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How to Sing Like a Professional and Style Your Voice

Audrey Hunt, a renowned vocal coach, shares valuable information for singing like a professional. Learn how to improve your present voice.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

What One Thing Do All Professional Singers Have In Common?

I've spent more than half of my life training singers to sing like a professional. Not all professional singers are trained, however, they all have one thing in common—they all sound different in terms of their vocal style. Having a unique sound when singing is one of the most important elements of success. Trying to sound exactly like another recording star is useless in this business and won't get you very far.

Singers such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Blake Shelton, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett (and the list goes on and on) are all famous professional singers with outstanding voices, and yet they sound completely different from one another.

So if it's a mistake to sound like your favorite recording or broadway star, who should you try to sound like?

Finding Your Own Individual, Unique Style of Singing

I teach my vocal students to "sparkle your own way." Be unique and dare to be different. Above all, be convincing. Find that beautiful truth deep inside and "sell it."

If you want to sing and develop your "signature style" try not to sing along with a recording. You'll be to tempted to try to imitate the singer. That's exactly what you don't want to do. You can also damage your voice as you try to reach notes outside of your natural range.

One way to develop your own singing style is to learn the blues scale. Locate the image of the blues scale as found on the piano using the photo to the right (above,)

Sing it repeatedly every day until you can sing it a capella. (Without the aid of the piano.) Try improvising with parts of the blues scale. An example of how to do this is presented below in the "Happy Birthday to You" section.

The blues scale can be applied to almost any melody and is a helpful teaching tool for establishing "licks" and "riffs." Riffs and licks are just short pieces of music that move quickly in a specific pattern, often made up or improvised and commonly found in pop songs.

Work you voice using scales. Working on agility gives you a chance to get your voice moving and exploring different patterns that are found in pop music. By practicing scales or patterns that move quickly, you can develop better agility.

Here's an Easy, Fun Way to Start Developing Your Singing Style

Here's an exercise from a college class I taught to singers which was instrumental in teaching them to create their own style. Follow these steps and you'll be on your way:

  1. Sing the first phrase of Happy Birthday To you. Sing only the first phrase.
  2. This time try changing the word "you." As an example, just before landing on the right pitch for "you," start with the pitch slightly above then land on the right pitch.
  3. Again, sing the phrase but this time do something different with the word "to."
  4. Continue experimenting with different words within the phrase. Then do the same with other phrases within the song.
  5. Also sing the song using different meters (rhythms). Think of the samba, waltz, blues, jazz, classical, show tunes and even rap (good practice for timing.)
  6. Experiment with different moods and feelings.
  7. Add a falsetto or head voice using a sliding sound.
  8. Vary your dynamics.
  9. When you tire of this song, go through these steps with another very easy song.

Tip - Always stay with the melody and avoid straying too far from it as you change a pitch here or there. The song must always retain the recognizable melody. Your goal is to "add to" the songs interpretation, not destroy it.

Avoid Throat Irritation

Every singer has a responsibility to learn what to do to avoid throat problems. The tips I'm going to talk to you about, have been tried and tested for years among singers from every genre. They have been proven to work.

How to avoid throat Irritation When Singing

A unique, recognizable voice.

Create an Image to Define Who You Are

Define your image and once you do, don't change it. Many "wanna be's" miss the boat completely with this important tip. To sing like a professional your personality must bloom through developing and knowing who you are.

To help you understand the importance of image, take a look at the list of singers below. While such a list is unlimited, I've tried to include just a few that are known for their striking personalities.

  • What do you think of when you think about Madonna? What is it about her personality that puts her in a particular class? Her longevity proves that she knows exactly who she is and displays her image with confidence.
  • Elvis Presley still remains "The King of Rock and Roll." He made simple songs "dance off the page." He made a success out of being a sexy singer. This was his image. He studied famous gospel and blues singers.
  • Karen Carpenter illuminated the sweet all american girl. She is still my favorite female recording artist. With a tone that was rich, rounded and pitch perfect she could speak volumes about the text just with the inflection of her words.
  • Luciano Pavarotti, the italian tenor with remarkable technique and beautiful tone can carry a full sound up to the highest notes with ease. His smile is infectious.
  • One of the most successful R&B/Pop singers of his time is the tenor Luther Vandross. He moves easily throughout his range proving that good technique enhances a long singing career.
  • LeAnn Rimes, a singer from the time she could walk has been showing off her vocal chops anywhere that she can perform. She has agility, flexibility, a high belt and intentionally flips registers on ascending intervals in her country songs.
  • Garth Brooks is a handsome splash tenor who made it big in the country market. He has very good technique, solid and consistent which stays with him through each passing year. His biggest image other than his voice is his hat.

But this isn't the only requirement for singing like a pro.

A One-of-a-Kind Vocalist

Technique Will Set You Free

Make no mistake about it, you must learn, develop and sing with vocal technique if you really want to sing like a professional. Your technique must be flawless. It becomes you, your voice, your truth and your passion.

Your technique is so refined, so much a part of your singing that it becomes totally automatic. There is no other way to sing but with consistent and great technique. How do you know if you have it? You've practiced every single technical exercise you lack over and over again, day after day, week after week and month after month until the particular technique becomes automatic and easy.

You don't stop because it's difficult and you don't like it. You'll never become a pro with that attitude.

So, what is vocal technique and what will it do for me?

American Idol, Kristen McNamara, Learns to Style Her Voice

American Idol's one of three finalist, Kristin McNamara, a dedicated vocal student and I loved working with her.

American Idol's one of three finalist, Kristin McNamara, a dedicated vocal student and I loved working with her.

Vocal Tips

  • Avoid ice or cold drinks before singing. Ice constricts the vocal cords.
  • Avoid all dairy products. Dairy will cause phlegm in the voice.
  • Never "clear your throat." Instead, swallow a few times.
  • To bring saliva to the throat, gently bite the tip of the tongue.
  • Avoid yelling or screaming and all shouting to keep from injuring the vocal bands.
  • Anti-histamines will cause severe drying of the throat.
  • Always bathe your throat with plenty of room temperature water.

The Powerhouse for the Voice Is the Belly Breath

Breathing by using the diaphragmatic muscle.  Inflate the abdominal wall upon inhalation and deflate as the air is let out.  Monitoring the belly helps in learning how to breathe correctly.

Breathing by using the diaphragmatic muscle. Inflate the abdominal wall upon inhalation and deflate as the air is let out. Monitoring the belly helps in learning how to breathe correctly.

17 Vocal Techniques for a Better Voice

Depending on where you are right now as a singer you may already sing with some of these techniques. Only a qualified vocal teacher can properly evaluate your voice and recommend some or all of the following:

  1. Projecting confidence through posture. Proper spine alignment also affect the singers tone.
  2. Releasing tension. Tension in the body creates tension in the tone.
  3. Breathing basics. Learn to sing by using the diaphragmatic muscle as well as the dorsal. This is the foundation to great singing.
  4. Measuring your air.
  5. Opening your ribs.
  6. Putting your larynx into position
  7. Matching pitch.
  8. Identifying your vocal range
  9. Acquiring a beautiful tone
  10. Lifting the soft palate.
  11. Developing and controlling vibrato
  12. Exploring Resonance.
  13. Eliminating nasality.
  14. Singing forward.
  15. Shaping your vowels for clarity.
  16. Back vowels/front vowels
  17. Consonant articulation.

Adding to all of this the singer needs to learn how to express himself through the lyric. Memorize your material as soon as possible. You will then be free to "live" the message of the song and bring life to each phrase. This is when using your own unique style and sound come into play.

Tips and Guidance For Singers

Know What Key You Sing In

You've found a song you just love. It's got your name on it. You believe every word and you can't wait to learn it and make it your own. Question. What key do you sing the song in?

This question always brings a blank stare from most any new student I coach. Yet, nothing is as important as singing a song in the right key. The key allows you to bring out your best voice. You won't have to strain for the high notes or eliminate the low ones because you can't quite reach them.

There is no single key that we sing in. Songs are written in different keys. You may sing three or four songs in the key of E flat major, and another six or seven in the key of C major. And if the composer writes the song in a minor key, you may be able to sing the song in the original key or you may need it transposed up or down into a different minor key.

I have to smile when a vocalist tells me they sing a song in the "original" key knowing they have never even heard the original key. The composer may need to transpose (change the key) to a comfortable range for the recording artist. Therefore, even the artist isn't singing it in the original key.

I highly recommend that you try to find a song that fits your singing key. If you do this all notes will be easy to sing. No more straining trying to reach those impossible high notes.

Summary

I appreciate the opportunity to write about this subject. I've spent my life as a professional singer and teacher of voice and love sharing this information. Review this often as there is so much to remember.

  • In learning how to sing like a professional you must develop your own unique style. This "difference" in sound is what draws an audience to you and builds your fan base.
  • Learn the blues scale and practice improvisation.
  • The more scale work, the better your flexibility will be.
  • Let your personality shine as you build your signature voice.
  • Listen to a variety of recording artists and make a list of their defining qualities.
  • Hire a vocal coach/teacher to receive feedback and learn new vocal techniques.
  • Memorize your material asap.
  • Know what key you sing every song in. Have your music transposed if needed
  • Recording your voice and listening back helps you to identify your flaws as well as your strengths..

I also highly recommend learning how to read music. This will really put you in the driver's seat.

Never, ever give up. Listen to your heart. If singing is your passion and you're good at it share your voice with others. And never forget that "singing is your birthright."


“If I cannot fly, let me sing.”
― Stephen Sondheim

© 2013 Audrey Hunt

Comments

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 16, 2015:

Au fait - I always enjoy the comments you leave on my hubs. You make a good point with mentioning that anyone interested in singing can learn something from this hub. Thank you my friend and appreciate the great votes and sharing.

Audrey

C E Clark from North Texas on May 10, 2015:

Lots of great information for people who want to be singers or teachers of singers. Never hurts to learn these things even if one only aspires to sing in the church choir. Vote up and BAUI, shared with followers.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on December 02, 2014:

OpiePride

Thanks so much. Glad I could be of help. Visit me again. vocalcoach

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on June 15, 2013:

traslochimilano - Thanks so much for enjoying my hub on Singing Like a Professional! Glad you stopped by :)

traslochimilano from USA on June 14, 2013:

Beautiful hub! I like it

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 29, 2013:

Sherry Hewins - Thanks Sherry for the nice comments and for voting up and sharing. Have a wonderful day!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 29, 2013:

OpiePride - So nice to see you here and to find that my hub is helpful. Thanks.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 29, 2013:

Elisha Jachetti - Thank you for recognizing that actors can glean from this information as well as singers. It's so true!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 29, 2013:

mckbirdbks - Well, good for Dean Martin :) Thanks Mike for acknowledging the many years I have given to my chosen field. It's good to be appreciated :)

Enjoy your day my friend.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 27, 2013:

Such great and practical advice. Voting up and sharing.

Michael Pridemore from Lexington, Ky on May 26, 2013:

This is one to keep close for reference, thanks

Elisha Jachetti on May 17, 2013:

A lot of these tips are helpful for reasons beyond just singing, but also for actors who need to preserve their speaking voice and use it in a healthy way.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 17, 2013:

"Ice constricts the vocal cords." This is why ? Dean Martin drank straight scotch. Again, you are so very knowledgeable about your subject. Bravo. I'll sing, but I will spare you that.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 16, 2013:

rajan - Hello from California. Thank you for voting up, useful, interesting and sharing. I appreciate that you have pinned my hub as well. You must have a background in singing as your comments are so good. I hope you're day is blessed with peace and much joy!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 14, 2013:

A very interesting and useful hub, Audrey. A good singer has his own signature voice and doesn't sound like any other singer. He has to has his own unique stamp on his singing. and yes singing with an open throat sort of is very important too along with singing the same word in different ways.

Your summarization of the points is very useful.

Voted up, useful, interesting. Shared and pinned.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 13, 2013:

Martie ~ I'm working on a video for youtube - in fact several of them. One will include a solo by yours truly.:) I tried uploading a couple of teaching videos to youtube but it didn't work out. I'm not very bright when it comes to this kind of stuff. Going to ask cloudexplorer for some help. Thanks my friend for being here and the generous votes. Hugs!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on May 12, 2013:

Wow! What a fabulous hub! How I wish I have had the opportunity to develop my voice into a real music instrument. I do have my doubts about professional vocalists who have had no formal training. There are just too much to know and do in order to impress an informed and educated audience with your voice.

I wish I could hear you sing, Audrey.

I vote this hub up to the highest star :)

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 09, 2013:

Dear Eddy ~

Thank you dear friend for visiting my hub on singing. I remember that your family sang during your childhood. Wonderful!

Take good care of yourself and keep writing your marvelous poetry and sharing your amazing photos. Much love ~ Audrey

Eiddwen from Wales on May 09, 2013:

A brilliant hub Audrey but what else do I expect from you ?

I grew up amidst singing therefore find your hubs very interesting.Here's to so many more to come.

Lots of love from my little corner of Wales.

Edd.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 07, 2013:

Hi Ron ~

Appreciate your comments and understand just where you're coming from. Many factors are involved when it comes to singing like a pro. There's no denying that what we "bring to the table" in the first place is a very strong influence on how far we will go.

Going to go check out your hubs now and thanks a bunch!

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on May 07, 2013:

I am not a "singer." Though it's something I enjoy, I am not motivated to expend a lot of time and energy on it. But I appreciate your emphasis on letting your personality come through. Although I'm sure my vocal equipment is decidedly ordinary, I've often thought listening to some professional that they were no better equipped than I - it's their projection of a vivid musical personality that makes the difference. Thanks for an informative hub.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 07, 2013:

Hello Sunshine - I just finished reading your hub (yesterday) on "Mondays" and loved it. So thanks. You sparkle in so many ways! And you have a way of bringing out the sparkle in others too. Thanks for being here and have a marvelous day!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on May 07, 2013:

Excellent advice! I sparkle in my own way, the problem is no one wants to hear me. So I sparkle again and again. Thanks for the tips. I heard about dairy products not being good for singers, maybe I should cut back ;)

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 05, 2013:

sgbrown - I'm always here to help you and know you could fulfill one of those three wishes! So glad to hear that you found this information interesting and useful. Keep on singing!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on May 05, 2013:

If I found a genie in a bottle and had 3 wishes, one of those would have to be to be able to sing! I love to sing, but don't do it well. This is a very interesting and full of great information! Voted up, interesting and useful! :)

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on May 05, 2013:

Thanks,Im sure it'll very handy.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 05, 2013:

Hi Kevin! Thanks so much for enjoying this hub on singing. Yes, I think every singer should have his own unique sound and style to set him apart from all others. Glad you understand and appreciate this. Hope to see you again soon!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 05, 2013:

PaoloJpm - I'm glad to meet you and thank you for being here. I will soon be adding videos to all of my hubs about singing. I think that will help you.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on May 05, 2013:

Fossillady - Thanks for your kind words! I have watched AI since day one. I have had students on this show from time to time. I really enjoy The Voice too. This seasons judges are first-rate! Getting down to the wire on eliminations now which is quite exciting. Wish we were watching these shows together - what fun! Thanks Kathi and big hugs back!

Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on May 02, 2013:

Very interesting and informative hub. The point you mentioned that to be unique you must possess a different voice is really true. You have thought deeply even into the minute details of this topic. Thanks a lot.

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on April 30, 2013:

How I wish to meet you in person. I've always want to learn the proper singing. Watching others performing seems not enough to be called one though.

Kathi from Saugatuck Michigan on April 29, 2013:

Hi Audrey, well, I'll never be a pro, or a singer for that matter, but I can recognize good advise any day of the week, and your hub fits the bill. Do you watch Idol or The Voice. I'm addicted and can certainly appreciate talent. I'm just a lover of music! Hugs, Kathi

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 29, 2013:

Oh thank you teaches 12345. It's always such a treat to see you and to read your kind and supportive comments. Hugs to you!

Dianna Mendez on April 28, 2013:

I enjoyed this post very much. Especially like the vocal tips and the Happy Birthday exercise. Your students must really enjoy your lessons.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

mcbirdbks - You are priceless Mike! And I'll take your singing along with the grating anytime. You're the best in my book!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

tobusiness - I'm so glad you're here and love your comments. Thanks for the voting up and for sharing!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

Mhatter99 - In your time, I imagine you were really something! In fact, I think you're really something right now! Thank you.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

drbj ~ Hahahaha! I must say the image of your dog smirking had me in stitches! And oh yes...you and I would have made a stunning team. With your talent and my coaching we would give "Broadway" a run for their money.

Dining lavishly on hubpage recipes and buttermilk. (You can skip the buttermilk if you like.) You are too kind for the votes and amazing comments.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

dahoglund -

You've made a good point! How true this is. To find your own voice as you write. Thanks for sharing this my friend!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

shiningirisheyes - tee hee, tee hee!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

KathyH - You are quite right in believing that some singer simply have a "gift."

However, anyone who has a desire to sing, absolutely can as long as they have the right guidance. Thanks so much for your comments, votes and for sharing!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

Dear billybuc - I couldn't ask for more then to have your approval on a hub. Thank you dear man!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

shiningirisheyes - Hahahahaha!!! I love your hilarious comments. And nothing could spoil our friendship, including your singing :)

Now - listen up! Anyone Can Sing! Yes...and that includes you. :) There's no secret to singing, all you need are the right tools and a blueprint from yours truly. Meanwhile here is your first singing lesson. 1. Step into the shower and sing along with your favorite song blasting away. If the shower head doesn't fall off - you're doing great!

Hugs and thanks - Audrey

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2013:

prettynutjob - I appreciate your kind comments and the generous votes. Thanks so much!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 28, 2013:

You have an amazing depth of knowledge. I have been thinking about this the wrong way. My voice is certainly unique and different, and grating and irritating. Just stopped by to say hello.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on April 27, 2013:

A brilliant and useful article, I really wish I had this information about 30 years ago :). I had the inner voice, but not so easy on the ears :). Voting up and sharing.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on April 26, 2013:

I use to sing. I wrecked my voice when I was in college. I go a little flat. But in my time...

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 25, 2013:

Dear RusticLiving ~ Thank you so much for your kind words of support. Coming from such a great talent such as yourself, I'm floating on a cloud.

Appreciate your support so very much. Thank you also for your votes and the sharing!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 25, 2013:

I once thought I was a pretty good singer but I changed my mind one day when I looked at my puppy dog who appeared to be listening to my dulcet tones. Have you ever seen a doggie smirk? Mine did everything but laugh out loud. At that moment I gave up my incipient singing career and settled for being a darn good audience. Now if I had these outstanding instructions of yours . . .

Voted way up, Audrey, m'dear.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Idyllwild Ca. on April 25, 2013:

Dear Faith - Love your sense of humor! I'm still giggling :) One of these days I am going to prove to you that you can sing. Thanks so much.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on April 25, 2013:

I think that much of what you say about singing applies to writers as well. Writers have to find their own voice and not try to write like someone else. I notice that several writers on hubpages are also singers.

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on April 25, 2013:

giggle giggle

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 25, 2013:

Beckie? Were you the one who said you were professional in this poll? ;)

Great job, vocalcoach! I really do believe some singers simply have a "gift" and they were born to sing! Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. ;) You've given some great tips here! I had no idea ice was bad for singers! I learned something new. Voted up and sharing! :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 25, 2013:

I love that you teach your students to find their own voice....just like writers. That unique sound that is all ours. Oh I imagine you to be a marvelous teacher. Thank you for walking us through your technique and philosophy. Lovely work you do!

love,

bill

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on April 25, 2013:

Hi

You state that each singer sounds different, depending on their singing style - Truer words were never spoken as my style resembles cats in great pain! I commend you for seeing the possibilities in everyone but I have not been your student. I consider our friendship a good thing and would never want to do anything to spoil it - like listening to my singing voice.

Wouldn't you agree that SOME of us just don't have the ability to sing? Me being at the top of the list....LOL

I hope you appreciate my humor as I take your hubs seriously and think this one is written magnificently.

However, the last time I tried singing in public, firetrucks, ambulances and cops showed up! LOL

Faith Reaper from southern USA on April 25, 2013:

Wow, these are very interesting techniques for sure. I know my voice is unique, so that is why I always sit either on the front row at church, or on the end and not behind anyone, so as to not disturb anyone! LOL

I know God loves my singing praises to Him though. I love to sing, and believe it or not, I was in the choir in high school. How I made that, I just do not know. I believe God was showing me mercy, as He knew I hated PE. haha

Voted up +++ and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper

Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on April 25, 2013:

Great. informative hub, voted up, more and shared. There is some really great vocal training advice, in this hub.

Liz Rayen from California on April 25, 2013:

WOW.. you finished it! Wonderful Job vocalcoach! You are by far the best vocal teacher I've ever known! Your points are spot on and I have trained my students to do the same. I love using the blues scale. It really helps to develop a great tone and style within your voice. Great job "M"! Voted up up and up and shared! ♥

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