Last Updated: July 2019
Want to learn how to sing better?
In this guide you’ll learn exactly how to improve your singing voice – from breathing and prep to techniques and practice – so you can become a better singer fast.
PLUS, we’ll give you free vocal exercises and a daily practice plan at the end!
If you follow this guide you’ll have:
We’ll go over some important fundamentals, share dope vocal exercises and get into advanced tips that will take your singing voice to the next level.
At the end of the guide, we’ll give you an entire practice plan (with singing exercises) for FREE that you can use to become a better vocalist quickly.
Whether you think you already have a decent voice or not, the good news is you can become a better singer. If you put in the work…
Special Note: If you want to fast track your learning and improvement, we recommend looking at online singing lessons. We have a couple of personal favorites – check out our HearAndPlay Vocal Mastery Review and our 30 Day Singer Review. They’re your best bet at a better voice quickly.
Bottom Line – the voice you’re “born with” is not the voice you’re stuck with.
You can make it better. And we can help.
Let’s be real – singing like a star isn’t an easy task. There’s so many areas to focus on like:
That’s a lot of shit to worry about…
But you don’t have to worry because the information and exercises below will help you improve on all those areas.
Want to REALLY Sing Better QUICKLY?
The 30 Day Singer program is one of the BEST training for singers out today that will improve your voice faster than ever!
If you’re really serious about becoming an elite singer, you need a structured, guided approach to vocal improvement (and consistent work/practice).
You’re probably thinking, “so you mean I need a vocal coach?”
Yes, and no…
Vocal coaches are damn expensive. And they’ll only meet you a few times a month.
What we’re talking about is Online Singing Lessons (like HearAndPlay's Vocal Mastery Program).
They’re super affordable, available anytime, anywhere and take you by the hand, step-by-step to exactly where you want to go.
Free videos on YouTube (and even free guides like this one) – as helpful as they are – just don’t cut it or even come close to what you get from structured training by an expert.
They leave you frustrated without the ability to ask questions and get quick answers. They also don’t tell you where to go NEXT, which is important in consistently getting better.
And since they’re free, you know you’re not getting their best advice/techniques. Proper singing lessons are your best choice.
In this section, we’re going to go over important things that will speed up your progress in singing better.
These may seem unimportant, but don’t neglect them. They go a long way in improving your voice.
First off, drink lots of water to stay hydrated and avoid drying out your throat.
That means before you’re singing but also when you’re just going about your regular day.
Cold water may feel great going down, but drinking your water at room temperature is much better for your voice and vocal chords.
Warm drinks like tea can also help a lot to sooth your throat, allowing you to produce better sound.
BUT stay away from things like coffee. Caffeine isn’t your friend in this case. Neither are sugary or carbonated drinks like soda/pop.
If you can’t cut them out altogether, definitely don’t drink anything cold/caffeinated/sugary/carbonated before you sing or even just practice singing.
Side Note: Smoking ain’t great for your voice or ability to breathe either. (Full Disclosure: I smoke, and kinda like the raspy quality it gives. But it WILL kill you early. Just sayin…)
You can’t sing better by just reading this guide or watching a singing lesson.
You have to commit yourself to DAILY practice without fail.
Be committed and consistent.
Ideally, you should be practicing 1 hour each day. But even 15-30 minutes every day is so much better than 2 hours once a week.
Real talk – this is the only way you’re going to get better.
What’s the best time to practice? Either right in the morning, or before you go to sleep.
Sometimes our self-consciousness can hinder us from explosive growth.
One of the BIGGEST roadblocks to success as a singer, is the fear of sounding bad and having people hear how “bad” you sound.
And when you’re practicing new skills, a lot of us tend to sound/look stupid until we master that skill.
Just remember, most great singers probably really sucked in the beginning.
But they practiced, and fought through the “screeching cat” phase to absolute greatness.
What’s more is even if they’re great now, when they’re practicing/training (yep, even the greats still practice/train daily) they still probably sound stupid!
A part of training your voice is making weird noises and funny facial expressions.
It’s just how it is. It’s how you get better!
So, if you can train your mind to not care about how you look/sound in the beginning, you will become great.
If you’re the type that doesn’t want to “embarrass themselves” in front of others, try finding a practice spot where no one else can hear you or see you.
It’ll help you get out of your comfort zone and out of your own head. You won’t be afraid to sound or look “stupid.”
If you can’t find a place you’re totally alone (roommates, parents/siblings, thin walled apartments) try your best to instill the thought that EVERYONE sounds bad when they’re practicing, that’s why they practice!
And anyone that might be “laughing” at you will be absolutely blown away by your progress and you can stick it in their face afterwards.
Success is the best revenge.
Bottom line – you want to be ok with belting out loud notes, making funny noises/sounds and getting kinda weird.
In this section, we’re going to go over the absolute fundamentals that you need to master before diving into the vocal exercises.
Get this stuff right, and you’ve already won half the battle.
Skip over this, and you’re just hurting yourself and your ability to improve.
Knowing your vocal range is important. In this guide we show you a way of extending your vocal range, so knowing where it’s at now will come in handy.
Your vocal range is the number of notes you’re naturally able to hit with your voice type.
There are a bunch of different voice types, and you likely fall into one or two of these types:
We’ll have an entire article on how to find your vocal range soon that goes deep into this.
But here’s a quick primer on what to do:
This is your general vocal range – the span of notes your voice naturally fits in.
Later in this guide, we’ll show you how to extend it.
Interested in seeing where your favorite singer’s vocal range site? Check out this dope ass tool.
Believe it or not, how you stand when you sing can have a huge effect on how you sound.
Here’s the proper posture to have every time you’re singing or practicing.
If you’re trying to hit high notes, or project your voice more, don’t start lifting your chin.
Despite what you may think, keeping your chin down actually gives you more control and power. What’s more is tilting your chin upwards can actually cause issues with your vocal cords.
Think “down” when you want your voice to go “up.” Kinda like adding more weight to the higher notes you’re trying to hit.
If you find yourself wanting to get more power when singing, instead of moving your chin up, start to flex your pectoral (chest) muscles.
Finally, when you’re singing try and keep your larynx as steady as possible. Don’t let if lift up.
Here’s a trick to help you find your larynx muscles:
– Put your thumb under your chin right above your neck.
– Now swallow
Those are the muscles you’re trying to keep steady and not lifted. They should stay relaxed throughout your singing.
You don’t want to be gasping for air between notes. You also don’t want to run out of air when you’re trying to sustain a note.
Just remember this: breathing for singing and breathing for talking are two different things.
When singing, you want to get the maximum amount of sound out while using the minimum amount of air possible.
When you sing you want to breath from your diaphragm, not your chest.
The diaphragm is the muscle below your rib cage. When you breath from this area, your stomach should expand and contract.
When you’re singing up a scale (ascending) your diaphragm will push downwards. When you go down a scale (descending) it will release, or push back up.
Here’s a way to practice the feeling of proper breathing while singing:
While doing this, your abdomen should push out when you breathe in. But make sure you’re not moving your chest up or outwards while doing this.
When you breathe this way, your abs should feel almost like you’re doing a sit-up.
Here’s another way to get the feeling right:
When doing these exercises, try using a hissing sound when breathing out. Slowly let the air out until your stomach/abs flatten – don’t rush it.
Once you get the hang of it, try singing a note instead of using the hissing sound.
Keep doing the exercise over and over again, until it’s second-nature to you.
How important is breathing correctly during singing?
Well, if you do run out of breath, most people probably won’t even notice it consciously.
But you best believe they will feel it emotionally and the impact of your singing won’t be as strong or as deep.
Music is all about emotion. So, if you’re doing anything to lessen the emotional experience (like breathing wrong) your performance will suffer.
The same goes for how you use your mouth – especially when it comes to singing vowel sounds.
When you’re singing the sounds of A – E – I – O – U, you want to exaggerate your mouth movements.
Open up your vowels by keeping your jaw wide (not long, wide) when singing vowels.
Here’s how you can practice singing vowels correctly:
The idea is to re-train your muscle memory to sing vowels in that way, so you don’t have to think about it when you’re in the middle of singing a song.
Your lips may move into different shapes – that’s ok. But don’t close your jaw or your mouth when you do.
Once you can say the letters properly, try singing a musical phrase/lyric you know. When you get to the vowel sounds in that lyrics/phrase, keep your mouth and jaw wide open.
You want to practice this way of singing until it’s totally natural and becomes second-nature so you don’t even have to think about it.
Now that you know what to practice to get your voice to the starting line, let’s talk about some intermediate techniques for a better voice.
We’re going to get into the following areas of vocal training:
– Power & Projection
– Cracks & Breaks in the Voice
– Extending Your Vocal Range
– Hitting High Notes
– Transitions Between Vocal Registers
Contrary to what you might think, getting more power and projection out of your voice doesn’t come from increasing your volume or screaming out notes.
It comes from proper technique.
It’s actually pretty basic and we’ve already covered everything you need to do to get more power out of your singing voice.
If you do all these things, over time you’ll notice it’s easier for you to sing powerfully and project your voice more.
But hitting every note exactly is tough as hell, especially when you’re first starting out as a singer.
When you’re practicing singing, use a piano or other instrument to match note pitches.
If you don’t have access to a piano, just use a free “piano app” on your phone.
Hit a note on the app/piano (ex/ a C note) and try to match it with your voice as exactly as possible.
This is something you want to do daily across your entire vocal range.
Once you’ve practiced matching your voice to the piano, try using a guitar tuner app (or a real guitar tuner if you have one) to see how well you’re doing.
Basically, you want to:
The tuner should show you if you’re a little bit flat or a little bit sharp.
Try adjusting your vocal tone until you can get as close as possible to the perfect pitch of the note you’re trying to sing.
If you’re really serious about music, then you can take this a step further and memorize different notes’ tone and pitch.
This is where you’re basically training your ears to become familiar with what different notes are. So, if you hear a note played on a piano you can immediately recognize it and know “oh, that’s an A flat!”
It’s tough and takes time, but can help a lot in your music life.
For this you’ll want to use some computer software or a phone app.
Those cracks and breaks occur because you haven’t trained your voice registers correctly.
Your voice will usually do that when you’re trying to transition from one vocal register to another.
What’s a vocal register? It’s where you sing from.
You can sing from your head (head voice) or your chest (chest voice). You can also mix with a “mix voice” which combines head and chest voices.
Basically, if your vocal muscles are weak they can cause your voice to crack/break.
If not, see above.
Once you know your vocal range, you can try extending it so you’re able to hit notes even higher and lower than you can naturally.
Before you do this, though, make sure your vocal technique is on point (practice the basics!). You want to be sure your voice has proper resonance and you aren’t singing “airy” vowels.
To start extending your range do this:
Only practice those two new notes until you’re fully comfortable with singing them naturally, and your voice doesn’t crack, break or get airy/breathy.
Once you’ve mastered those two new notes, you can work your way up/down another half-step.
Take it slow and don’t rush.
Extending your vocal range is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s ok if it takes a long time to do.
And don’t push yourself too far outside of your normal vocal range too quickly. You may end up harming your vocal cords if you’re not careful.
That’s also why it’s a good idea to take online singing lessons to help with extending your vocal range. They’ve got great exercises and advice on how to do this properly.
She’s the type of singer that’s just naturally gifted with a super high range.
But you can still improve how well you hit high notes when singing.
But here’s the number one tip to hitting high notes: Don’t ever strain your vocal chords trying to hit high notes.
Hitting high notes when singing comes from developing good control over vocal registers (i.e. your chest voice, head voice and mix voice).
When you’re able to transition between those registers properly, it makes singing high notes so much easier.
In fact, despite what you may think you actually need less air to hit high notes, not more air.
Quick Tip: The next time you find yourself straining to hit a tone that’s all the way up there, try raising your eyebrows instead. It sounds stupid, but it works!
You can also try the “staccato exercise” from the video above.
As you know by now your voice is made up of 3 vocal registers – head voice, mixed/middle voice and chest voice.
Each of these areas represents where notes are sung from within your body.
Your voice will shift from one to the other to properly hit certain notes while you’re in the middle of singing.
Moving between these areas changes the resonance of your voice. Being able to control that change in resonance makes your voice sound so much better.
When you’re singing, and transitioning between low and high notes, it should feel like the notes are actually moving in your body towards your head or towards your chest.
Don’t try and keep all the notes in one area of your body – it’ll make it sound worse than it should sound.
The real key here is just to consistently practice and exercise your voice.
Be sure you warm-up and practice the vocal exercises we get into below EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Doing these once in a while won’t help you as much as doing them every day, like clockwork.
Now let’s get into some intermediate to advanced tips on improving the way you sing.
Before trying this stuff, make sure you’re already implementing the tips we’ve given you so far.
Vibrato is a technique that’s used to add some spice to a sung note/phrase. It’s essentially vibrating your voice to add effect.
The problem is, vibrato can be over-used. And that’s the sign of an amateur singer, not a pro.
So, let’s be clear on one thing – DO NOT USE TOO MUCH VIBRATO.
Especially if you sing pop music, rock or r&b.
The best way to use it effectively is to end your sung phrase with a straight tone, and only add a tiny bit of vibrato to the END of the note.
Try it out – sing “aaahhh” in a straight tone, and put vibrato on it at the very end before you stop singing the note.
Sounds dope, right?
A great vocal tone happens when you can sing it at a medium level of volume.
To get a good tone requires the right amount of air – your vocal folds have to be strong enough for good closure, without actually touching.
Too much air and you’ll sound “breathy.” Too little air and you’ll sound “nasal.”
Now there’s nothing wrong with sounding breathy or nasal – as long as it’s a stylistic choice, and not your natural singing tone.
Where you want to be, is in the middle of those two extremes.
The problem is that the way we hear our voices in our head is totally different than how others hear us. That’s why the first time you ever heard your voice recorded and played back to you, you probably cringed.
So, what’s the solution?
There’s a product called HearFones which can help you hear how you really sound. They’re great to train with and adjust your vocal tone as you’re singing.
If you’re trying to improve your vocal tone HearFones are a great, affordable tool to help you do that. You just put them on and start singing. You’ll hear how you sound accurately and can adjust your vocal tone as you sing.
Eventually the way you sing using the HearFones will become the way you sing naturally (muscle memory is a great thing).Check them out on Amazon.
Even if you do get a set of HearPhones, we highly recommend also recording yourself when you’re practicing or singing.
If you record all of your performances and practice sessions you can easily study the playback in-depth.
You’ll be able to quickly spot areas, phrases, notes and more you need to work on.
It’s a super helpful thing to do, and you don’t need any fancy equipment.
Of course, the better the quality of the recording, the more subtleties you’ll be able to hear, but you can use your phone or laptop too.
Just study your own singing to see areas that need improvement.
So how do you make sure it’s the best possible performance you can give?
Confidence is a huge part of the answer. And two of the best ways to be confident in your voice and ability is to:
Reading your lyrics from a sheet is ALWAYS a big no-no.
When you’re singing you want ALL of your energy/focus going to your vocal style/sound/tone/emotion.
If you’re preoccupied with trying to remember what words to sing, you can’t focus on your performance.
When you’re reading lyrics, your focus is on the words in front of you, not on how you’re singing.
That’s why knowing your song inside and out is crucial to a successful performance on stage or in the studio.
When you memorize every aspect of a song and internalize it (i.e. “you’ve done it a million times”) you’re not worried about the words, you’re totally focused on the delivery/performance.
And you’ll be more likely to let your raw emotion shine through.
If you read off a sheet when performing/recording a song because you don’t know the lyrics properly, you’re a clown. Plain and simple.
Full Disclosure: In the studio, I still keep the lyrics in front of me for reference. But the point is I ALWAYS have the lyrics basically memorized. The sheet is just there for reference and if I make lyrical adjustments on-the-fly.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of how to sing, it’s important to start working on your own unique style.
What separates an average singer from a great singer is a unique style.
But you can’t really develop your style if you’re still struggling with the fundamentals. That’s why this is an advanced area.
Developing a signature singing style really comes from confidence.
Building confidence as a singer comes from practicing the basics (above) until you’re on-point technically, and not worrying about whether you’re singing properly or you sound decent.
Once you know how to sing correctly (and sing well), it’s time to start listening to a LOT of your favorite singers.
Internalizing what you like about each of them and letting those characteristics shine through in your singing style helps you develop your own unique signature sound.
Ok… If you made it this far, you’re obviously serious about becoming a great singer.
That’s really dope. Most people just don’t care enough. Sure, they want it. But they ain’t willing to put in the work it takes.
You probably are. So here’s a FREE set of vocal exercises and a full plan of action you can use to improve your singing vocals starting today.
Just enter your name and email address below and you’ll get instant access to 4 important vocal exercises as well as a 6 week “action plan.”
We’ll also send it to your email so you’ve got it handy everywhere you go.
Great Job! You Unlocked This Amazing Content
We also sent it to your email address so you can download it to your laptop/phone/tablet. If you don’t see it in 5-10 minutes, double check your spam folder in case it’s caught there.
Time Commitment: 90 Minutes Every Single Day – 4-6 weeks of dedicated practice
Each day you’ll be doing a general set of drills/practices to help train your voice. Sing within your natural vocal range for this.
You’ll notice that only adds up to 75 minutes.
For the final 15 minutes of your daily practice routine, you should choose a focus area (from the right side of this page) you want to improve and work on it for an entire week. Then you can switch it up on the next week, or continue with it – it’s up to you.
For the final 15 minutes of your daily practice routine, you should choose a focus area you want to improve and work on it for an entire week. Then you can switch it up on the next week, or continue with it – it’s up to you.
Here are some areas to focus on for that last 15 minutes of your practice time:
Now, those last 15 minutes are pretty much the “funnest” part of practice, so feel free to go beyond 15 minutes if you’ve got the time/drive.
OK – now it’s time for the good stuff.
Below we have 4 great exercises that will help you improve your vocals and make you a better singer fast.
But before you start the exercises themselves, you should always do a warm-up
Warming your voice (and your body) up is essential to producing a beautiful vocal sound, and protecting your vocal chords.
Don’t neglect this. It’s like working out – if you don’t warm-up properly, you leave yourself open to injury.
First, stretch your mouth muscles.
Sounds weird, right? Do it anyway.
Imagine you’re yawning and try to make circles with your mouth muscles a bit. Open your mouth up wide and open it long, too (pause).
Next get blood flowing through your body. Jump around in place or do a couple of jumping jacks. Now stand up straight and stretch out your chest, neck and shoulders.
The idea is to not be stiff when you’re singing.
Start singing a song you know, but do it nonchalantly. Don’t try belting it out or hitting perfect notes or doing everything right.
Sing the song like you’re just singing to yourself while washing the dishes or something.
The purpose isn’t to “sound good.” It’s just to help warm up your vocal chords for the exercises below.
Next, we’re going to get into the actual vocal exercises.
But we’ve got to remind you – don’t slack here. Do these exercises daily – every single day.
You’ll be doing each of these exercises up and down whichever musical scale you choose (ex/ C Major scale, or Eb Minor Scale – learn more about scales in our music theory course.)
Also, make sure you’re switching up the scale and utilizing your entire vocal range.
Do your best to hit each note’s pitch as perfectly as possible. Don’t worry if you don’t get it, just keep working on so you get closer and closer.
It’s ok to go slow and repeat notes until your pitch is on-point.
And remember – don’t worry at all if you sound weird and look bad doing these exercises. That’s the point – you work out the kinks privately so you’re ready to perform publicly.
Sounding stupid on your own is the price you pay for a beautiful voice.
This exercise will help you practice keeping your larynx (the swallowing muscle) steady while you sing.
Remember to make sure you keep your throat muscles relaxed. If they tense up, stop, relax yourself and start again.
This is another exercise that will help you steady your larynx and is pretty much exactly like the MUM exercise.
For this exercise, you want to make sure you’re keeping your mouth completely closed when making the “mmmm” sound.
Again, you also want to make sure your throat stays relaxed. If you’re straining, stop and reset yourself.
Finally, if you need to you can exaggerate your facial movement and the sound if it helps.
This is another similar exercise to the two above, but you’re going to be using the sound you make when you’re thinking about something someone said – “hmmm”
In this exercise, you’re basically humming along with the scales. While humming, you should feel almost a buzzing around your nose, eyes, head (when in your head register) and in your chest (when you’re in your chest register).
This exercise can be tough to get going at first, but it’s a powerful one you should absolutely do.
It’s like the above exercises, but with a completely different sound and feeling. You’re going to be making a “brrrr” sound while your lips are flapping.
This can be tough to get right when you first try it. It may take some practice to get the sound right.
Here’s a pro-tip: using your fingers and thumb, push the corners of your mouth up and back slightly, towards you nose, while keeping your lips closed. This will help you make the correct sound from your lips
Doing the above singing exercise may seem trivial or not necessary. But trust us – they’re the exact type of exercises you need to be doing to get better at singing.
They will help strengthen your voice, keep your throat muscles relaxed and improve your pitch/tone for every song you plan on singing in the future.
Do them. Do them daily. Don’t slack.
If you follow the free singing practice routine and singing exercises we gave you above, it will definitely help improve your voice in a couple months’ time.
Do the exercises daily and follow the practice schedule to a T.
If you don’t have enough time for it every single day, you can shorten it, but try to maximize your practice time as much as possible.
Want to REALLY take your singing voice to the next level…? Read on…
Like we mentioned earlier in this guide – structured, guided and progressive singing lessons are the ABSOLUTE BEST way to go when you’re trying to improve your voice.
There’s just no denying that.
Vocal coaches are way too expensive. And sometimes a really good one is hard to find in your hometown.
A lot of vocal coaches won’t teach you the styles you want (because they don’t sing in those styles). Some are just like high school choir teachers.
Is that who you really want to learn from?
And of course, they’ll only meet you once a week for a half hour or so.
Sure, they’re still super helpful and useful. But if you ask us… it’s not the best (or most efficient) way of improving your voice.
That’s why we highly recommend you take online singing lessons.
The singing program of choice here at Deviant Noise is HearAndPlay's Vocal Mastery Program.
Full Disclosure: We really believe in this product and receive compensation (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to purchase Vocal Mastery through our links.
We think it’s one of the best available online singing lessons. And tons and tons of people have been really happy with the results they got from it.
You get a ton of great exclusive vocal warm-ups and exercises to use in your practice and Aaron’s methods of teaching are really great.
Each lesson is packed with valuable information about singing like a professional.
We highly recommend you try it out for yourself. We’re sure you’ll be happy with it.
Cot-Damn! That was a long ass guide. But we hope you enjoyed it.
If you’ve got any questions, hit us up in the comments section below.
And if you know anyone that would find this big-ass, monstrosity of a guide useful, please share it on social media.
We’d really appreciate it. (And you’d look like a boss for knowing about this lil gem on the gigantic internet…)
Thanks again fam, peace!