2. Keep the faith and be patient
3. Know your limits
4. Join a choir, group or band
5. Be a student for life
6. Be healthy
7. Look after your voice
10. Fail but don’t give up
You must listen to your singing voice. Make friends with your voice and accept your voice as it is at this moment in time. A voice can be developed and trained but only if you know exactly what you are dealing with. Do not neglect to also listen to your speaking voice. Most people carry tonal qualities from their speaking voice into their singing voice. One thing that will happen when you listen to your voice is that you will find your own style and sound. Usually a talented singer can be identified by their unique sound. In short, they usually sound like themselves.
Listen to other singers and ask yourself what you like about their voice. Listen to music and singers that you are not familiar with. Appreciate the vast array of voices that are out there. Listening to yourself and others will develop your ear and make you a better singer. You would not attempt to paint a picture with your eyes closed and you should not attempt to sing without first listening to your own and many other voices.
Listen to praise and accept it. Do not ever brush off praise. Listen to what people have to say and take it in and accept it. The same can be said of negative comment. As long as it is constructive it helps to listen. If you know in your heart that the negative comment is unfounded then brush it aside and move on with your journey. Often there is an element of truth to any comment but sometimes people are simply negative.
Keep the faith and be patient
Singing is not a skill that is natural. It is a skill that is earned through the art of practise. Some singers do not realise that they have been practising from the day they were born. Often these people are encouraged to sing and are not ridiculed. It is not uncommon to hear a talented singer speak about how they grew up surrounded by music. They sang in a choir and played in a band. The radio was always on etc. It is not a coincidence that these people are attuned to their instrument and know how to use it. They have been listening, researching and practicing their whole lives. You can start this journey now but it is lifelong which is why you must remain patient.
Do not measure yourself against your peers. You are an individual. You must learn at your own pace. It could take years to create a tonal quality that you find pleasing but if you put the work in it can happen. You must learn at your own level and pace. Often when people sound effortless there is a reason and that reason is practise.
Know your limits
Where are you now? what is your level? where do you want to go?
You may find that on your journey to becoming a better singer that you face disappointment because your voice does not perform the way you want it to. Wanting to sing extremely high and being able to sing extremely high are two very different things. You must accept that your voice will have its limitations. Over time you will come to know how high and how low your voice can go. Find your range and then embrace it. Sing styles that suit your voice, range and personality. Getting lessons can help you to find and train your range.
Join a choir, group or band
I always tell students to go out and join a group. Generally I will always push people to join a choir. The great thing about joining a good choir is that you are forced to learn styles and songs that you would never choose yourself and this is great. When you sing in a choir something amazing happens. You are often able to sing out in a way that is difficult alone. There is great power in numbers especially when it comes to singing. You really get to stretch your voice. A weekly rehearsal is the best of all practices.
Perform at every opportunity. When a concert comes up sign up. If there is a solo then audition. You might not get it but every time you try and fail ask why and aim to get some constructive feedback.
I have met and I have taught countless singers with beautiful voices many of whom have failed to learn how to be a performer. A fantastic voice is never enough. You must practise being a performer.
Be a student for life
Every truly amazing singer I have met is still learning. They still practise. They go to workshops. They learn new songs and they still have lessons. I still have lessons. I will never finish learning. If you take the mindset that you are going to be a student of life you will continue to surprise yourself and grow.
In order to become a better singer you must take care of your health. Eat as clean as you can. By eating clean I mean try to limit or rid yourself all together of processed foods. I would go as far to say all meat and dairy but this is not for everyone. Drink plenty of water. Do not smoke. Limit or avoid alcohol.
If you are planning on singing for life (as you should) then you need to be fit and healthy. I would recommend Pilates and Yoga as they improve both posture and flexibility. Also, do not underestimate the importance of aerobic exercise. Singing is an aerobic activity that needs a good level of stamina.
I like to include the mind when I talk about staying healthy. Maintaining a strong positive attitude is vital when choosing to be a singer. Read positive literature and self help books. Learn to be a better communicator. Learn to express good body language and build your mental and physical confidence.
Look after your voice - Take Responsibility for your vocal health
Make sure that you are hydrated. Do not leave any vocal related illnesses too long before seeking medical advice. If your cough lingers go to the doctor. If your voice continuously breaks or feels sore after or during singing then visit a doctor.
Find yourself a good singing teacher preferably on recommendation. Remember that it is not your singing teachers responsibility to look after your voice. They cannot see your vocal folds and neither can you. If you are ever truly concerned then book to see an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) specialist.
Research different singing techniques and talk to other singers about what works for them.Personally I do not subscribe to one technique but prefer to learn aspects of a variety and then cherry pick the elements that work for my voice. Learn about the physiology of the voice. Understand how your vocal folds work, vibrate and create your singing voice. Learn how to create different vocal qualities.
Practise can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The basic level for me is to sing at all opportunities - in the show, the car, the kitchen etc. Always listen to music and sing along. Make sure you listen to a chart and try out new and emerging styles even if you don’t particularly like them. Find a teacher, join a choir, take a workshop, talk to other singers or even buy a book! Buy all the practice CDs find the tracks that are hard and nail them. Why are they hard. What does your voice need to do? Can you do it? Do you need to change your tone? You must have goals. You must plan what, why and when you will practise and for how long.
Fail but don’t give up
Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail big and fail hard. Go for it. Don’t wait. Sing the wrong note and learn the right one. So many people give up at the first hurdle. It is the singers who are in for the long haul who succeed. Embrace the challenge. Every failure is an opportunity to learn. Every step takes you closer to the voice that you want. Don’t be afraid be bold. As Susan Jeffers would say Feel the Fear and do it anyway!