Improve your technique (and your next performance) by practicing diction exercises! 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, she starts singing, and you can’t decipher any of the lyrics. This is where accurate diction come in handy!
Having the correct enunciation, pronunciation, and inflection are key components when singing. This allows your audience to understand and connect with you. It even helps with your vocal health.
Today, we will share 6 voice and diction exercises to help you improve your singing skills!
How Can I Improve My Diction For Singing?
If you’re wondering how to improve your diction, you’re in luck! We’re going to tell you exactly how to do that with the following exercises.
- Practice tongue twisters
- Study phonetics (IPA)
- Practice vowels
- Practice consonants
- Do lip buzzes and tongue trills
- Incorporate breath support
6 Diction Exercises
When you sing deliberately, you can use your voice in different ways. You can provoke specific emotions and relay various messages. The first step to being able to do this is mastering diction.
This video demonstrates how to improve your diction. Continue reading to learn about how each exercise works and how you can do them effectively.
1) Practice Tongue Twisters
Singers know all about trying to belt out specific lyrics, then something unexpected comes out. You can practice preventing this by saying tongue twister. First, try speaking them, then try singing them.
I recommend focusing on ones with letters or syllables that are more difficult for you. Start slow, 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 washerwoman went West.
- Mommy made me mash my M&Ms.
Interested in printable tongue twisters? Check these out!
2) Study Phonetics (IPA)
When we talk about phonics, we’re referring to the individual sounds in words. Of course, this is important in singing to ensure your audience can understand your lyrics.
For this exercise, you can 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 helps you break apart words into syllables, then into individual sounds. This is an excellent tool for singers to use and study, especially for diction exercises.
3) Practice Vowels
When you repeat sounds, your voice will naturally become more effective. Take some time to focus 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. As you practice this, your enunciation will only get better.
4) Practice Consonants
Just like with vowels, you want to repeat consonant sounds when doing diction exercises. Again, this will improve your enunciation over time. Focus on consonants, like D, T, and N. Practice speaking the different sounds, repeating each a few times.
5) Do Lip Buzzes and Tongue Trills
When you’re singing, you’re using all parts of your mouth, including your lips and tongue. So, you need to warm those up, too! Warm up your lips, tongue, and teeth with simple lip buzzes and tongue trills. This will also get you ready to produce a wide range of sounds when singing. Not only is this good for practice, but it’s a quick and valuable exercise to do right before you perform.
6) Incorporate Breath Support
To be an incredible singer, you have to use a lot of air. This means you need your breathing to be on par. Support this by incorporating breath support into your diction exercises. You can do this by picking one of the tongue twisters above and practicing saying it all in one breath.
Key Takeaways for Diction Exercises
Your voice is a one-of-a-kind instrument. You can use it in so many different ways, and the more you learn, the more you can do with your voice. Whether you’re performing live on stage (using a microphone or not) or singing in a studio, you should always use precise and accurate diction. This allows you to produce music you’re proud of and that your audience can connect with.
Keep in mind that clear diction may not happen overnight, and it can take work. Keep practicing these diction exercises to improve your technique. And, if you want a professional to help you practice diction and master your singing skills, TakeLessons offers online and in-person lessons with a singing tutor who can customize lessons just for you!