of music. Now I have all of the music I need without using a single sheet of paper. This is particularly helpful if you are part of a singing group, like I am. When I switched over to digital sheet music, four of my five co-workers did the same thing. We are killing far fewer trees these days!

digital sheet music cons


Technical Difficulties 

Change requires a learning curve, and switching to digital sheet music is no exception. Since I bought my tablet expressly as a music reader, I had to learn how to use it while I acquainted myself with the sheet music app I use. There’s still a lot I don’t know about it, and I had to look up instructions for a few of the trickier functions.

However, overall there were no major hurdles… except one. For some reason, trying to import documents from Google Drive to the app causes my tablet to crash. It’s bizarre, but luckily there are many other ways I can import music into the program.

Also, when using a tablet to read music, you need to keep that tablet charged. I got pretty freaked out when I realized that one of my co-workers had 17% battery during a performance the other day. If you are good about keeping your smartphone charged, I’m sure you won’t have a problem remembering to charge your tablet.

Writing On Music

One of the concerns I had about using digital vocal sheet music was maintaining the ability to write on the music. When I use old-fashioned paper, I spend rehearsals scribbling notes all over the pages. The process of writing on digital music is a little more complex. Writing freehand with a finger or stylus takes incredible dexterity (which I do not possess). However, highlighting is easy, and typing instructions onto the music looks cleaner than handwriting ever could.

Staying Uniform in Performance

I sometimes have to perform works that are not memorized. In these cases, singers are usually expected to use a uniform black folder. I usually just put my tablet into one of these folders, which, while annoying, is not insufferable. I’m still on the lookout for a tablet case that has a completely black, finished inside flap – I think that would look enough like a black folder to be acceptable. If you see one, let me know!

how to get sheet music on ipad


Do the pros outweigh the cons for you? Great! Here’s what you’ll need to make the jump to digital music.

Tablet

First and foremost, you’ll need a tablet. If you already have one lying around, you’re in luck. If not, don’t feel obligated to buy a $400 model; just make sure the screen is large enough for you to read music comfortably. I got my RCA Viking Pro, which has a 10.1-inch screen, on sale for $80.

Digital Music Library / Sheet Music App

Then, you’ll need a sheet music app to organize, edit, and view your music. You can create setlists, highlight, add notes, and much more.

FAQ: What are the best sheet music apps for iPads and Android tablets?

If you have an iPad, I recommend forScore ($9.99). Got an Android like me? Get MobileSheets Pro ($12.99).

Other options for sheet music readers apps are:

Smartphone Scanner

A smartphone scanner comes in handy when you have a hard copy that you need to import into your digital music library.

FAQ: How do I put sheet music on my iPad?

All you have to do is take pictures of your sheet music with your scanner app; the app adjusts the white balance to make it look like a photocopy. I use TinyScanner, which is free for both iOS and Android.

Where to Find Digital Sheet Music for Singers

If you need new music, you can avoid hard copies entirely by downloading digital versions. Here are the top three websites I use to get my digital copies, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.

  • IMSLP: This website has tons of public domain (classical) available for download, all for free.
  • SheetMusicPlus: SheetMusicPlus sells digital copies of music ranging from pop to classical.
  • MusicNotes: This site is similar to SheetMusicPlus, with lots of genres available for digital download.

You can also download digital copies directly from music publishers such as Hal Leonard, Alfred Music, and J.W. Pepper.

Conclusion


Even if your house isn’t full of crumpled sheet music, you may still benefit from switching to digital music. It’s cleaner, easier, lighter, and better for the environment. Plus, your voice teacher will love that you are so organized (and that you never forget to bring your music to lessons)! If you already have a tablet, I encourage you to download a digital music reader and give it a shot. We live in a digital world, and you may find that digital music is perfect for you.

Post Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ypsilanti, MI, as well as through online lessons. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource