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From Speaking to Singing in 5 Minutes: How to Initiate Your Sound

Updated on April 24, 2017
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Respected vocal coach and professional singer, Audrey Hunt lays it on the line when it comes to the responsibility of singing.

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Singing Requires More Air Than Speaking

Learning to breath from the diaphragm also known as the 'belly breath.' This supports the singer's sound and keeps the tone steady.
Learning to breath from the diaphragm also known as the 'belly breath.' This supports the singer's sound and keeps the tone steady. | Source

Your Voice Is Like a Gold Nugget

Is it even possible to go from a speaking sound to a full-on singing voice? Yes, it certainly is. You may not sound like Luciano Pavarotti or Beyoncé at first, however, you can release your singing voice and once this is done you can take it to the next level developing a rich, pleasing sound.

Finding your own voice is like discovering gold:

  • At first you hear a sound emanating within you.
  • Just like searching for a gold nugget, you see a small sparkle shining through the earth, (hear a strange sound), and you're not sure yet that this is real gold (your real voice.)
  • So you carefully remove the debris from the nugget, (remove the doubt and fear of singing).
  • Next you clean and polish the stone, (exercise and develop your voice).
  • Then you know you've discovered gold, (your own unique singing tone).

Why would you hesitate to believe, even for a second, that your singing voice is an extension of your speaking voice supported by air? Maybe this notion just sounds to easy. Or perhaps you think that only a privileged few are 'born to sing' - you either have it or you don't. Hogwash!

While it's true many people come into this world with a beautiful and amazing voice (I'm not discounting this fact), it doesn't mean that the rest of us have to spend our lives just wishing we could sing. Singing is available to everyone. It's also a learned skill. This means the more you learn and apply singing techniques the better you will sound.

Singing should never be a struggle - it should feel easy and natural. Bring a little desire, dedication and discipline to this lesson and I guarantee results.

Just to make it clear here, this lesson is for beginners (or the curious) to teach beginners how to initialize their singing voice. For those of you who have never sung before, this will be an easy way to get started. For the rest of you, if you're not too happy with how you sound when you do sing, follow along just for the heck of it. Who knows? Maybe this tutorial will show you a whole new way of releasing your tone. You might even learn that most of your vocal problems are based on lack of proper breathing.

And now grab a glass of room-temperature water and let's get started on releasing your singing voice.

Keep your voice well hydrated during all vocal exercises.
Keep your voice well hydrated during all vocal exercises. | Source

Releasing Your Singing Voice in a Flash

The following exercise can be done in either a standing or sitting position. Use good posture to keep your spine straight because your breathing muscle and ribcage are connected to the spine. Feel for an openess in the chest area keeping it high and quiet.

The sound you are about to make is much like chanting. It may even remind you of the ohm sound used in meditation. So if you like you can add an "m" to the word "huh" (hum) or even use ohm.

1. Using the word huh or ohm (I will be referring to the huh) speak it 6 times. (huh,huh, huh, huh, huh, huh). Try to make each huh sound the same matching the previous sound as you repeat.

2. Repeat this exercise but this time hold the word huh by sustaining the "uh" . (huuuuuuh). You'll find that more air will be needed to do this. So 'tank-up" by inhaling more air. Refrain from lifting your chest. Inflate around the waistline as you draw in your air. Let your air out sparingly.

3. Repeat once more holding the "uh" sound a bit longer. Be aware of any vibrations you may feel. If necessary keep repeating until you do feel vibrations . They are mostly noticed in the area of the nose or roof of the mouth (the hard palate). If you're using the word ohm vibrations will be felt in the lip area as well.

4. When you've completed this exercise hydrate your throat with plenty of room-temperature water. (Cold water restricts the vocal chords.)

Holding the sound of huh or any word or phrase is referred to as pitch. Pitch is the highness and lowness of sound. Depending on where you're speaking or singing from, the pitch you hear may be low or high. Imagine you are climbing a ladder with your voice.

The first step would be low, the second step is higher and the remaining steps continue to get higher as you climb up the ladder. This is how pitch works. It works the same way stepping down the ladder. Each step down becomes lower and lower.

Your sound resonates from three main areas: throat, mouth cavity, and nasal passages. These areas vibrate to produce your tone. Beginning singers usually ignore these vibrations but I'd like you to bring an awareness to these resonating areas.

One way to feel the nasal passage vibrations is to sing on a comfortable tone the word "sing". Sustain the "ng" and as you do this you will feel the vibrations in this area. Try it now.

You're doing great so let's move on.

Let's Do it Again Concentrating on the Breath

Now, let's do this exercise once more holding the sound of huh for 5 - 10 seconds Notice that when you sustain (hold) the sound of huh you will need more air. The longer you hold the sound the more air you need. This is why you hear so much about the importance of breath control for singing. A pleasant, controlled voice is a voice that actually controlls the amount of air needed for every phrase of music.

1. Check your posture again. As I said earlier, your singing muscles are attached to the spine which is why your posture is so important. At the same time, be sure to release any tension you may be holding in your neck and shoulders. Releasing tension will give you a better singing sound.

When you go from speaking to singing your singing sound rides on the breath. So you need plenty of air to sustain the sound. This air is executed upon inhalation. When you take a breath in, you are inhaling air (inhalation).

This air doesn't come from your chest, it comes from your belly known as the diaphragm. The belly breath provides you with plenty of needed air for holding on to the sound you produce. The more air, the better the sound. The more you know about breath control and how to use it during singing the better your sound will be.

2. Repeat the same exercise only this time direct your breathing to inhaling followed by exhaling (releasing the air). Release the air slowly to help sustain the sound longer.

3. Now it's time to sing the first three words of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". Notice that the sound of "Row, Row, Row" are all on the same pitch...they all sound the same.

4. Be aware of your breathing. Inhale plenty of air before singing and let your air out slowly as you repeat each "Row".

5. How did it feel? Did you have enough air to sing through all three "row's"? Don't worry about your sound. We'll get to that later. For now concentrate on your breathing.

Points to remember:

  • When you go from speaking to singing your singing sound rides on the breath. So you need plenty of air to sustain the sound. This air is executed upon inhalation. When you take a breath in, you are inhaling air (inhalation).
  • This air doesn't come from your chest, it comes from your belly known as the diaphragm. The belly breath provides you with plenty of needed air for holding on to the sound you produce. The more air, the better the sound. The more you know about breath control and how to use it during singing the better your sound will be.

Learn how to access the belly breath (diaphragmatic breathing) here.

Don't Tell Me You Don't Want to Sing

I've spent the better part of my life teaching thousands to sing with flying colors. What I've learned from this is that anyone can sing as long as they have a desire to sing. And anyone who says they don't want to sing isn't being entirely truthful. It's like saying "I'm a flower but I want to remain a seed and never blossom or grow. Leave me here underground where I can hide. Don't water me, feed me or allow the sun's rays to bring me warmth. I'm safe here below the surface where I can't make a mistake or risk someone laughing at me."

Jet-Singing Exercise

Next Step:

Now it's time to vary the pitch. As you go through these exercise it's important never to continue the sound until you run out of breath. The breath serves the thought and each thought (or phrase) has an intrinsic length.

Each new thought has a new breath. Short thoughts have short breaths, medium thought have medium breaths and long thoughts and long breaths. If you want to develop your voice as a musical intrument (and this is what it is) you must work on diaphragmatic breathing until it becomes natural and you can manipulate it at will.

1. Sing the sound of huh again. It doesn't matter how it sounds at this point or whether you're sound is high or low. It is easier for beginning singers to place the sound more in the middle, not to high or to low. It should feel somewhat easy and comfortable.

2. Now sustain the huh sound as you previously did. Don't judge or criticize your new singing sound. Regardless of what you think about your voice it will get better...and better with practice.

3. This time you will actually take-off, like a jet, using your voice. Keep your voice fairly soft throughout this exercise. This will keep your voice from cracking as you sing through the break.

4. Start on a low, deep tone (sound) and using the word E as in 'We' imagine you are a jet preparing for lift-off. You're about to manuever your voice from the run-way, climbing slowly into the sky.

5. The run-way is where you prepare your singing engine for take-off. Think of breathing (inhalation) as your engine for sound. Get ready to take a big breath for take off by engaging your belly and filling it full of air.

6. Using the word E allow your sound to ride on air as you release your air a little bit at a time. As you climb higher and higher your pitch is climbing higher.

7. Now is the time to let your imagination come into play. Become a child again. Pull out all the stops as your singing voice duplicates the siren of a fire engine. Start down low and allow your free voice to climb all the way upward to a high sound (pitch). Once you reach the top of your vocal range, slide slowly back down to where it started down low.

The Seeds of Singing Are Like a Rose

Allow your singing seeds to blossom and grow. A thorn here and there are a natural state of progression.
Allow your singing seeds to blossom and grow. A thorn here and there are a natural state of progression. | Source

You Have Everything You Need to Become a Singer

Inside your being you have all the seeds planted right where they belong for singing. Let's look at the very seeds that are identified with singing - the vocal chords. Do you have a set of vocal chords? Sure you do or you wouldn't be able to speak? Do you have the seed of breathe? Of course you do otherwise you wouldn't be alive.

What about a resonating system? Once the seeds of tone are produced by the vibrating vocal cords, the vibrations go in and through the open resonating chambers: chest, mouth, nasal (or "mask"), and head. Once these seeds are exposed by correct and nurturing methods, the blossoms of singing come forth.

So there you are - you have it all right inside you.

The Siren Vocal Exercise

This siren exercise is much like the jet-singing you just practiced. It sounds much like a police siren. It's a great warm-up and helps singers with the following:

. Extends the vocal range, giving you a broader sound and more freedom to sing high notes. Because the singer is learning to take a deep enough breath to complete this exercise, the additional use of breath frees the tone to sweep higher than ever. This means the voice can hit higher notes with freedom and ease,

. Smooths out the vocal "break". If you've ever heard your own voice crack in the middle of a song you've experienced the natural break in the voice as it moves from one register to the next. The siren exercise provides just the right amount of ease and air to smooth out the break.

To begin the siren exercise:

1. Completely relax your entire body.

2. Beginning on a low note mimic the sound of a siren using the vowel "ee" or "oo".

3. Bring the note up (sliding every note) as high as you can singing through 'the break' and continuing into falsetto.

4. Stay up there in your highest sound for a second or two then slowly come back down to your starting note.

Warning:

Use plenty of air for this exercise to prevent damage to the vocal chords and use a soft but supported sound. If the higher notes do not feel easy and comfortable refrain from going too high. As you build breath support the higher notes will come easily.

Wrapping it All Up

So, how did you do? Have you learned how to release your singing sound? Keep at it, day after day, and you'll continue to sound better. Keep experimenting with different vowels followed by words in a song and a variety of pitch.

Remember: Air is moved out of the lungs and towards the vocal folds (chords) by a coordinated action of the diaphragm (belly breath), abdominal muscles, chest muscles, and rib cage. Obviously posture is important. Keep the chest high and quiet. Correct inhalation involves stomach muscles, ribcage and even back muscles.

What you have learned in this lesson is how to free the natural voice. These lessons must be practiced daily, week after week and even month after month until voicing your sound becomes automatic.

You are a human instrument and as such need to develop and strengthen your voice. Liberate your natural sound first before applying vocal technique.

We live in a world of tension and reactions. This tension is carried in our shoulders, neck and back. Tension is the enemy and diminishes the efficiency of the natural voice. We must first remove the blocks that inhibit the beauty of the natural voice.

We each have a kaleidoscope of possibilities when it comes to our singing voice. Physical awareness and relaxation are the first steps in releasing your natural sound. As you practice the exercises outlined in this tutorial begin to assess your progress by asking yourself "how does it feel"? instead of "how does it sound"?

We want to hear you, not your voice.

Sing with joy!

Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that.

Woody Allen

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© 2017 Audrey Hunt

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    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      WillStarr

      Where were you 10 years ago when I was younger and had the energy to start my dream - Anyone Can Sing Vocal Studios? You're the best. Supportive, kind and even willing to try my vocal exercises!

      And as for your doggies...no doubt they will join you in full voice. :)

      Hugs, my friend.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I grew up in a family that used to sing together whether in the kitchen doing dishes, in the car or elsewhere. It is a joy! You are doing a great service for people who think that singing is beyond their capability. The breathing exercises are very useful!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 weeks ago from California

      Love love sirens! And working with straws--funny, when you first start singing, it is all about getting the breath to move--as you become more accomplished, it is all about keeping the flow steady, and as you become more accomplished yet, it is all about taking more and more breath out of the tone and keeping it steady-- Really well done here Audrey!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Audrey. I took several steps in your tutorial, and was so pleased with the results, especially with "how to free the natural voice." This is a treasure, Audrey, as are you. :-) Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

      My cat didn't appreciate my "huuuuhing" but I enjoyed the exercises and explanations you provided. Also, that photo of roses is gorgeous.

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 4 weeks ago from Rochester, New York

      When I was much younger I wanted to sing. I used to go to meeting groups where 2 or 3 songs were sung and I would be sitting next to different people each song. I noticed how differently people sang. I came to the conclusion that I would just whistle but I never learned how to do that either. Notes would be too shrill or too long. I gave up on singing until I discovered the recorder and now the ocarina. I know the sounds I make with my instrument are the ones I am supposed to make. I am bound and determined to have music in my life both played and sung but it isn't easy for someone as old as I am. I will keep trying. Thank you MsDora for making this process seem easy, the mark of a good teacher. (Oh yeah, I finally found a music teacher that is willing to teach an old timer like me. She is helping me make some progress. Slow and steady wins the race I've heard.) Bob.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 weeks ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      OK, so I'm going to cut this one and paste it into my word program, wait until I'm alone (the dogs will just leave if necessary) and give this a shot.

      BTW, if you ever do decide to open a chain of 'Anyone Can Sing!' studios, I want in on the ground floor because once people learn that even they can learn to carry a tune, it will be a bonanza.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Very helpful, Audrey. Going to get my water. I'm singing today. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 weeks ago from South Africa

      Oh my gosh, I am laughing at myself, as I'm doing what you're telling us to do all the way. And how wonderful to use my singing voice! It is such a successful way to relieve stress: Sing!

      You are an awesome teacher and vocalist, dear Audrey!

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Paula

      You're the best! No one can out do you when it comes to commenting on an article. I feel like you're right here with me. (Wish you were...if I ever got a hold on you, believe me, I'd prove to you that you have a pleasant singing voice)!

      Thank you for always supporting my singing articles. You realize it's been close to 7 years. Where has the time gone?

      And I want to mention that singing alone is just fine. You don't have to have an audience to sing to. You get the same health benefits whether you sing in the shower or in front of another person.

      Singing is a personal connection to our own feelings...a marvelous and healthy way to release emotions. It also wakes up our endorphins giving us a positive feeling which mimics morphine. (And it's legal and free). :)

      So sing on dearest Paula. Thanks for coming by and I've missed you too!

      Peace and love,

      Audrey

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Mary

      Good for you! You clearly love to sing which is all the more reason to re-kindle your singing. I'm thrilled to know that this article has had something to do with your decision to sing.

      I hope your husband mows the lawn often :)

      Thanks,

      Audrey

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Venkatachari

      How wonderful that you have recordings of your late wife's singing voice! She was a true artist, singing with confidence and passion. Thank you so much for sharing this and a big thanks for being here.

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Jay C

      Well...sing in the shower my friend :) So nice of you to drop by and comment. Appreciate it.

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi Ruby

      When you approach "the break" area of your voice, if you lighten your sound your voice won't crack. But be sure you take a big, big, breath before lift-off. Keep the sound light and fairly soft during this exercise. Keep working on it - you're a good student!

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Mar,

      I love teaching others to sing. Your kind, sweet words men so very much to me. I hope when the time comes for me to transition to my heavenly home I will still be blessed to teach music.

      I also want you to know how much I love reading your book "The Rain and Everything". It has become my personal guide for inner strength. Thank you for sharing a rainbow of wisdom and love.

      Hugs,

      Audrey

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      whonunuwho

      Being a part of a choir is much like being an instrument in an orchestra. Every voice contributes to the beauty and message. Thanks for sharing your experience. And thanks for the blessings my friend.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Audrey.....You're such an excellent and patient teacher. Your students must love you~~~well, actually I'm sure everyone loves you! I've commented in the past on your hubs about singing & informed you I'm really not a singer. But in your writing, you continue to insist that if we can speak, we can sing. I DO believe you.

      Of course, I'd have always given anything to have a great singing voice, but the reality is, although I love music and enjoy singing, I have to sing alone~~ in private.

      Alas, Audrey, my appreciation and love for music is reduced these days to "listening, " which is still a favorite pass time. I also used to LOVE to dance & could dance very well. Now if it's not a slow dance with a partner, my old-not-so-limber-anymore-body does not LIKE for me to move quickly nor rocking and rolling--ly!!! If you know what I mean.

      No matter, my lovely friend. I had to stop by and say Hello. I've missed you! Peace, Paula

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 weeks ago from Brazil

      I am excited to try this and will do so when my husband isn't in the house. I used to sing in my car with the radio and loved listening to music.

      He doesn't like hearing it so I will wait until he is mowing the lawn.

      You've given me the confidence to rekindle my love of singing.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      It is an inspiring tutorial for those who want to sing and are hesitating to do it. My wife is a wonderful singer who is no more now in this world. But, I have ten songs recorded from her voice and keep listening to them often. She used to sing very loudly at times performing her daily tasks without any worry of other people around.

      Thanks for encouraging people to sing and enjoy their voices.

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Oh, Bill, you've got me laughing so much my cereal milk is draining from my nostrils. :) And as for my improved writing - well - you're the wind beneath my wings!

      Thanks for your continued encouragement and advice.

      Love,

      Audrey

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 4 weeks ago from Houston, TX USA

      Sounds good, but I must stop because my wife came home. She does not like me singing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      The book continues to grow, right before our very eyes. Great chapter....you are on a creative roll and it's wonderful to see. Carry on my wayward . . . well, son doesn't work there, does it? That's why I don't write poetry. :)

      love,

      bill

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

      I sat up straight and did all of your instructions. My voice broke when I was doing the jet liftoff. I know it takes time to learn how to control my voice, but I must say that I am doing much better. I just have to remember to practice more. I love to sing! Thank you for all you do in helping us use our singing voice better.......

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 4 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Audrey,

      You are indeed a vocal coach and a teacher of the most generous kind. Your love of music / singing inspires me.

      What a wealth of information and affirmation here - will be back to practice these exercises.

      Have a peaceful weekend. Love ya, Maria

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 weeks ago from United States

      Yes, singing adds so much more enjoyment to our lives. As a choir member for several years in my youth, it always made me feel as though I was a part, and being able to express myself meant a lot at that time of my life. Thank you for this nice reminder and work ell done. Blessings to you and family, my friend. whonu

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