Audrey Hunt, author of "Anyone Can Sing," teaches us how to connect with our singing voice using the Ragdoll position.
Singing Is Sustained Speech
If you can speak, you can sing. The same tools used in speech are used in singing. The difference between the two is sustained speech. When you learn how to calibrate the balance between talking and singing, you're on your way to a pleasant-sounding voice.
Grab a bottle of room-temperature water and sip often to keep your throat hydrated during the following exercise. The vocal folds (bands, chords) require constant moisture. Cold drinks will restrict your vocal folds.
Your speaking voice is vital to the health of your singing voice. The best and fastest way to find your singing voice is through your speaking voice. The following lessons will help you find your voice.
Find Your Singing Voice by Speaking
You may be surprised to learn that one of the best and fastest ways to improve your singing is through the speaking voice. Singing is sustained speech controlled by air. It's through breath pressure that the balance between speaking and singing is attained. Learn diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) before you embark on this exciting journey. You're about to discover the voice within and become a better singer.
Before proceeding to the following exercise, remember to have plenty of room-temperature water available to keep your throat hydrated. When experimenting with vocal sound, always speak and sing in an easy, comfortable pitch. Refrain from singing too high or too low.
The following exercise will help you find the correct comfort zone and balance between speaking and singing.
For the best results, practice the following instructions in a standing position. For those who need to sit, use good posture and keep the spine straight.
Be sure to record your voice as you go through these steps. Listen carefully for the following:
- How does your recording sound?
- Is your voice too high or maybe too low?
- Is it full and rich or do you sound like a child?
- We all have a central pitch that we return to when speaking. You're about to discover where that is.
How to Find Your Central Pitch
The central speaking pitch that sounds the best in your voice is where you say, "Uh-huh." Listen to your pitch on huh, as this works best for most folks.
Pretend that someone has just asked you a question. The next sound you make is likely to be a pitch near your middle voice, as found on the huh sound.
- Say, "Uh-huh." Concentrate on the second sound (pitch) for the huh sound of
- Say this several times.
- Now, say "Uh-huh," and this time move right into saying your name on the very same pitch as huh.
- Be very aware of the pitch (sound) when you say your name. It should be one of the pitches in "Uh-huh." You may want to record this exercise. Was your pitch the same as "Uh-huh," or was it lower or higher?
- If it was lower, try again and say your name on precisely the same pitch as the "huh."
- If it was higher, match the pitch on "Uh."
The purpose of this exercise is to find your optimum speaking pitch, which helps you find unmistakeable vibrations. These vibrations give carrying power to your speaking voice and ultimately to your singing voice.
Try this exercise using different pitches. If you stay on just one pitch, this is a monotone, which is dull and lifeless.
Tip: Concentrate on vibrations or a buzzing feeling as you speak, which is critical for a rich singing voice. The best area to feel these vibrations is called "the mask" and includes the nose and area just beneath the eye-sockets.
Keep Your Throat Hydrated During Practice Sessions
How to Fix Common Vocal Problems
Open the back of the throat
Yawn to lift the soft palat
Run Out of Breath
Breathe from the diagphram
Do not lift the shoulders to inhale
Voice Cracks or Breaks
Avoid forcing the tone for a smooth transition
Practice the "siren" exercise
Support the tone with more breath
Singing flat lacks energy. Practice accenting the flat tone
Fear of Singing
Good instruction lifts confidence, reducing fear
Sing through your fear. Children, old folks, pets and nature will not judge your singing
My Voice Hurts After I Sing
You are straining the voice. Soften your singing and avoid singing too high or too low
Learn what your safe vocal range is and stay within this range
How do I Make Vibrato?
Vibrato comes naturally when all vocal techniques are present in the voice
Tension is the enemy of singing. Vibrato must have a completely relaxed tone
I Want to Sound Like My Favorite Singer
Why? Creat your own unique style and sound
Top singers each have their own style. Have fun experimenting with your own style
From Chanting to Singing
Chanting is like speak-singing. Think of moving sound up and down and in-between with your voice. Use a relaxed but confident tone, and feel the vibrations through the nose. The following will help you get started:
- Record yourself saying the word "hello" and notice the sound of both syllables, hel and lo. Do this 3 - 6 times.
- Listen to the recording. Is one syllable higher than the other? Is the pitch the same for both syllables? Try to avoid the very same sound on both syllables.
- This time, record "hello, hello," allowing the pitch to fluctuate. As you listen to your recording, check to see if some sounds are higher or lower.
- Chant and speak "Three Blind Mice." Notice what pitches come out (high, low, lower).
- Repeat, connecting your breath to the speaking voice just as you would for singing.
- Now, sing the opening three notes to "Three Blind Mice." Do this several times, feeling for a buzzing feeling in the nose (nasal resonance).
- Do not strain your voice. Stay relaxed and allow your vocal sound to come to you and not the other way around.
- Allow your singing to ride on the air supplied by the belly breath gently. Avoid lifting your chest and shoulders. Keep them completely relaxed. Feel the expansion around the lower ribcage and abdomen as you inhale.
- Finish up by singing the first three notes of "Three Blind Mice," followed by chanting the first three notes.
Tip: To pump up the volume and sing louder, use a faster airflow and add more energy. Louder doesn't mean harsher. Maintain a relaxed feeling and let the breath do the work.
Vocal Tools at Your Disposal
Your entire body is your singing instrument. Like all fine instruments, the body must be treated right to perform right. Nutrition, exercise, and a good mental attitude are vital.
Within your body, you have all the tools necessary for producing a pleasing singing voice:
- Your vocal cords produce sound.
- The resonators amplify the sound (chest, mouth, nose, head).
- The diaphragm supplies energy through air, which further sets the vocal cords into motion.
- The lips and tongue form words used to sing.
- The ears identify the pitch and help us to sing on key.
You were given all of these signing tools at birth. How you use them can change your present singing voice for the better.
Let's look at what I consider the most valuable of all of these tools.
Your Breathing Tool (The Diaphragm)
Most Important Tool for Vocal Control: the Diaphragmatic Muscle
We should always be reaching new heights with our abilities. Too many people refuse to accept singing as an ability. "If you aren't born with a magnificent voice, you are doomed," is small thinking. Think big by flexing your awareness. Be aware that you have every single tool available to you for developing a better voice.
One of these natural, necessary tools is a muscle that separates the lungs from the pelvic area known as the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the primary muscle used in the process of inspiration or inhalation.
It is a dome-shaped sheet of muscle that is inserted into the lower ribs. Lying at the base of the thorax (chest), it separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity.
When used correctly, this crucial muscle helps you sing with control—no more shaky voice, weak sound, and running out of air before finishing a phrase.
Through the process of breathing, air feeds energy to the sound you produce:
- A weak breath equals a weak tone.
- Uncontrolled air will bring an uncontrolled sound.
- Too much air will force the tone one-half step higher, making you sing sharp.
- Too little air, lacking support for the tone, will find you singing flat and off-key.
But unless you know how to use the diaphragm for breathing, it just sits there, unable to do its job. A screwdriver has many uses. It's a great tool. But unless we know what it's for and how to use this tool, it's of no value.
Think You Can't Sing?
Think you can't sing? Ridiculous. If you can speak, you can sing.
As a vocal instructor for 30 plus years, I have never found anyone who could not sing. The key is to release your natural sound without judgment. Then it's a matter of discovering your singing tools within your body.
There is no mystery to singing. If you can speak, you can sing. Yes, this includes you, my friend. Regardless of what you've heard, you can produce a natural, warm, and beautiful tone. Furthermore, you deserve to sing your favorite songs without ridicule or criticism from anyone, including yourself.
You were born to sing and, even if you have a problem with pitch. Singing on key can be learned. A small singing range can become a more extensive singing range. A lack of vibrato (the beautification of tone) becomes natural and automatic as each vocal tool is introduced and practiced.
In short, you can accomplish just about anything with your present voice, as long as you are willing to take the time to learn how.
Erase all preconceived ideas about singing. Even criticism from others is based on what they think they know (along with an unreasonable comparison to other singers).
Don't let rejection get you down. Stop telling yourself you can't sing. Please don't give up too quickly on your dreams. Stop thinking you don't have the talent to sing. Talent is good, hard work with a strong desire.
Your talent lies in learning how to use the natural tools you hold within. Your entire body is your vocal instrument. It's ready and waiting to be set free.
Embrace Your Singing Sound Without Judgement
Going From a No Voice to a Pro Voice
Singing is easy once you remove all doubt. You're going on a journey of self-discovery.
Once you locate your singing tools, you absolutely must work on each one until mastered. Practice is crucial. How long should you practice? Until using these tools become automatic.
Let's say your breathing has been all wrong. You've always used just your chest to inhale and exhale. Now you must replace chest breathing with diaphragmatic breathing. This idea is brand new to you. So, how do you change a habit that your body is familiar with to a brand new, unfamiliar, and perhaps strange pattern?
- Locate just one singing tool, such as your diaphragmatic muscle.
- Study repeatedly what this muscle does for you.
- Start working on exercises to help you use this muscle.
- Continue to practice until your new way of breathing becomes automatic.
- Test your success by singing a favorite song, concentrating only on your breath control.
- Then continue practicing every day.
Thinking that you can't learn to sing is telling yourself you don't want to. You aren't willing to put in the time and discipline needed to understand the importance of each singing tool.
As long as you are determined and persevere, you can develop an excellent vocal sound. How do I know this is true? Because I've worked with countless voices throughout my life. I've witnessed some fantastic results of singers from all walks of life worldwide, who have placed their trust in my teaching techniques.
Now, it's your turn, and high-time you set your singing voice free.
"If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it."
— Louis Armstrong
Change Your Thinking to Change Your Voice
Those who think they can't usually are right. Our mind is the most powerful tool we possess. We should be cautious about what we feed into it. We can convince ourselves of many beliefs, including the notion that we can't sing well.
Our creator did not install a perfect singing system to prevent us from using it and deny our singing ability. We all have it, but some of us never learn how to use it. If your singing is not all that it should be, and you have a desire to sing, it's high time you learn how to use it.
This tutorial helps you get started. A qualified vocal instructor with years of experience and a passion for teaching can take you even further.
But, you absolutely must develop a more positive attitude about your present ability to sing. Try to ignore all negative comments that others may throw at you. What do they know? They may be judging your singing based on their favorite recording star. Chances are they know little to nothing about the human voice and how it works.
Those who do have an educated understanding of vocalizing will rarely ever put you down when you sing. Stop putting yourself down as well. Begin experimenting with some of the exercises I provide for you, such as the "Speaking Vocal Exercise" coming up next.
A Lesson for Styling Your Voice
Re-Capping Why You Were Born to Sing
You were born to sing, and you hold every singing tool within your body. As you learn to combine and use these tools, your natural voice will emerge. You may not like what you hear at first. Understanding and applying good, solid vocal techniques will fix that. Remember:
- it takes time and regular practice for your sound to develop.
- The first vocal sound you ever made was in the form of a cry. You announced your arrival into this world with a confident, assertive sound using your complete set of vocal tools. You had no fear and could have cared less about what anyone thought about your crying.
- The only reason you judge your singing now is because you grew up being judged by others. You learned it at one time or another. It became your experience which you believed to be accurate. Everything you perceive causes an emotional reaction, whether you realize it or not. You sense the voice in your head, your thoughts, judgments, and beliefs.
- From this moment on, do not allow rejection or criticism, in any form, to discourage you from claiming your birthright to sing. Don't settle for "where you are" or rationalize that it just isn't "meant to be."
- Don't let the size of your dreams intimidate you; if other people don't want to believe in you, fine, because you'll keep moving forward. Your belief in yourself is what matters the most.
- Other people do not determine your potential. What they think about your singing does not change what God has placed inside you. God doesn't make mistakes. He gave each of us the same singing tools to discover, use and share. You are equipped with everything you need to sing.
- You have a song within you. Do not let it waste away, don't let it die. You are talented and creative, and you already have exactly what you need to sing with a rich, pleasing sound.
Singing is your birthright. So sing!
"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful."
— Mark Victor Hansen
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you have any tips on how to relax my throat when trying to sing?
Answer: This is a common problem among singers. Stay relaxed and practice "open throat" exercises. Youtube offers some good ones. Another thing to address is the fear itself. Fear can cause the throat to tense up which affects the singing tone. "Knowledge is the antidote to fear" so learn and study all you can about the singing voice.
© 2018 Audrey Hunt
myriah on March 24, 2020:
I try really hard to sing and I have an okay singing voice how do I get it to a professional level? I want to impress people
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 16, 2020:
Thanks for being here and I want you to sing, It's your birthright and it's healthy. So, sing freely, my friend!
franchesca-hp on February 09, 2020:
I am now encouraged to sing. This helps a lot! :)
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 02, 2019:
Coming from an expert like yourself, I appreciate your thumbs up on my article. Thanks for taking time to read and comment.
Marlene Bertrand from USA on June 02, 2019:
This is the perfect tutorial for beginners. I think it is valuable for anyone who uses their voice as a "tool." I narrate audiobooks and the same lessons you teach here are just as applicable for someone who narrates.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 16, 2018:
Your comments touch my heart. Your teacher has no business giving you such a negative comment about your voice. If she were professional and kind, she would have taken time to teach you how to use your voice. The results would have been very good. I
'm glad you still sing. Keep on doing it!
So good to see you. I've missed you. Thanks for your kind comments. They mean so much. My best to you.
You were born to sing. Never doubt this. You just need someone to show you how to use your vocal tools. Begin working on these exercises and contact me if you would like my help.
Janisa from Earth on July 09, 2018:
But what if I wasn't born to sing....
I always thought that i could never sing, but your post gave me some motivation. I'll give your tips a try :)
Tina Siuagan from Rizal, Philippines on May 30, 2018:
Nothing beats a pro, like you, Audrey! I've been away from Hubpages for quite some time (Now it is called "Spinditty"?) but your hubs still never fail to amaze me. To date, this is the most comprehensive beginner's tutorial a singer-wannabe would ever want to learn. Thank you for always sharing your expertise. More power to you!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 24, 2018:
Wonderful! This was my intent while creating this article. Good to see you and if you need my help, just whistle.
Frances Metcalfe from The Limousin, France on April 24, 2018:
I was always rubbish at singing, so I thought, my range is very narrow, bottom G to just about B above middle C (on a good day). My singing teacher at college gave up with me and told me to just bring along my violin instead and we'd play duets. But now I sing a lot around the house and it comes out quite clear instead off breathy.
I'll never be Victoria de los Angeles but hey, as long as it gives me pleasure, that's the main thing.
But tis is a great article to refer to when I do get sick of hearing my own voice and want to make it better.
agusfanani from Indonesia on April 18, 2018:
I'm more enthusiastic in learning how to sing after reading your tutorial. Thank you Audrey.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 08, 2018:
Actually, my friend, your voice does like you...but you will only realize this when you free your authentic sound. If you want some help...here I am. Just let me know. Meanwhile, just sing and hum.
Thanks so much.
My favorite voice of all time is Frank Sinatra. I wrote 3 hubs about this incredible voice. I'm thrilled that you're singing. A good, easy, exercise is to simply say a word like "day" and sustain the last letter of the word "y" as long as you can, until you run out of breath.
I'm here, if you need my help.
How wonderful that your grandson is a vocal coach and teacher therapist! Chipper will always love your singing!
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 07, 2018:
Audrey, I love to sing and one thing I will never forget was singing along with one of my favorite songs and the amazed look on my grandson's face. He is now a vocal coach and music teacher therapist. Thank you for the exercises.
I sing to Chipper (my dog) and he loves it.
Blessings my friend
DDE on April 01, 2018:
I do sing along when I hear my favorite songs. I am sure singing sounds better when one has a voice and tune for that. Interesting insight here. My best to you!!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 29, 2018:
ChitrangadaThank you, my dear friend, for being here and leaving your kind words. I always smile when I "see" you. Blessings to you and yours.
Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 27, 2018:
Audrey I love to sing and listen to Frank Sinatra swing songs and always afraid to have folks listen so I do it in my head.. You say you can talk then you can sing.. I'm gonna give it a go.. thank you for sharing your talents Frank
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 25, 2018:
I love hearing that you enjoy singing and I can actually picture you singing to your daughter when she was an infant. How you made up songs, stretching your imagination, is giving birth to your creative side.
Thank you, my friend. My best to you.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 25, 2018:
I really appreciate encouraging comments like this from such a fine writer as yourself. Thank you and enjoy your day.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 18, 2018:
Oh, how I appreciate your comments. I agree, there is music in all of us.If only this message could reach every single human being, what a better world this would be.
Thank you dear friend for your kind support. Hugs,
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on March 18, 2018:
I love singing but singing doesn't seem to like me that much. :) So, thank you for this wonderful article, which I am certainly bookmarking.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 17, 2018:
Singing is easy, once all doubt is removed. It's a matter of self-discovery. Locate your singing tools and work on each one until mastered. Practice is crucial. How long should we practice each tool? Until using the tool becomes automatic.
Patience and perserverance are the key. Thank you for your comments.
So glad to hear that your daughter is singing. Always tell her how much you enjoy hearing her lovely voice. This will instill total confidence in her and she will continue to love her own sound as she grows and develops.
Thank you for your comments.
Your kind and beautiful comments always reflect the precious, supportive person you are. How I love and respect you. Thank you for boosting my own confidence.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 16, 2018:
I love hearing personal experiences about singing and yours is one that is so great! Your younger daughter has a gift. Sounds like she has shared her beautiful voice with so many others Thanks so much for sharing this, Pop.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 16, 2018:
An excellent guide to aspiring singers, and as always a very helpful article about singing!
It’s so important to take care of your voice, and you provide some very interesting information through your articles.
Enjoyed reading this and the wonderful video!
Thanks for sharing!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 15, 2018:
If I could only live another thousand years...maybe then I'd have time to "teach the world to sing." Appreciate your visit and kind words. Take good care, my friend.
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 14, 2018:
I enjoy singing and learned to do so when my daughter was an inconsolable infant. It was just her and me so I sang every song I knew, made up new ones, and found the singing voice that had been hiding. I love your positivity and encouragement.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 14, 2018:
Thanks for asking about the book. Do most first-time writers find themselves in the same dilema...never satisfied with their content? I realize that my situation is somewhat different as it's instruction/motivational. I re-write, read and rewrite again. Maybe this would be something for the mail bag. :)
Thank you, dear Bill,
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 13, 2018:
This is very inspirational, Audrey. Thank you for sharing all the tips. Your article is a great reference for people who want to start singing.
Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 13, 2018:
You have provided wonderful, inspirational and sage advice on how to use the instrument we were born with, but too often ignore. There is music in us all; it is a reaffirmation of life. I wonder what the world would be like if we all sang more often? Or just hummed more often. Beautifully written, Audrey -- thank you.
Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 13, 2018:
I'm convinced you are the most inspirational and supportive musical mentor, dear Audrey.
Thank you for so freely sharing your gifts with us. Love you, Maria
Nikki Khan from London on March 13, 2018:
Amazing hub Audrey, perfectly tells how you can sing and how to polish your singing.Loved reading it.
My daughter loves singing and she sings in school essembly.
Can use the tools to enhance her singing.
Thanks for sharing.
CaribTales on March 12, 2018:
Audrey, you make it sound so easy. Anyway, I'm sure that following your suggestions will help. You're motivating and convincing and I'm taking you seriously. Thanks!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 12, 2018:
You were ill for a long time and it will take even longer to regain your singing voice. Give it time - it will return. Meanwhile, avoid speaking as much as possible (I know this is a hard one). Your vocal bands need plenty of rest. Absolutely do not whisper. This is very hard on your vocal folds (bands.)
Keeping your throat super-hydrated is crucial. Avoid any medications that are drying to your mouth including anti-histamines.
Hum. You can hum all you want. Bone up on diaphragmatic breathing and only breathe this way...even for speaking. Very, very important!
You'll be warbling by spring. :)
Nell Rose from England on March 12, 2018:
I could sing up until a few weeks ago when I had flu and bronchitis, even though i am better now, the voice (singing voice) has gone! shame because I love a good warble! lol!
breakfastpop on March 12, 2018:
I have been singing since I was a kid. Both of my children sing, and they are much better than I ever was. My younger daughter sang with Billy Joel, and sang the National Anthem for the Jets, the Mets, and just about every other team you can mention. Singing is a precious gift.
mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on March 12, 2018:
Hi Audrey - You are such an optimist. La la la la la la. You are also an expert in your field.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 12, 2018:
I love your positive attitude....it is infectious. How's the book coming along,dear friend?