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Everything You Need to Learn to Sing

Whether you have a musical background or not, singing is a fun and exciting skill to learn. Online singing classes will help you become more confident with your unique voice, and more comfortable showing it off in front of others.

There’s a lot that goes into improving your voice. Keep reading to find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from new singers. We’ll share the best way to practice singing, how to find your vocal range, and more!

Is singing hard for beginners?

Although singing isn’t the most difficult skill to learn, it’s definitely more complex than it seems. To some learners, singing comes naturally and they can create beautiful vocals with very little practice or effort.

To other singers, a lot more practice goes into achieving that pitch-perfect sound. A good singer must master breath control, posture, diction, stage presence, and more important techniques. Don’t be discouraged though - with the right guidance anyone can learn to sing!

How long does it take to learn to sing?

There isn’t one definitive amount of time that it will take you to learn to sing. Each student will learn how to sing at his or her own pace based on their diligence and natural ability. What do we mean by “natural ability”?

Students who already have a wide vocal range and the ability to match pitch will progress faster than those who weren’t born with these talents. Either way, each of these talents can be developed with the right amount of practice.

Learn more about how long it takes to learn to sing here.

Am I too old to learn to sing?

Singing isn’t a skill limited by age, but rather by your level of determination and hard work. Both young and older students have their own advantages.For example, a younger student will have more time to develop his or her voice, while an older student will more easily pick up on difficult skills like sight reading. Students of all ages are encouraged to join our online singing classes!

Can anyone learn to sing?

It may come as a surprise, but the answer is: yes. Anyone can improve their voice with online singing classes. Many people falsely label themselves as “tone deaf,” when in fact this lifelong condition only affects about four percent of the population.

Some studies have even shown vocal improvements among the tone deaf after working with a singing teacher! These studies prove that even if you think you have a terrible voice, you can in fact learn how to sing.

Is it possible to teach yourself to sing?

Many people wonder how to learn singing online, by themselves. There are a few main reasons you may be interested in teaching yourself how to sing. Maybe lessons are too expensive, or you’re not entirely sure yet if singing is your passion. Maybe you’re embarrassed about your singing level or want to kickstart your learning before taking lessons. But is it actually possible to teach yourself to sing? The answer is yes, and no.

It is possible to learn the basics of singing on your own, but if you really want to advance in your skills and ensure you’re using proper singing technique, you’ll definitely need the help of an experienced teacher.

A singing teacher will be able to notice and correct bad habits that lead to injuries and negatively affect your sound. Additionally, the motivation and inspiration you can get from this type of guidance makes a huge difference in your learning process.

The good news is, TakeLessons Live offers online singing classes that you can take from the comfort of your home. Want to brush up on some basic skills before taking your first group singing class? You’ll need to know about three techniques: pitch, power, and range.

All About Vocal Pitch, Power & Range

Vocal pitch is one of the most important areas of singing. When you work with a vocal coach, your pitch may be one of the first techniques they talk about. An effective warm-up routine will help you develop this technique. Pitch matching – or reproducing tones you hear with your voice – is probably the simplest exercise you can work on.

This involves not just working with your voice, but your ear as well. All you need for simple pitch-matching exercises is a tuner, a pitch to match, and your voice.

It’s best to use a piano and play a note, such as a C, while singing it back. Use a tuner to show you if you are truly matching pitch.

Vocal power

The next step is to work on your vocal power. Vocal power requires proper breathing and diaphragm control. Add some breathing exercises to your daily warm-up, and pay attention to correct positioning of your jaw, mouth, and body to help with this.

A lot of breathing exercises incorporate singing different sounds on pitches and working up and down the scale. Making sure you breathe from your belly and support your voice throughout the entire exercise is the key to power.

Sequences such as “Mi Me Ma Mo Mu” up and down the scale will give you practice in opening your mouth, relaxing your throat, and supporting your sound. You don’t want these notes to sound nasal, but rather supported and steady.

Vocal range

Vocal range goes hand-in-hand with vocal power. Once you get your breath support under control, you can begin exploring your range. The ability to relax your throat and support your voice will give you the power needed for the wider range in notes.

There are several great range exercises to try as you’re working on scales. These exercises should be part of your warm-up before working on an actual vocal piece. You can find many different warm-up exercises to try in between your vocal classes in our singing playlist on YouTube.

What Are the Best Ways to Learn to Sing?

How much are singing lessons?

The cost of singing lessons depends on your method of learning. For private lessons, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $75 per half hour. The rate is typically based on your location and a teacher’s level of expertise.

Another option is to try to find free singing lessons or group classes near you. TakeLessons Live allows you to learn to sing online, for free, with a basic subscription to our interactive group classes.

What’s the best way to learn to sing?

The best way to learn how to sing for beginners is to regularly take classes or lessons from an experienced teacher. A voice instructor can give you the personal instruction and attention that you need to advance your skills. Another important necessity is to be dedicated to daily practice. With both of these in your routine, your voice will grow stronger, faster, regardless of whether you learn to sing online or in-person with a teacher.

What’s the best way to practice singing?

The voice, just like other instruments, requires regular practice to master. Practicing the right things every day, and not overdoing it, will improve your vocal ability. Let’s start out by explaining what we mean by “not overdoing it.”

With singing, how you practice matters just as much as what you practice. Our best advice is to practice singing healthfully. Singing healthfully, or singing without unnecessary tension or effort, will increase your stamina.

Singing well involves the breath, the resonators of the upper face, and the muscles that you use to speak (in the lips, tongue, and jaw). Try looking at yourself in the mirror while practicing to make sure you aren’t doing any extra, unnecessary work.

Are your shoulders raised? Does your neck look tense? Relaxing while you practice not only feels good, but it will help improve your ability to perform for longer periods of time.

Once you have healthful singing down, you can structure your practice sessions something like this. Start with a 20-minute warm up session to work on your breath support, low and high range, chest voice and head voice, arpeggios, diction, or vibrato.

For the next 20 minutes, study a song to learn the melody and rhythm. While memorizing the lyrics, work on your diction, pronunciation, and vocal tone. And finally, for the last 20 minutes you can practice vocal techniques including ear training, harmony, and sight reading.

Online singing classes are another effective way to practice singing. Check out our wide selection of classes on topics like proper breathing techniques and singing on pitch!

Learn more about singing practice here.

How often should beginners practice singing?

Your voice is a delicate instrument. While a pianist can practice for hours upon hours every day, singers cannot. Why? Unlike other instruments, the entire vocal apparatus is a sensitive part of your body.

For men, the vocal cords themselves are about the length of a quarter, and for women, they’re the length of a dime. Vocal cords are even smaller in children and adolescents.

Because our vocal cords are so small, singers have some physical limitations, so we recommend practicing every day for shorter amounts of time.

Think of practicing singing as you would exercise. Exercising every day improves your coordination and muscular ability. Using your voice every day improves the coordination and muscular abilities involved with breathing, lifting the soft palate, and relaxing the rest of the body.

Remember to practice even on your busiest days. As with physical exercise, even a 10-minute workout each day is better than nothing. If you have a commute, try practicing in the car. If you don’t have much time alone, ask your voice teacher for a few quiet exercises that you can do.

Keep in mind though not to practice for long periods of time. Aim for anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes each day, and stop practicing as soon as you start to feel vocally fatigued, or ideally right before.

As you improve, your stamina will increase, but it can also change daily due to factors like allergies and a lack of sleep. Always pay attention to your body and listen to what it has to say!

What is My Singing Voice Type?

Before you rush to figure out what type of singing voice you have, there are two things to keep in mind. Firstly, if you’re a male under 22, or a female under 20, then your vocal range is still developing and you won’t know your true voice type until you’re a little bit older.

In addition, if you haven’t taken singing lessons previously, then you might not know your full range. Your vocal range can change drastically as you learn how to sing, so don’t jump to conclusions until you’ve had some training.

Now let’s move on to what the different types of voices are. There are five general categories of voice types. Three are for men and two are for women. We’ll list each voice type here along with a short description of each.

  • Soprano: This is the highest voice type with a range of B3-G6. If your voice is similar to Mariah Carey or Ellie Goulding’s, you’re probably a soprano.
  • Mezzo Soprano: A mezzo soprano, also referred to as an “alto” in the choir world, is a woman with a lower voice. The mezzo soprano range is G3-A5. Some examples of famous mezzo soprano singers are Adele and Ella Fitzgerald.
  • Tenor: Tenors are men that can easily and naturally hit the high notes. Their range is C3-B4. Think Adam Levine or Justin Timberlake.
  • Baritone: A baritone is halfway between a tenor and a bass (the next lowest voice type). A baritone’s range is G2-G4. If your voice resembles Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash, you could be a baritone.
  • Bass: Bass is the lowest male voice type with a range of D2-E4. There are very few basses in mainstream music, but Louis Armstrong is one of the most well known.

What is vocal range?

Each voice type (soprano, tenor, bass, etc.) has a different vocal range associated with it. Simply stated, your vocal range is the span from the lowest note to the highest note your voice can produce.

Some singers have larger ranges (such as Michael Jackson), and some have smaller ranges (such as Taylor Swift). You can find your vocal range by following the simple steps outlined below. Note: you may need the help of a singing teacher to get more accurate results.

  • Start with some vocal warm ups to prep your voice for this exercise.
  • Find a piano, keyboard, or a piano app so you can sing along while playing some notes.
  • Play “middle C” and make your way down the keys, trying to match each note with your voice as you go. Sing a vowel sound like “ah” or “oo” for each note.
  • Find the lowest note that you can comfortably sing without your voice cracking and write it down, (for example, B3).
  • Do the same exercise but make your way up the keys in the opposite direction.
  • Stop when you’ve hit the highest note you can sing without straining your voice and write it down, (for example, G6).
  • It’s OK to include notes that might not necessarily sound the best. As long as you can reach them comfortably, your sound will improve with more practice.
  • Put a hyphen in between the upper and lower notes you were able to sing (for example, B3-G6) and you have your vocal range!

Keep in mind that if you’ve never taken vocal classes, you will have a much more limited range than a trained singer, especially when it comes to the upper range. So be careful not to wrongly label your voice as “low” until you’ve had some proper training.

What are some easy songs to sing?

Once you know your voice type and range, it’s easier to pick songs that you’ll be able to sing well.

Check out the following lists for some ideas.

3 Timeless Songs to Sing to Improve Your Technique

What Are the Best Songs to Sing to Show Off Your Vocal Range?

What Are the Best Songs to Sing for an Audition?

Does TakeLessons offer a singing app?

There are many helpful singing apps that you can use to get some extra training and practice.

The TakeLessons app is available on iTunes and Android for you to instantly connect with singing teachers for free voice lessons. You can also sign up for private, individual singing lessons on the app if you’d like.

How Can I Improve My Voice?

If you’re committed to improving your voice and learning how to sing well, you probably already know that there’s a lot more to it than just taking a deep breath and recalling the lyrics to your favorite songs.

In fact, if you’ve taken beginner voice lessons before, you may have been surprised by how slowly your voice teacher went at first. You may have examined your posture, done some warm-ups and breathing exercises, all before you started singing an actual song.

There’s a lot to remember as you’re learning to sing, but once you’ve mastered a few simple techniques, you’ll notice your voice getting stronger and better each day. Let’s review 10 things you need to know to become the best singer you can be!

1. Vocal health for singers

As a singer, your voice is your instrument. Just as a piano player regularly tunes his piano and a guitarist changes her strings, caring for your instrument is incredibly important! Without an understanding of the basics, you may be setting yourself up for strain, fatigue, and irreversible damage.

Start with a few simple things: pay attention to your nutrition and health in general, including eating well, staying hydrated, not smoking, and getting enough sleep. From there, watch how your health influences your singing.

A proper warm-up is incredibly important before using your voice, as is staying hydrated at all times, which keeps your vocal cords from getting irritated. You also might notice specific foods that affect your voice. Some singers find that they don’t perform well after eating or drinking dairy, for example.

Or, you might feel lethargic after eating fast food — keep that in mind if you have a performance coming up!

2. Breathing for singers

In addition to staying healthy, singers need to know how to breathe properly in order to improve. One common tendency among new singers is to fill up with air vertically instead of horizontally.

Take a deep breath and sing a phrase of a song. Did your shoulders move? If so, you are pushing a good amount of that valuable air into your shoulders, where it has absolutely no use to you.

Locate your diaphragm below your chest and above your belly – buried behind muscle, but detectable when you notice your chest expanding as you inhale. The goal is to direct all of your inhaled air into your balloon-like diaphragm – not your shoulders.

Incorporate the following exercises into your singing practice to improve your breathing.

Breathing exercise 1:

  • Pacing yourself, inhale for a count of four so that your diaphragm is fully extended, then exhale for a count of four so that your diaphragm returns to rest.
  • Repeat the exercise for a count of eight, and then for a count of 16.
  • With this exercise, you’re expanding your breathing capacity while training your muscles to ration out the available air – an important tool for singing phrases of varying lengths.

Breathing exercise 2:

  • Inhale, feeling the movement of your upper abdomen and lower ribs, and then exhale while saying, “Ahhh.” (This sound should have a duration of two to three seconds.)
  • Toward the end of the exhale, switch to just breath (no “Ah” sound) and feel the air whoosh out of your body.
  • Feel how the body supports the breath and the action of the diaphragm whether or not there is sound being made at the laryngeal level. This entire exercise happens in one continuous stream of breath.

Breathing exercise 3:

  • Inhale slowly and suspend your breath for a second or two, then let the air out with a steady “hiss” sound. Listen to the hiss and make sure there are no bursts of air making the hiss louder or faster. Keep your exhalation steady.
  • You can also practice a steady airflow during exhalation while singing a high note (choose a comfortable note in your head register). The tone should feel light and steady.
  • If you feel any variations in volume or tone quality, you are letting inconsistent amounts of air out. In this exercise, focus on quality, not quantity.

3. Singing posture

Now that you’ve got correct breathing down, let’s tackle the next important element of great singing. Remember what we said earlier about your body being your instrument? It’s true — and it’s your entire body, from your head to your toes!

This is why singing posture is important, because when you slouch, breathing is a lot harder. Correct posture will free up the space in your chest for your lungs to expand effortlessly.

Practice standing in front of a mirror and check your posture. Here’s what each of your body parts should be doing.

  • The A-O joint: Your very top vertebra, AKA the “atlas,” forms a joint with the bottom of your skull to support your head. Balance your head on this joint (the A-O joint) so that you are neither looking up or down. A properly balanced A-O joint reduces neck and jaw tension.
  • Neck: Your neck is a part of your spine. Streamline it with the rest of your spine rather than craning it forward. If you balance your head on your A-O joint, your neck should move into this position.
  • Shoulders: Your shoulders are not connected to your ribcage, so they shouldn’t move while you sing. Make sure your shoulders are in a relaxed, neutral position when singing.
  • Arms: When you aren’t gesturing, you should be relaxing your arms at your sides. Don’t make fists, clasp your hands, or fidget with your clothes. This adds tension and makes you look (and feel) nervous.
  • Torso: Your torso contains your lungs, along with the many muscles that help them work. For optimal breathing, balance your torso on top of your hips and allow it to feel large and open. Don’t try to flatten your spine; it is naturally curved and flattening it will hinder your breathing.
  • Hips: Position your pelvis directly under your torso so it can provide maximum support. It should not be pushed forward or backward while you sing.
  • Legs: Soften your knees so that they are neither bent or locked up. Position your legs directly under your body, feeling their support beneath you.
  • Feet: Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Balance your weight across your feet evenly so that you aren’t leaning forward or backward.

4. Improving your tone

You’ve probably heard the word “tone” a lot as a singer, but what exactly does it mean? Is tone something you need to improve or develop? Not exactly. Your tone can’t be changed; it’s your unique “vocal thumbprint” and is primarily determined by the shape of your head, throat, and sinuses.

A good tone is one that’s supported by good vocal technique. As you’ve learned in the previous sections, that means starting with proper breath control and good singing posture.

Beyond that, improving your singing tone is best done with the help of a professional. Since there are many reasons your tone could be suffering, working with a voice teacher can help you identify what you need to work on — whether that’s insufficient breathing, a limited range, or understanding how to first attack a note or phrase.

5. Singing on pitch

Pitch is defined as the quality that allows us to classify a sound as relatively high or low, and is determined by the frequency of sound wave vibrations. Knowing how to sing on pitch is what sets apart great singers.

Some musicians are born with a natural “ear” for hearing and matching pitches; others may need a bit of practice, and that’s totally OK! Many singers — even professionals — have a tendency to slide sharp or flat, and it’s something they have to continually practice and correct.

So, how do you strengthen your pitch-matching abilities? One method is simple aural drills. Start by playing a note on a piano to find your pitch. Sing along, and then subtly slide your pitch one way, and then back to the note. You’ll start training your ear to hear the varying pitches.

6. Basic music theory

The best part about singing is that anyone can get started without any prior knowledge of music theory, structure, or history. But if you really want to set yourself apart from the crowd, learning music theory will help you become a more knowledgeable, well-rounded musician.

It’s one thing not to know any music theory and sing easy, beginner songs, but you’ll be at a whole new level if you can improv riffs in a jazz song or harmonize with another singer. This all takes a knowledge of music theory!

Many vocal auditions, competitions, and scholarship opportunities are based, at least partly, on a music theory exam or assessment. So learning music theory also opens up opportunities for you as a music student and a competitor.

7. Diction for singers

Diction is how well you pronounce words while singing. It’s also known as “articulation.” In most contemporary music — especially pop, country, and rap — the lyrics are an integral part of the song. So as a singer, it’s your job to share those lyrics with your audience.

If you’re quiet, muffled, or sloppy, the message and story of the song can get lost. Moreover, some singers don’t even recognize when they have poor diction. This is where recording yourself while singing, or getting feedback from a voice teacher, can make a huge difference.

From there, your teacher can work with you on practicing vowels and making consonants crisp and clear.

8. Finding your vocal range

We all know those few amazing singers who are famous for their wide vocal ranges – Mariah Carey for her five octaves, Ariana Grande for her full voice and head voice notes, and Toni Braxton for those low sultry notes.

Everyone would love to be able to sing one of these famous singer’s songs and hit every note, but most cannot. Instead, it’s important to understand your own personal range, and keep it in consideration as you’re warming up and selecting repertoire.

9. Staying motivated

You’ve learned all the basics, and you’ve been listening to all the greats for inspiration, but remember: you simply cannot expect to improve without regular practice! Practice singing everyday, if possible.

This doesn’t mean that you have to practice for long periods of time. Make shorter practice sessions strategic yet fun! Create your own silly warm-ups — try singing with “nonsense” words, or make a simple song your warm-up.

You can also spend part of your session practicing performing. By pretending you’ve got an audience, you’ll be ready for when you actually do have one. More on this in the next section!

10. Being a confident singer

Last but not least, one of the most important qualities a singer can have is not necessarily a beautiful voice, but confidence! If you are firmly planted on the stage with a relaxed presence, you’re inviting your audience in and opening up your voice.

If you struggle with stage fright (like many singers and performers do), don’t be hard on yourself. The more you perform, the easier it will get and the more your confidence as a singer will grow.