Being a great singer also means being a great musician. Great musicians care for their instrument. They practice, improve, challenge themselves, and never see a finish line.
In my experience as a vocal coach and worship leader, I’ve found that a lot of singers tend to overlook simple yet fundamental techniques.
But by being aware of these common stumbling blocks, you can greatly improve your voice. So here are my 5 practical singing tips!
Now this may seem like an obvious one, but it is so much more crucial than most people know! Most singing problems, from pitch to timbre (your vocal color or tone), can be fixed with proper breath support. It’s the first thing I teach all my students.
Proper breath support requires a much deeper breath from your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is basically the muscle lining below your lungs that powers your breath.
Quick Exercise: To find your diaphragm, take a balloon and exhale to fill it up. Where you feel that tightness in your abs is your diaphragm working! Power from here.
Breathing from your diaphragm means focusing your breath to fill up bottom to top, not top to bottom. To make sure you are breathing correctly try these exercises:
1. Place your hand on your stomach and breath in. Did your stomach move out or did your shoulders move up? If you felt your stomach move out, great! But if your shoulders are moving up, this is a sign that you aren’t getting a deep enough breath.
2. Stand up and face a wall with your nose touching the wall. Now breath in and try to push your body off the wall by directing your breath to your diaphragm. Your stomach should come out enough to push you off the wall.
Another mistake singers make, is taking just enough of a breath to get them through the next phrase. That’d be like filling up your gas tank just enough for a round trip to Chic-Fil-A. It’s bad for your car and it’s bad for your voice!
Always breathe in more than enough air to sing through your phrases with some air left over. This takes time and practice to get quick and powerful breaths, but will make all the difference in your singing.
#2 Warm Ups
As worship singers, often times we have to wake up so early for sound check. This makes proper warm ups all the more important!
Later in the day, your voice is more naturally warmed up, but early in the morning, you need to take it SLOW and ease your voice into the day.
Here are 4 of my favorite early morning warm ups (in order)
- Humming – It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s the best first warm up you can do. Start by sliding your voice up and down smaller intervals and gradually to larger intervals. I usually do this while I’m getting ready or in the shower.
2. Lip Trills – After humming, take it to the next level with some trills. Lip trills are amazing because they not only warm up your voice, but they also help relieve muscle tension in your jaw.
3. Talk! – Talking is how your voice naturally warms up every day! So it’s important to ease your voice in with what it’s best at.
4. Sing the songs you’re singing that day – Once you feel ready, start singing the songs in your set. Your vocal cords have muscle memory like any other part of your body and the more you sing a song, the more your body will adapt. (make sure to be consistent with the key of the song)
#3 Check Your Mix
Have you ever felt extremely vocal fatigued after singing a set, when at home you could sing for way longer?
Whether you are using wedges or in ears, having a good mix will make all the difference for you. Having a bad mix can cause you to over sing. This puts strain on your voice, resulting in loss of tone quality and vocal stamina.
Remember to be clear in your communication with your sound team so you can get it right from the start.
It’s different for everyone but I tend to like my mix to have mostly keys, click and bass with everything else mixed slightly beneath. That way I know I’m in key, on time, and can still feel the power.
#4 Choose the Right Key
One of the biggest mistakes and yet easiest fixes for singers is choosing the right key for your voice.
Now in worship, this gets a little trickier because you have a congregation singing with you mixed with hundreds of different voices and abilities.
What I’ve learned is that trying to adjust the key for the congregation will never actually make everyone happy. It will only make your job harder. The best thing to do, is find what key fits your voice best so that you can be confident in your leadership.
I’ve noticed a lot of incredible worship singers such as Amanda Cook (Bethel) and Taya Smith (Hillsong) who don’t exactly sing the easiest songs, but they stay true to their sound and lead with confidence because of it.
This doesn’t mean they don’t consider the needs of their church and band, but they don’t dumb down their voices and lower their musical standards to try to make everyone happy.
Taking the extra time to find where your voice sits best will only make you more confident in your leadership and benefit the whole sound of your team.
#5 Don’t just sing, WORSHIP!
Singing in any genre is far more emotional than technical.
You can practice technique all day long, but if you don’t know how to sing from your heart, you will never be able to fully captivate and lead your congregation.
I’ve always been more of a “thinker” than a “feeler” (according to Meyer Brigg’s,) so teaching myself to sing with emotion/show some vulnerability took some practice.
Always take the time to connect with your song. Know the lyrics and message you are trying to convey. Find ways to relate it back to our own life and remember all the circumstances God has brought you through.
Lastly, worship alone with your set before leading your church. If you can’t lead yourself in worship, how do you expect for others to follow.
I hope this has helped! If you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, please let us know in the comments!
You may also be interested in these posts as well:
- We Answer Your Worship Leading Questions! [Video]
- How to Get Better Worship Vocals
- 3 Ways the Enemy Attacks Worship Leaders: And What You Can Do About It
- 4 Reasons Why Your Band Should Stop Practicing and Start Rehearsing
- How to Mix In Ear Monitors Like a Pro Part 2