How to Sing in 10 Steps

A Singing Checklist

Learning to sing well takes time and effort. If you want a quick guide on how to sing, then you found the right place. The more you apply these steps, the better you will become.

01
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Photo © Katrina Schmidt

Singing with good posture improves your sound and most people naturally have better posture when standing. Just align your knees, hips, shoulders, and ears into a straight line. Avoid tension while standing straight by moving. Pacing back and forth works in a practice room, but in performance stay flexible with small movements like shifting your weight occasionally and possibly taking a step or two.

02
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Image courtesy of RelaxingMusic via flickr cc license

If you do not, you die both literally and vocally! Plan your breaths and take the most relaxing, low breaths you know how. Breathing with the diaphragm is best, but takes time to learn and if you perform tomorrow then worry about it later. Otherwise, lie on your back and notice your stomach going up and down. Stand up and try to breathe in a similar fashion.

03
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Image courtesy of 1950sUnlimited via flickr cc license

Shout out your words in an elevated, projected fashion and then imitate your speech when you sing. Shouting helps you “support your sound,” which means you are learning to balance your inhalation and exhalation muscles.

04
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Photo © Katrina Schmidt

You need air to sing, so conserve it. Not only will you be able to sing longer phrases, but your voice will sound better. It seems counterintuitive, but if you use too much air at once you will sound forced and out of control.

05
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Relax your lips and open up. There is no legitimate rule about being able to stick three fingers side-by-side into your mouth while you sing, but your mouth does need to be open in order to sing beautifully. Place a hand on your jaw joint and make sure you open the jaw down rather than forward in order to create space in the back of the mouth as well as the front.

06
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Picture Your Mouth as a Small House

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The top of your mouth is a high and arched ceiling. The tongue is a rug that lies flat against the floor except when enunciating. The back of your mouth is a door and should be wide open when singing. Some say to imagine an egg in the back of your throat in order to get the feeling of a high arched ceiling and open back door. The space you create inside your mouth allows for good resonance.

07
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Image courtesy of Arkansas ShutterBug via flickr cc license

Imagine where a Mardi Gras or superhero mask is located. Direct your sound where it would touch below the eyes, on the nose and cheek areas. Air should not literally come through your nose, but most people feel vibrations in their mask area when they project their voice.

08
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Image courtesy of shoe the Linux Librarian via flickr cc license
What makes singing unique from other music is the use of words, so making songs understandable is paramount. Put consonants before the beat, placing your vowel directly on the beat. Stay on the vowel as long as possible, but consciously spit out ending consonants. Energizing leading consonants also helps you engage the breathing muscles needed to support your voice and enunciating correctly keeps you in time with the music.

09
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Image courtesy of Center for American Progress via flickr cc license
There are certainly exceptions, but most of the time when you are emotional about what you are singing you will be able to physically sing better. You should still learn all the technical aspects of vocalizing, but when performing focus on expression.

10
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Record Yourself

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Image courtesy of The Library of Congress via flickr cc license

With the advent of the iPad and other electronic devices, recording yourself should be a breeze. When you sing you hear yourself from within, which means you do not have an accurate idea of how your voice sounds to others. Listening to your recorded voice may make you uncomfortable, but you can hear what you really sound like. Just be aware you are probably more critical of yourself, especially the first time you hear yourself sing.