The Three Biggest Mistakes Singers Make
As singers, there can come a point when we no longer work hard to improve our voices. It's common to become complacent and satisfied with our singing. We stop practicing good vocal technique. We start to feel too comfortable with our singing. When this occurs, mistakes start to happen. This is exactly why studying with a qualified teacher is so important.
Have you ever tried to change your posture? It isn't easy folks. When you walk with poor posture year after year, it feels so natural you don't even realize the bad effects it has on your body.
It's the same for singing. Bad habits become more and more ingrained. You don't even recognize it. You are even unable to hear it. But when you find that you are getting hoarse, or you can't hit those great high notes anymore - then you decide to see a vocal coach.
Your instructor has certain expectations from you as your voice is being assessed. Specific exercises and the best material to sing will be assigned to you to help correct vocal problems and keep you in line. Otherwise, singing mistakes are bound to occur when performing or recording.
- Trust the teacher and accept his suggestions for exercises and songs to practice.
- Have a strong desire and willingness to work hard.
- Lay the ego aside. Flush it away. Be patient with yourself. Change and development takes persistence and time.
Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing
Mistake # 1 - Controlling the Breath
Few vocalists really understand the importance of Breath Control. A complete knowledge of the entire Breath Control System and how it works is crucial for a dependable and consistent singing voice.
When I ask students why they must work on their breath control, the two reasons I get the most are "So I can hold a note longer" or "So I can sing the entire phrase without running out of breath."
While these are both good reasons for working on breath control, neither is the primary reason. The most important reason is that the singing tone is directly affected by the way you breathe.
It makes sense that the better control you have over your breath, the better the singing tone will be.
Your tone "rides" on air. Air acts as a cushion for the tone. Developing good breath control will allow your voice to sound full, rich and clear instead of weak and breathy.
If you are one of the many vocalists who inhale by lifting your shoulders and chest area, you absolutely must stop that bad habit right now. When you breathe this way ( inhalation ) you are not expanding the rib cage and your diaphragmatic muscle isn't be activated. This muscle is your "breathing muscle."
Your first order of business is to learn as much as you can about diaphragmatic breathing and begin to incorporate it now!
The video below, demonstrates exactly how to introduce the diaphragmatic muscle for breathing. After viewing the video, get comfortable on the floor, on your back, and practice the demonstration. The link above will teach you step-by-step instruction for implementing the "belly breath" needed for singing and good health.
How to Control the Breath
As you inhale, expand at the waistline.
Mistake # 2 - Trying to Sound Like Your Favorite Recording Artist
Be original when you sing. Instead of trying to sound like your favorite recording artist, develop your own unique sound and style. You aren't like any other person. There is only one you. It would be silly to try to duplicate the entire look of someone else. You are one-of-a-kind. You are unique and your singing should be just as unique.
Here are a few ideas for bringing out your uniqueness:
- Convey your own dramatic expression through your song interpretation and delivery.
- Use tonal shadings and dynamic contrasts. This is a key ingredient to styling your song.
- If you have a good falsetto use it. Using the falsetto voice is a very powerful affect for " grabbing" the attention of your audience. Just remember to use it sparingly. Listen to some recordings of the great Smokey Robinson.
- A beautiful vibrato is a huge part of developing your own style. However, an uncontrolled vibrato, ( too fast - irritating or too slow - more irritating ) must be avoided at all cost. A straight tone is better than an uncontrolled vibrato. A good vibrato is subtle, not thrown in your face.
As a singer, you have a responsibility to the composer. Interpret the lyrics and convey the meaning of the song to your listener and audience.
This can't be done unless you truthfully feel emotion. Be vulnerable because without it your singing will not be believable.
Lesson on Positioning the Vowels for Singing
Mistake # 3 - Pronunciation Problems - Diction
When singing a song, too many singers pronounce words the same way they speak. Singing requires different rules for pronouncing words. Sung vowels are different from spoken vowels.
The five basic vowel sounds are Ah, Eh, Ee, Oh, Oo. Correct mouth and tongue positionis absolutely mandatory for clear diction.
Consonants are still another problem for singers who have not been taught how to articulate them. Here are a few basic rules for clear articulation:
- Use the consonant as a springboard to launch you into the vowel sound. An example: See how quickly you can move from "m" to the vowel.
- To improve your delivery of consonants, it will help to exercise your tongue and lips. In many cases, the very tip of the tongue is the cause of problems. Do some trills for the tongue.
- If you tend to have lazy speech problems or patterns, they will be exposed when you sing.
- Do not drop the final consonant. Clearly enunciate final voiced consonants.
The most important factor in singing words is knowing how to position each vowel. The video shown below will introduce the singer to the correct mouth opening for primary vowels.
Even advanced singers make the mistake of singing with the wrong shape of vowels. Review the video several times. Monitor your mouth formation by looking in a mirror. Through practice (daily for several weeks), this will become automatic and each time you sing a word the mouth will naturally form the correct position for the vowels you sing.
Spoken Consonants Drill
Which of these 3 worst mistakes were the most helpful ?
Summing It All Up
The three worst mistakes singers make are:
- Breathing incorrectly. Learn how to activate and control the breathing system. Inhale by inflating the abdominal and ribcage area. Release air a little at a time during phonation to make it last throughout the phrase. Practice using the diaphragmatic muscle for correct breathing. Your singing will improve tremendously.
- Trying to sound like your favorite recording star. Develop your own unique, personal style. This is what singing is all about. Be you and not anyone else. It's okay to try to imitate another singer to learn vocal technique. However, once the technique is mastered, apply it to your own, remarkable singing sound.
- Pronunciation problems and diction. If the listener cannot understand the words you sing, they are being robbed of the entire singing and emotional experience. The parts of the body that form sound and words are the tongue, teeth, jaw and lips. Learn how to form and sing every vowel and consonant. Recording your practice sessions will help.
Singing can reawaken what has been tucked away deep inside of us. Connecting us to a deeper level, it brings to light, memories, dreams, hopes, conflict, confidence and an array of feelings.
When you sing, channel your energy into the song. Allow whatever you are feeling to penetrate the music. Don't be afraid to show your feelings. It's only when you sing your own truth, emotionally that the song comes alive.
You are the creator - you alone breathe life into every note and every word.
Sing with joy.
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Audrey Hunt