How to Start Singing - A Beginner's Guide to Vocal Mastery

Singing Learning Sheet Music Recording

Do you have a fear of karaoke or dread the thought of singing in public?

Have you ever gazed in awe of a singer on stage and wondered how difficult it would be for you to do it?

While some people naturally pick up music quickly and effortlessly, becoming a proficient singer is something that can be taught as well. Learning how to start singing isn't just about hitting the right notes. It's about understanding how your voice works, and learning how to adjust your pitch and making your tone sound nice. This might sound hard at first, but don't let it scare you. With practice and a little guidance we'll provide in this article, developing a great tone and pitch can become second nature. With enough practice and the right mindset, you might just find yourself rocking the stage at karaoke night!

But before you take your new found talents to the local club, let's make sure you understand a few important singing terms.

Tone, Pitch, Intonation and Diction

These are the essential terms you need to understand when learning how to start singing. They are the building blocks that allow singers to communicate emotions effectively and convey the intended message of the lyrics. The mastery of these elements helps singers deliver a polished and engaging performance, capturing the attention of their audience. Answering the question 'Can Anyone Learn to Sing?' largely hinges on the individual's understanding and control of these elements. Without them a singer's performance may fall flat or fail to convey the intended message.

Sheet Music Violin Tone, Pitch, Intonation and Diction

What Is Tone in Singing?

Tone in singing refers to the sound quality, pitch, and strength of the voice. It's not just about hitting the right notes but also delivering them with a pleasing and expressive tone. Developing good tone requires proper breathing and vocal techniques (which we'll introduce you to below), as well as practice to improve the strength and clarity of the voice.

What Is Pitch in Singing?

Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of a musical note, which is determined by a sound wave's frequency. Often, when people say they can't sing, it's because they're struggling to match the pitch of the notes. However, sometimes a singer can hit the right notes and pitch but still feel unhappy with the overall sound of their voice. This could be a problem with intonation or dictation.

What Is Intonation in Singing?

Vocal intonation is the rise and fall of pitch while singing. It's what gives meaning and emotion to lyrics or melodies. It's how we express ourselves and convey meaning beyond the literal interpretation of the words we sing.

What Is Diction in Singing?

Diction in singing is the clarity and accuracy of how a singer pronounces the words of a song. It's about enunciating each syllable of every word clearly so that the lyrics are easily understood by the audience. Good diction enhances the emotional impact of the performance and requires attention to vocal technique and breath control.

Generally, if people say they cannot sing, they mean that they cannot match the tone. In some cases, the problem lies in matching the pitch, although in others, the singer can hit the note, but may not like other aspects of their voice.

As you talk to someone, you naturally modify your voice to accentuate your words. This speech rhythm, known as intonation, is how we detect emotions like anger or excitement in others. Singing, in essence, is a form of this, where your voice aligns with a melody. So, in a beginner's quest to learn how to start singing, they're often wondering if they can learn to adapt their vocal tone to create a desired sound. Understanding and mastering this is a crucial step towards becoming an effective singer.

Debunking Common Singing Myths

Singing is often clouded with misconceptions that discourage people from discovering their vocal potential. For instance, many believe that tone-deafness or a lack of a "good ear" will render them unable to sing. However, the reality is quite different.

Amusia Tone-Deaf Hearing Tests

Tone-deafness, medically known as amusia, does exist and can make singing challenging. However, it's less common than people assume - affecting only about 1 in 25 individuals, with varying degrees of severity. If you're not among this small group, there's absolutely no reason why you can't learn to sing with some dedication, practice, and patience.

Another common myth is the necessity of having a good ear for singing. While it can be beneficial, it's not an absolute requirement. Singing is a learned skill that hinges on muscle memory, breath control, and vocal technique more than inherent talent. Even those without a natural knack for matching pitch can cultivate their singing abilities through structured training and regular practice, ultimately growing into proficient singers. So, it's time to dispel these myths and embrace the truth - anyone with the will and enthusiasm can learn to sing.

A Beginners Guide to Singing

Now that we've introduced the basics about how to start singing and debunked the common singing myths, the next step is learning how to hit a note. If you discover that you're not tone-deaf (and as we've just explained, chances are you're not), then you're ready to progress on your singing journey. The fact that you can distinguish pitch means that your brain already knows how your voice should sound. All that is needed is to practice this skill.

Singing Learning Sheet Music Recording

The classic approach is to find a voice tutor in your area who can guide you, and help you learn at the correct pace. A tutor remains a great option, although nowadays, other choices do exist, with online lessons, and self-guided apps all available to help you on your way. If you'd like help finding a personal tutor or recommendations of online resources, click here to contact us. We'd love to help.

However, while these allow you to work on your pitch, they will not be able to help you with other aspects of your voice. You will also need to learn how to improve your tone.

Vocal Tone Exercises

Without a doubt, the most successful way to improve your tone is through a vocal coach. They can guide you on the techniques you need to change your posture and breathing to alter the sound your vocal cords produce without straining your voice. However, this isn't for everybody, and it will depend on how serious you are about your singing. There are plenty of online courses and YouTube videos that can help you on your way, but these may take a bit more experimentation to find what suits you.

Daily Vocal Tone Exercises by Jacob Vocal Academy

While learning to sing is not possible for everybody, those who do not suffer from amusia should be able to sing the correct pitch with enough practice. You may not be able to learn to hit vocal ranges like Christina Aguilera, but chances are you can probably learn to hold your own at karaoke night, or at least be capable of holding down backup vocals.

A suitable tone is whatever you want it to be, but once you can sing the right note, it is something you can work on until you reach the sound you want. All it takes is a little practice.

Breathing Exercises for Singing

Imagine your vocal cords are like a musical instrument. You wouldn't just start playing a guitar or piano without learning how to hold and use it properly, right? The same goes for your voice. Form and breathing exercises are like your warm-up before a concert - they get your vocal cords ready to hit all the right notes. Just like how a runner stretches before a race, singers need to stretch their lungs and diaphragm to get the most out of their performance. By doing these exercises regularly, you'll not only improve your singing ability, but also prevent potential injuries to your vocal cords.

Breathing Workout For Singers by Jacob Vocal Academy

Articulation Exercises for Singers

When we sing, we use more than just our vocal cords. We rely on a whole set of muscles, including those responsible for articulation, to create sound. Articulation exercises help singers develop precision and clarity in their pronunciation, which can make all the difference in conveying the emotion and meaning of a song. They also help singers develop control over their breath and voice, leading to greater overall vocal health and longevity. With the right articulation exercises, you can transform your singing from a good performance to a truly memorable one.

Daily Articulation Vocal Exercises by Jacob Vocal Academy

Vocal Straw Exercise

The vocal straw exercise is like taking your voice to the gym! By singing through a straw, you can improve your vocal range, power, and overall control. It helps to relax your vocal muscles and improves your breath support, resulting in a clearer and more resonant voice.

Increase Range And Power (With a Straw) by Jacob Vocal Academy

Lip Trill Exercise

The lip trill exercise, also known as the "motorboat" exercise, is a fun and effective way to warm up your voice before singing. It involves blowing air through your lips while making a "brrr" sound, creating a vibration that helps relax and limber up your vocal cords. It's like giving your voice a massage before the performance, making sure you're ready to hit those high notes with ease.

Lip Roll Exercise by Jacob Vocal Academy

Vocal Resonance Exercises

Vocal resonance exercises help to improve the quality and clarity of your voice by increasing your ability to resonate sound in your vocal tract. These exercises help to train your vocal muscles to resonate in the most efficient way possible, allowing you to produce a clear, rich, and powerful sound. By practicing vocal resonance exercises, you'll learn how to start singing by using your breath and voice together in a way that will help you reach your full potential as a singer.

Resonance (slides) - Vocal Exercise by Jacob Vocal Academy

Relax your vocal cords

Take a few deep breaths and gently exhale to release any tension. Then, hum gently to warm up your voice and gradually increase your volume. Practice your scales and exercises mentioned above, and aim to keep your throat and jaw relaxed throughout the exercise. Avoid pushing or straining your voice, and take breaks if you feel any discomfort.

Learn Basic Music Theory for Singers

Learning basic music theory can greatly enhance a new singer's ability to understand and interpret music. It helps to develop a deeper understanding of the structure of music, which makes it easier to pick up new songs and melodies, and to sing them with accuracy and confidence. Understanding concepts such as rhythm, melody, harmony, and key signatures, can also help a singer to better communicate with other musicians, and to appreciate the complexity and beauty of music on a deeper level. Even just a basic understanding of music theory can take a singer's skills to the next level and give them a foundation for continued growth and learning.

Practice Good Posture for Singing

Good posture is crucial for singers as it allows for better breathing and proper support for the voice. Poor posture can cause tension in the neck, shoulders, and back, which can affect the sound of the voice. Practicing good posture for singing can also improve confidence on stage and prevent fatigue and strain on the voice. By maintaining an open, upright position and engaging the core muscles, singers can achieve a more powerful and resonant sound.

Take Singing Lessons

Taking singing lessons is a great way to help make that  singing dream become a reality. Singing lessons are designed to help students of all levels improve their singing abilities, from beginners who want to learn the basics to experienced singers looking to refine their skills. The great news is that there are various types of singing lessons to choose from.

One option is private lessons, which provide one-on-one attention from a vocal coach, allowing for personalized instruction and feedback. If you are someone who prefers to learn at their own pace, online lessons offer a convenient and flexible way to learn from home. For those who enjoy a structured learning environment, music academies offer group lessons and performance opportunities.

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Coogee Public School Singing Group: 1947

Regardless of which type of lesson you choose, the benefits of taking singing lessons are numerous. You will learn proper breathing and vocal techniques, develop your ear for music, and gain confidence in your singing abilities. Whether you are interested in singing opera, pop, or rock, a vocal coach can help you achieve your goals and work on the specific genres and styles of music that interest you.

Beyond the technical aspects of singing, lessons can also help with stage presence, performance anxiety, and emotional expression. Singing is not just about hitting the right notes, but also about conveying emotion and connecting with your audience. A vocal coach can help you develop your unique style and bring out the best in your voice, making taking singing lessons a valuable investment in yourself as a musician and performer.

Join a Choir or Singing Group

Joining a singing group is a great way for new singers to improve their skills, meet new people, and gain performance experience. Being part of a group provides a supportive environment where singers can learn from one another and grow together. Whether you are interested in classical choral music, gospel, pop, or musical theater, there are many types of singing groups available to suit your interests.

Traditional choirs are popular options, which often performs classical pieces, religious music, or a combination of both. These groups usually have a conductor and perform in concerts or other events. Another option is to join a community choir, which may be more relaxed in terms of requirements and repertoire. These groups may perform a wider range of music and may not require an audition to join.

Scripture Pasture Christian Center Choir, Ibadan Nigeria
Scripture Pasture Christian Center Choir, Ibadan Nigeria

For those interested in popular music, there are also options such as a cappella groups or vocal ensembles. These groups usually focus on modern music and often perform in a more casual setting such as a coffeehouse or bar. Additionally, musical theater enthusiasts can join a choir that focuses on performing songs from Broadway shows.

Regardless of the type of singing group, joining a choir can provide a wealth of benefits for new singers. It provides an opportunity to improve vocal technique, work on harmonizing with others, and develop stage presence. Singing with others can also boost confidence and provide a sense of community. So whether you are a beginner or an experienced singer, joining a choir or singing group is a great way to grow as a musician and connect with others who share your passion for singing.

Final Thoughts

Aside from a small segment of the population with severe amusia, anyone can learn to sing. Congratulations on taking the first step towards learning how! Whether you're a beginner or an experienced singer, the information, techniques and exercises mentioned in this article will help you improve your skills and reach your full potential. From basic vocal exercises to advanced music theory, there are endless opportunities to learn and grow as a singer.

Review it again whenever you need to make sure you understand the basics of tone, pitch, intonation, and diction. Practice good posture and breathing techniques, and don't forget the importance of relaxation and articulation exercises. Vocal resonance exercises can help you produce a fuller, richer sound, while combined with the other exercises here can improve your ear for music overtime.

And don't forget the value of taking singing lessons, whether they are online, private, or through a music academy. A vocal coach can help you fine-tune your technique, build confidence, and develop your unique style. Joining a choir or singing group can also provide valuable opportunities to perform and connect with other musicians.

Learning to sing is a journey! Don't be discouraged by mistakes or setbacks, but instead, use them as opportunities to learn and grow. With patience, practice, and dedication, you can become the singer you've always dreamed of being! 

... Or at least not be so terrified of karaoke night.

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I didn't expect to find all of these exercises in oneplace. This is great! Thanks for compiling it.

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