How to Sing the Five Basic Singing Vowels


Mouth Formation For Singing Vowels

Each vowel requires a different mouth position.  Learn these formations to sing with clarity.
Each vowel requires a different mouth position. Learn these formations to sing with clarity. | Source

Good Articulation Begins With Good Vowel Production

YOU are the instrument as far as singing is concerned and your entire body is involved. The singer has to combine and control many parts of the body in order to sing well. One of the most important techniques to learn is proper shaping of primary vowels. (Ah Eh Ee Oh Oo.) In order to sing in such a way that every word is clear and can be understood the singer must learn how to shape the vowel within the word itself. He must know how to sing the five basic singing vowels.

One of the most frustrating experiences to a listener is not being able to understand the words being sung. Here's a typical scenario of what can happen when the singer has no knowledge of vowel production:

You've just auditioned for a role in a musical theater production and are quite pleased with your performance. You are sure you will be cast in the coveted role. Call backs are announced at the end of the audition but your name was not called..You approach the director tearfully asking why? To your amazement he remarks that although you have a very nice voice your words were sloppy and difficult to understand. He suggests you work on your diction and audition for the next musical.

The importance of learning how to sing with good clear diction is the #1 responsibility of the singer.

Don't Sing Vowels The Same Way You Speak

Most singers are surprised to find that they are singing vowels incorrectly. They think that each word sung, is pronounced the same way as when they speak. They wonder why their voice doesn't "carry" and don't understand why their tone goes flat (it's not just a bad ear that causes off-key singing.).

Although there are 26 letters in the alphabet, there are only 5 primary vowels. These 5 vowels when executed properly in singing will help in "carrying" the tone resulting in a beautiful sound.

This is because vowels carry the greatest energy where the vocal tract is most open.

Singing Vowels Requires Mouth Space

Vowels are catchy little critters with a demanding attitude. The singer needs to learn to sing vowels while not allowing consonants, which resonate and project more poorly than vowels do, to get in the way. Just try to sing the following consonants and you will see that you can't sustain them.

  • B C D F G H J K
  • P Q R S T V W Y Z (X )

So in learning to produce proper vowel sounds, first practice just the vowel itself. Use the correct lip position and allow plenty of space within the mouth itself.

Remember that as a singer, you need to sing on open vowels, and not sustain consonant sounds, in order to maximize the resonance and carrying power of your voice.

Mouth Position For Singing Words Containing 'Ah' Vowel

My student Angela demonstrates a proper mouth opening for words containing the 'Ah' vowel. Practice singing words using the primary vowel 'Ah'  such as mama, hot, brought.
My student Angela demonstrates a proper mouth opening for words containing the 'Ah' vowel. Practice singing words using the primary vowel 'Ah' such as mama, hot, brought. | Source

The Five Pure Primary Vowels Used in Singing

Every vowel should be enunciated with your tongue forward in the mouth, tucked neatly behind your bottom teeth. The back of the tongue should be kept away from the throat to keep the sound nice and clear. Always keep the tongue relaxed and free from tension when singing.

The five primary vowels are:

  • Ah - as in father
  • Eh - as in met
  • Ee - as in meet
  • Oh - as in home
  • Oo - as in blue

The key to good production of these 5 vowels is in the formation of the mouth including the jaw and cheeks.

Singing With Correct Mouth Position for 'Ah' Sounds

Placing 2 fingers in the mouth to determine the correct mouth opening for singing any word containing the 'Ah' vowel.
Placing 2 fingers in the mouth to determine the correct mouth opening for singing any word containing the 'Ah' vowel. | Source

How to Position The Mouth To Sing The"Ah" Vowel

The position of the mouth for the sound of Ah is made with the mouth wide open.

  • Position the mouth in an oval shape.
  • Place 2 fingers (pointer and ring) between the top and bottom teeth lengthwise to assure that you have enough space.
  • Do not tense the jaw or tongue. It is crucial to keep these areas as relaxed as possible. This will give you a smooth and rich tone without tension.
  • With the mouth in this position speak the word "haaaaa." Hold on to the word sustaining the ah sound. Make it sound like a long sigh.
  • Follow this with singing the same word on an easy and comfortable tone. Be sure the pitch is not to low or too high. Make it sound like a long sigh.

Words That Contain The 'Ah' Position

Here's a simple exercise that will help you to keep your mouth in the correct position for all words containing the vowel Ah.

  1. Standing or sitting in front of a mirror sing the Ah vowel and monitor your mouth position.
  2. After doing this several times, close your eyes repeating this exercise. As you are holding the sound (sustaining) open your eyes to see if your mouth is remaining open.
  3. Repeat the closing and opening of the eyes as you sing Ah several times.
  4. Now sing the following words containing the ah position, monitoring your mouth opening by looking in the mirror again.

Hot, Not, Brought, Fall, Father, Amen, (ah), Call, Doll

Remember to keep the open mouth position until the consonant makes connection. In other words, don't allow the open mouth to change to a smaller opening as you approach the consonant. This is the key to making the word clear.

Mouth Positioning For The 'Eh' Vowel

Think of the word "met." Sing the word met, sustaining the 'Eh' sound. The mistake most singers make is to sing 'Ih' instead of 'Eh.' As you attempt to sing this vowel, place your lips in such a way that you are just beginning a smile.

  1. Keep the tongue very relaxed in the bed of the mouth with the tip resting lightly against the bottom front teeth.
  2. Sing 'Meh sustaining the eh sound to give you time to make any necessary adjustments.
  3. Feel for light vibrations just above the upper lip and across the nose.
  4. Lingering on the mmm will add these vibrations if you fail to feel them.
  5. Using a mirror sing the following words on a light and easy tone monitoring the lip position.

met, wet, set, get, let, bet, pet, blend, mend

Introducing The Ee Vowel Mouth Position

I prefer using the sound of Ee when beginning warm ups for the voice. Here's why. In teaching singers to concentrate on feeling vibrations through the hard palate (roof of the mouth.) the tongue is closer to this area than any other vowel. Developing rich resonating sounds is one of the main goals for excellent singing.

For this reason I often start warming up the voice on the vowel Ee, gradually introducing other vowels as we work up and down the scales.

1. The mouth position for Ee is a flat tongue resting against the bottom front teeth. The lips are in a relaxed slight "smile" position. The suttle rise of the cheeks will pull the lips into perfect position.

2. Practice as outlined above to learn to form the Ee vowel. Don't rush this process. Then sing the following words containing the Ee sound on a warm comfortable tone

meet, sweet, feet, leave, she, he, be, see, we

How To Sing The Oh Vowel

The Oh vowel is easy to learn but often executed incorrectly when singing a full word. So you will need full concentration for voicing this vowel. It's not uncommon to hear a singer produce the sound of "uh" instead of a nice round Oh.

Note: For vocalists who have been trained in the use of diphthongs, remember to add a quick " Oo" following the Oh. Example: Oh-oo. This only applies to a singular Oh vowel and not when it rests between consonants.

  1. To shape the lips to sing an Oh, simply form the lips into a round Oh. To test your mouth position opening - with the lips in the Oh position try to stick your pointer finger through the opening and back out again. The finger should not touch the lips (unless you have extra big fingers.)
  2. After singing this vowel several times, add the following words:

so, no, ho, though, foe, blow, know, cold

Shaping The Lips For Singing The Sound Of "OO"

mouth position for the vowel oo
mouth position for the vowel oo | Source

Shaping The vowel Oo

Just pucker up as if to kiss someone and you have shaped the Oo vowel perfectly. That's all there is to it.

Then sing the following words using the sound of Oo.

blue, too, new, do, goo, loo, moo, moon, June, tune, balloon, room, coo, cool

Learning how to enunciate the vowels correctly takes some practice but makes all the difference in your singing. It directly effects your sound.

Summing it all up

The word legato is an italian word that means to sing or play smoothly and connected. Legato singing must be the primary goal of all singers. In other words unless the phrase specifically indicates a break or pause, each note and word is connected one to the other. This means that vowels should be balanced when singing from one vowel sound to another.

To match one vowel to another there must be absolutely no tension in the tone or face, lips, jaw and tongue. Develop the habit of relaxing the neck and shoulder areas before and during vocalization. Be sure the knees are not locked. Tension is the biggest enemy to the singer.


  • Keep the throat hydrated during singing
  • Avoid all dairy
  • Drink only room temperature water (cold and ice will restrict the vocal cords.)
  • Avoid clearing your throat
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes (going from air conditioned room to hot outdoors.)
  • If your throat begins to hurt or you feel a "gripping" stop singing. You are straining your voice.

All correct and good singing should be effortless and easy. If it's not - it's wrong.

I sure hope you've learned more about How to sing the five basic singing vowels. When you've got it all down and you're ready for your solo at the "Met", let me know.

~ Sing with joy ~

So, have you learned anything new from my hub?

  • Yes indeed. Good stuff here.
  • I've learned a few things I didn't know before reading this hub.
  • For me, this is mostly a review.
  • Nah - I already knew this.
See results without voting

© 2012 Audrey Hunt

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Comments 56 comments

Rusticliving profile image

Rusticliving 4 years ago from California

I'm so happy to finally see this hub! Great information on proper vowel placement. I've used it for years with my students and vocal groups.

You are a fabulous "vocal coach" and I learned from the best!

Beautifully executed. Love the header! Thumbs up vocalcoach! :)

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Wow! This is an amazing, informative hub, vocalcoach. Voted up and extremely useful :)

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

vocalcoach......I love this hub for more than it's great info! You have reminded me of my "voice lessons" some 40 years ago.....(don't ask) may or may not remember way way back, a young male singer by the name of Clint Holmes (I think he had 2 wonder of them being, "Playgrounds In My Mind")???

Well, his parents lived one town away from mine. His mother was a Diva in her day, from England, until her American G.I. hubby carried her to the U.S.........she gave voice lessons. I signed up. 5 months later, down and out, my voice lessons wound up under my list of "we won't try that again!"

One question.....where were you when I needed you?? lol UP+++

DFiduccia profile image

DFiduccia 4 years ago from Las Vegas

Wow, how nice of you to share this information. This is a great hub for anyone who loves to sing. You are tops in my book. Keep them coming!


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

Very thorough and well written hub. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but I've always dreamed of being a singer, so I found this interesting. Voted up.

writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

You have written a wonderful hub for the would be singers.

I'll practice this in the shower. Oops, my husband caught me singing in the shower the other day, I must have had my eyes closed because I didn't realize he'd come into the bathroom.

Voted useful and very interesting, Joyce.

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Great Hub VC. I think this applies to actors and public speakers too! Sometimes I think I'm going deaf watching the "untrained" on TV and in the movies. Sloppy vowels are so annoying :)

Handicapped Chef profile image

Handicapped Chef 4 years ago from Radcliff Ky

V.C . This is a very great hub so good I had to show it to my son who is in love with singing he sings with the school opera class and with there jazz club also and have won several touraments, I just wanted to thank uou for this post he read it and loved it I hope you don't mind we printed it so he can share with the groups he is in....again great hub.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I remember singing the vowels when I was young. This is a very interesting, detailed hub. I really think this will help many people.

Sylvia's Thoughts profile image

Sylvia's Thoughts 4 years ago from Southern California

Great hub! Singers today just want to go out and sing. They do not realize the importance of getting a good foundation and learning how to properly use their instrument. I find this true in both vocal and piano students. No body wants to do warm-ups or scales. "It's boring!" they cry. I had one brand new 15 year old vocal student tell me that his vocal coach wasn't teaching him anything and he was looking for a new one. I asked him why he felt this way-what was his teacher doing. He replied, "All he wants to do is 'vocalize' and I just want to sing." Needless to say, I had a lot to tell this young man.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Wow, this is fabulous and so helpful. This definitely places a high interest on learning proper vocal performance. I only know how to do the vocal exercise I learned back in fourth grade and this is a better method.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

You truly know your stuff. I am showing this to my little boy who is really into piano and singing right now. Thank you so much.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Rusticliving - Look at first comment. And thank you so much for designing the header. You are so sweet to do this for me. Thanks babygirl. Hugs

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Audrey, from a fellow chorister and choir mistress, this is awesome. So important to have proper vowel stress while singing......or it simply comes out garbled. My vote up!

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Great hub Audrey, loved all of the illustrative photos and your headings are great, looks wonderful on the 'page'. I am passing this on to daughter!

Voted up etc.

kelleyward 4 years ago

I wish I had this hub when I was singing and songwriting. I remember my choir teacher in the 6th grade telling us to sing "99 nuns interning in an Indiana nunnery", while we pretended to have a golf ball in our mouths. I found this laughable and uncomfortable. Was she correct with this suggestion? I just remember it feeling very unnatural and a little ridiculous LOL! I love your suggestions here and will try them next time I warm up! Voted up, awesome, and shared! Take care, Kelley

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Dear Audrey - You are so knowledgeable, m'luv. What fantastic, necessary information for anyone contemplating a singing career. If I had known all these unbelievable facts early on, I could have given Streisand a run for the money. (In my dreams!) Voted way Up!

iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

Amazing formatting, presentation, and info! I wish I could sing like I sort of could in the HS choir! Love this!!!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

This was fantastic, and the layout was brilliant! I expect everyone was singing along, I know I was! Amazing, and voted up! cheers nell

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Martie - So glad that you found this hub to be useful. That's a big pay-back for putting in so many sleepless nights writing. thanks so much!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

fpherj48 - I think I do vaguely remember the song "Playgrounds in my mind." I had to giggle out loud as I read your singing lessons experience. You are so funny. And if you want to try another singing lesson, well...I'm still here!

DiFiduccia - What a nice thing to say. Now, I feel so good. Thanks for coming by and hope to see you again real soon!

Crystal Tatum - Thanks, Crystal for you kind words. And it's never too late to develop that singing voice!

Writer20 - Hahahaha!!! I am picturing you in the shower singing away with your eyes closed without a clue that hubby is there (probably grinning from ear to ear." I love it!

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this. lost my voice at a young age. blame it on churches (not really). they used to pay in SF for sight singers. that was my Sundays (and rehearsal nights).

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Good morning Green Lotus - Yes, you are absolutely right. This article does apply to actors and speakers. In fact we could all probably use a refresher course on how to speak more clearly. And speaking of actors (especially commercials) where do they dig up some of these people?

This must be terribly annoying to you in your line of work and all.

Thanks so much for your comments and take care!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Handicapped Chef - I'm thrilled that your son read this and is sharing it at school. He sounds like a young man with plenty of talent. I appreciate young people who take their craft seriously. Thanks so much for appreciating my hub. I feel great now!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Pamela99 - Sounds like this hub brought back some memories. I hope you're right about my hub helping others because that's my whole reason for doing this. Thanks, my friend!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Sylvia's Thoughts - It can be frustrating to a good qualified teacher of both voice and piano to hear this kind of thing and yet it happens all to often. I sure agree with you when you write that most singers just want to go out and sing with little or no preparation or instruction.

It boggles the mind! Thank you Sylvia for your good comments. I really like hearing this kind of feedback. Take care now.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Hello Hyphenbird - You must be so very proud of your boy for his interest in singing. I think it's great. I hope this hub will help him and thank you for sharing your comments. Take care my friend!

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

wow vocalcoach you reminded me of my younger days when I used to take coaching classes. Thank you for a revision!

loved reading it and the videos were excellent choice.

voted up and sharing it across

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

midget38 - It's so good to hear from a fellow chorister and vocalist. And your comment is right on - the words do come out garbled when proper diction is ignored. Thank you!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Jools99 - I'm so glad you like all the photos, header and that you are passing this on to your daughter. Thanks, my friend!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Hi kelleyward - I had to giggle at the "nuns" with the golf ball in the mouth exercise. Sounds a bit drastic to me. I am thrilled to hear that you'll be using my exercises. Wish I could hear you sing. Maybe sometime using skype. Thanks so much!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

drbj - well you can still give Streisand a run for her money. No way she can write like you among all the other talents you have. And did you know that she must visualize her audience sitting on the toilet to overcome her fear?

I would burst out laughing!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

iamaudraleigh - Thank you for mentioning the formatting. Really appreciate this. And I'm glad my hub brought back some delightful high school choir memories.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Dear Nell - Your comments are just as creative and enjoyable as your hubs. You are a treasure. Thank you!

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Audrey, do share more music hubs! Will be the first to visit.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Mhatter99 - Learning to sing and execute correct vowel sounds is one of the most necessary vocal lessons that I teach. The change in the singers tone and diction is amazing. Thanks for coming by and for your comments.

Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Very useful and informative hub. Great pointers, proper vocal practice is essntial to deliver a great performance.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

midget38 - I'm already working on another hub on music. Glad to have you aboard!

ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Well now I see why you are THE vocal coach :) What a great tutorial of tips and ways to improve one's voice. I vote up and will share too; there is much informatio to learn here.

nmdonders profile image

nmdonders 4 years ago

This is neat. I can't wait to be alone so I can practice! Thanks for detailing this so well. Great Hub.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Vellur - I appreciate so much you're finding my hub useful and informative. That's exactly what I wanted to achieve. And your comment regarding faithful practicing is the only way to develop skills and improve. Thank you!

Dear ChristyWrites - I want to thank you for reading my hub and the kind comments. Your vote up as well as knowing you are sharing this has brought me a big smile!

nmdonders - Ah-ha - a singer! Wonderful. I'm so glad you dropped by and to hear that you are excited about practicing these exercises. Thank you!

Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Audrey,

Very interesting and informative.

I thought if a person sang off tune it was only because they were tone deaf.

Voted up and awesome.

Take care :)

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi vocalcoach, and what a great, useful and informative hub this is. Especially for someone starting out in music! You left nothing to chance---well done!


susiebrown48 profile image

susiebrown48 4 years ago from Clearwater, FL

Loved your hub! I am not an excellent singer by any stretch of the imagination and I've set a goal to learn at least 1 respectable karaoke song. Your hub gives me a starting spot and introduced a world of what I didn't know that I didn't know!

KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Outstanding Hub! I think it's also important for singers to learn phonemes to further understand how different letters can make different sounds. Great information for new and beginning singers (or for anyone, really!)

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Great information and direction. So easy to forget the things we learned in school!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

This Hub is a tremendous learning tool. You are so right on with everything you say. Thank you for this. The next time I am at Karaoke doing "Nights in White Satin" or "Black" or "He Stopped Lovin' Her Today" or "Tied to the Whipping Post" I will keep these tips in mind. :D

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Audrey-wonderful hub filled with helpful info. I wanted to share with you that I managed to finally get my nephew into a vocal music class, much resistance from him, and he absolutely loves it. :) Have a wonderful w/e. Up/I/U & shared.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Ruchira - I'm glad you took a trip down memory lane. We tend to forget some of our memories until someone brings up a relevant subject. I sure appreciate all your support.

Thank you for voting up and across as well as sharing.

Sueswan - Most everyone thinks that singing out of tune is because the person is tone-deaf. While this is certainly the case quite often, just as many sing off key because they lack energy for the tone which is caused by poor breath control. Thanks my friend for you comments.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very interesting and useful to know the basics of singing vowels. Thanks for educating on the correct way to do so.

Thanks for sharing, Audrey.

Voting it up, useful and interesting. Sharing it.

peoplepower73 profile image

peoplepower73 4 years ago from Placentia California

Thanks for sharing this. The people on American Idol auditions could use this information. You might want to publish your work as a book or on CDs and sell them at the auditions. Voting up, Useful, and Sharing.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Thank you all for your marvelous comments. I appreciate it:) Sing for Joy!

Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK

A brilliant primer for vocal gymnastics: this is a concise, easy to follow lesson from a marvellous coach. I love the way you make the basics simple to assimilate and practice. up/shared.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Hi Docmo! How are things in the UK? I want to thank you for being here and for your kind and thoughtful comments. Great feedback! You've confirmed that I'm on the right track here :) Thanks for voting up and for sharing!

bnayr profile image

bnayr 16 months ago from Manchester

Fantastic Hub!! I produce music as a hobby and really need to work on my vocals to add as samples. You tips will help a great deal.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 16 months ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Thanks so much for being hete and for leaving such wonferful comments. Your kind words mean so much. Keep producing and live the dream


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    Audrey Hunt (vocalcoach)1,688 Followers
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    Respected vocal coach Audrey Hunt believes singing is our birthright. "If you can speak you can sing." Sing with joy and passion.

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