How to Start Teaching Yourself Between Lessons

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Having a clear understanding of your voice and how to alter your tone (safely) is an invaluable skill - one all singers should be keen to master. Your teacher will always be able to pick up on issues and alterations quicker, but how their changes affect the colour of your voice is something you want to tap into.

The more you hone in on the different aspects of the tone of your voice, the more you can start to play around with a multitude of sounds. Our voices are capable of creating thousands of sounds and we should be able to pick and choose depending on things like the song, venue, genre, audience and our health/energy levels.

Unfortunately we don't tend to spend enough time really listening to our own voices and picking up on what we'd like to change or work on.



The first piece of this puzzle is to really start to listen to yourself. I know this can be quite confronting for some singers (especially if you're not all that confident yet) but it's important to know where you're starting from.

Many teachers suggest that recording yourself is the way to go, but I think tweaking your technique in the present moment is much better if you can master it (and you don't get only the elements of your sound that the recording device picks up on).

If you want to REALLY listening to yourself, you can cup your hands behind your ears with your elbows out in front of your body. This gives you the best idea of your true sound, resonance and all.




Start with the elements that are more obvious to your ear. Pitch or tuning is one that many students find easy to pick up on. Are you in tune the whole way through your song? Other things that tend to stand out are breathiness, cracking, breaking and strain.    

Once you're able to hear some of the bigger vocal issues when they present themselves, it's time to dig a little deeper. Is your tone consistent? Are there parts of the song that sound thinner, stronger, duller or brighter?



If I ask my students this question, most of them shrug and say "What do you think?"

There isn't simply one way for you to sing. Your teacher isn't there to craft a style for you (although they can help you figure this out) - this comes from within you. What songs do you love to sing? What kind of tone sends shivers down your spine?

If you're not sure, listen to your favourite artists and start to note down words you'd use to describe their voice. You never want to strictly imitate but you can start to play around with characteristics that you hear in your favourite singers.



Now that you have an idea of what some of the attributes are of the voices you enjoy - where is yours at now? You should aim to analyse your own voice at least once in every practise session.

I've written a list of words/characteristics to help you start to do this for yourself. Ask yourself if you'd like to add more of one, subtract some of another.

  • breathy

  • husky

  • strong

  • thin

  • full

  • dull

  • bright

  • throaty

  • consistent

  • loud

  • soft

  • resonant

  • controlled

  • nasal

  • swallowed

  • smooth

  • shaky

  • clear

Imagine walking into each and every singing lesson with your teacher knowing exactly what you need to work on!