How to Sing Better (A Complete Guide)


Improve your vocals with this complete guide and practice plan

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Last Updated: July 2022

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.

If you follow this guide you’ll have:

  • better control & less strain,
  • enhanced pitch + a wider range
  • more power, projection and clarity.
  • a solid plan on how to improve 
  • vocal exercises to practice daily

PLUS, we’ll give you free vocal exercises and a daily practice plan at the end!

How to Sing Better

But, can anyone learn how to sing? What if you have no sense of pitch or are born with a “bad” or “mediocre” voice? Being a great singer and having a perfect voice are two different things. You don’t need the perfect voice to still be a great singer.

Bottom Line – the voice you’re “born with” is not the voice you’re stuck with.

With consistent practice and proper technique, everyone can become a better singer

7 Steps to Better Singing

Remember these 7 tips below. Internalize them – they’re the foundation of a great singing voice.

  1. Warm up your voice before practice or performance
  2. Hydrate your throat and vocal chords – drink water!
  3. Stand up straight and tall – watch your posture!
  4. Breathe from your diaphragm for better breath control
  5. Keep your mouth, tongue, larynx/throat and jaw muscles loose
  6. Learn and practice proper vowel sounds and how to sing them
  7. Improve your pitch/range using training/practice

Special Note: If you want to fast track your learning and improvement, we recommend looking at some of our top-rated 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.

What Great Singers Focus On

Improve Your Vocals

To really improve your voice there’s a lot to focus on, like:

  • Pitch (singing in tune)
  • Vocal Range (what range of notes you can sing)
  • Breath Control (not gasping for air between notes and breathing correctly for singing)
  • Dynamics (being able to sing soft and sing loud)
  • Strain (not hurting your vocal chords)
  • Tone + Resonance (the unique quality of your voice)
  • Power, Projection and Clarity (making sure you’re heard)
  • Vocal Registers (singing from your head, your chest or a mix of both)
  • Confidence and Performance Technique
  • Much, much more…

That’s a lot of shit to worry about…

Below, we’ll get into ways you can improve in all those areas.

Just keep one thing in mind – this guide is just a start on your journey.

If you’re really serious about becoming an elite singer, you need a structured, guided approach to vocal improvement (and consistent work/practice).

Online lessons plans like 30DaySinger are great for that.


Fundamentals of How to Sing Better

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.

Your Vocal Range

Vocal Ranges on a Keyboard

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:

  • Soprano
  • Mezzo Soprano
  • Alto
  • Counteralto
  • Tenor
  • Baritone
  • Bass

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We have an entire article on how to find your vocal range that goes deep into this. Make sure you check it out and find your range. Later in this guide, we’ll show you how to extend it.

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Proper Singing Posture
Image from WikiHow.com

Proper Posture When Singing

Believe it or not, how you stand when you sing can have a huge effect on how you sound. That’s because your posture directly affects how much air you can use and how effectively you can use it.

Here’s the posture you need to have every time you’re singing or practicing.

  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  • Don’t tilt your body back, forward or to the sides.
  • Keep your chin pointed towards the floor (keep looking forward, though, not down)

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.

Using Your Vocal Muscles Properly

Larynx Singing

When you’re singing try and keep your larynx as steady and relaxed as possible. Don’t let if lift up and don’t let it tense 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.

Now place you fingers lightly on/around your larynx and sing a note or phrase. Do you feel it lifting at all? Does it tense up when you sing?

Try to consciously relax that muscle while you’re singing and keep it steady. Practice doing this – it may take some time to get.

Breathing Right for Singing

Breathing is so important when it comes to 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.

And we naturally take shallow breaths in daily life. No one teaches you how to breathe better. It’s just something you do. And those shallow breaths just don’t provide enough air to get a steady, controlled, powerful tone from your voice consistently.

How to Breathe Properly When Singing

Diaphragm Breathing

When you sing you want to breathe 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:

  1. Put your hands on the left and right of your belly (not directly on the sides, but the front of your body)
  2. Breathe in through your nose
  3. Breathe out through your mouth and push downwards and contract your abdomen muscles like you’re doing an ab crunch/sit-up

While doing this, your abdomen should push out when you breathe in, and pull in when you breathe out. But make sure you’re not moving your chest up or outwards while doing this. It should be your stomach/belly moving.

Here’s another way to get the feeling right:

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees raised up (like you’re about to do a sit-up)
  2. Put a large book on your stomach, centered at your waist
  3. Relax all your muscles, breathe in while trying to push the book UP with your stomach/belly
  4. Hold this for a few seconds
  5. Lower the book slowly by breathing out until your stomach is back in its original position
How to Approach Singing

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. We have a good unconscious radar for authenticity and greatness.

Music is all about emotion. So, if you’re doing anything to lessen the emotional experience (like breathing wrong) your performance will suffer.

How to Sing Vowels Correctly

Remember how we said breathing for singing vs. talking is totally different? 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.

How to Sing Vowels

Open up your vowels by keeping your jaw wide (not long, wide) when singing vowels. Here’s how you can practice singing vowels correctly:

  • Say “ah” or “uh”
  • Open up your jaw when making the sounds
  • Keep your tongue against your bottom jaw or bottom teeth when making the sounds
  • Now, try saying “A – E – I – O – U” while NOT closing your jaw at all
  • Keep repeating that until you can say the letters with your mouth/jaw totally open
  • If you feel any tension in your neck/jaw/throat – stop, loosen up and try again

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.


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Beyond the Basics of Learning to Sing

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
  • Pitch
  • Cracks & Breaks in the Voice
  • Extending Your Vocal Range
  • Hitting High Notes
  • Transitions Between Vocal Registers

Let’s go…

Singing With More Power & Improving Vocal Projection

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.

  • Keep you jaw open
  • Tilt your chin down
  • Flex your pectoral muscles (chest)
  • Improve your breathing
  • Keep your tongue out of the way (press it against your bottom teeth if you have trouble)

If you do all these things, over time you’ll notice it’s easier for you to sing powerfully and project your voice more.

Here’s an article on how to strengthen your voice.

Singing on Pitch

How to Sing In Tune – Improving Your Pitch

No one wants to sing off-key. But hitting every note exactly is nearly impossible, 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 piano app on phone/computer or a tone/pitch generator app.

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 vocal pitch app to see how well you’re doing. Here’s the one I use on Android.

Basically, you want to:

  • Hit a note on the piano (don’t let it sustain or ring out)
  • Sing a sustained note in that tone into the microphone of phone/tablet
  • Check the reading on the app/tuner to see how close you were to hitting the pitch
  • Adjust your pitch until you’re as close and steady to the actual tone as possible

The tuner will show you if you’re a little bit flat or a little bit sharp. It’ll also show you how steady you can keep the pitch.

Practice each tone/pitch thoroughly, don’t rush this. You want to train your vocal cords to hit these notes as close as possible. Keep an eye on the Vocal Pitch Monitor while you’re singing and adjust when necessary.

Pitch Perception

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 and intervals are. So, if you hear a note played on a piano you can immediately recognize it and know “oh, that’s an A flat!” or if you hear a C note to a D note you can immediately say “that’s a major second.”

Ear training is tough and takes time, but can help a lot in your musical life.

Related Site Sections You Might Like: How to Sing Harmony

How to Extend Your Vocal Range

Have you figured out your vocal range yet? 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:

Extend Your Range
  • Go to the piano (or piano app) again.
  • Hit the lowest note you can comfortably sing in your existing vocal range (you wrote this down right?)
  • Now move down one half-step (the note directly to the left of – i.e. beside – the note you just hit).
  • Try singing this note without being breathy, scratchy or raspy.
    • If you are breathy or off, keep practicing it until you’re comfortable singing this note naturally.
  • Next, hit the highest note on the piano that you can comfortably sing within your existing range.
  • Now move up one half step (the note directly to the right of the note you just hit
  • Try singing this note without being airy or cracking.

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, add them to your daily practice when you’re doing scales. Take it slow and don’t rush. Eventually try moving up/down another half-step. Extending your vocal range is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s ok if it takes a long time to do. And it’s best to have a professional help you with this, whether that’s an in-person vocal coach or an online trainer.

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. If you feel any pain immediately stop.

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.


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How to Transition Between Vocal Registers

How to Practice Singing

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.

  • Head Voice – the higher area: put your hand on top of your head and sing to feel the vibrations when you hit certain higher tones
  • Chest Voice – the lower area: put your hand on your chest when singing to feel the vibrations of the lower tones you sing
  • Mix Voice – a combination of head and chest voice. This is where the transition takes place when you’re going from low notes to high notes and vice-versa.

Then there are also things like the “whistle register.” 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.

Fixing Cracks & Breaks In Your Voice

Don’t you hate trying to hit a note only to squeak or crack or just all out go silent? 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.

If your vocal muscles are weak they can cause your voice to crack/break, especially when you’re transitioning from using your head voice to your chest voice or vice-versa.

Singing lessons like 30DaySinger have great lessons and exercises on finding and improving each of your vocal registers and your mix voice. Definitely check them out.

Hitting High Notes

Everyone wants to be able to hit those magnificent high notes like Mariah Carey or Beyonce, but that’s a really tough thing to do. 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! And remember don’t lift your chin up (which is a natural thing to do), keep it pointed to the ground.


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Advanced Tips for a Better Singing Voice

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 singing tips we’ve given you so far.

Using Vibrato

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.

You add vibrato to your voice by oscillating the pitch you’re singing slightly up and down instead of holding the pitch completely steady. To practice your vibrato, it can be helpful to use the Vocal Pitch Monitor to see how well your voice oscillates. You’ll get better and better at it over time.

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?

Improving Your Vocal Tone

Despite what some might think, a good vocal tone doesn’t come from singing loud. A great vocal tone happens when you can sing it at a medium level of volume.

Improving Tone

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.

There’s that pesky “breathing technique” coming into play again. (It really is everything…)

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? Try cupping your hands behind your ears as you sing. Don’t cover your ears with your hands, the cupped hand should be behind the ear with the palms facing slightly forward.

You’ll get a better sense of your true tone.

I also highly recommend 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.

Vocal Performance and Confidence

One of the most important aspects of being a “good” singer is your level of self-confidence. It’s a determining factor when it comes to whether or not your audience will be emotionally moved by your performance.

And your audience connecting with you emotionally is key to them loving and remembering you, regardless of how “perfect” or imperfect your voice, tone and technique are.

If you’re timid, and unsure of yourself it shows. And it negatively impacts how your performance is perceived. An audience will connect with a technically inferior but confident singer over a technically superior but self-conscious singer.

Two of the best ways to be confident in your voice and ability is to:

  1. Practice and train yourself to be “ready,” – master the fundamentals
  2. Memorize the piece of music you’re performing
How to Sing

Reading your lyrics from a sheet is ALWAYS a big no-no. Even if you’re in the studio recording. 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.

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.

And the same goes for your fundamentals. If you’ve practiced your pitch a million times, you know you can hit those pitches well and won’t be worried about how you sound.

What does that mean? PRACTICE. A LOT. Confidence comes from consistency and mastery within your craft.

Finding Your Unique Style & Signature Sound as a Singer

singing practice

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.

So get that down first.

But then you need to to start listening to a LOT of your favorite singers. Study them. Copy and imitate them.

Internalizing what you like about each of them. Eventually you’ll notice yourself singing everything with certain characteristics from each of the singers you love.

And all of those different characteristics that naturally pull to you will become a part of your own unique style.


Short Cuts to a Beautiful Singing Voice

Want to REALLY take your singing voice to the next level…?

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.

  • They’re super affordable
  • They’re structured
  • They take you step-by-step, by the hand to where you need to go
  • You’re never frustrated not knowing what to do next
  • You can use them anytime, anywhere you want
  • You can take them anywhere you’re going (vacation/travel/etc)
  • You can go at your own pace (faster or slower)
  • They often come with a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with them

Full Disclosure: We really believe in the programs we recommend below and have partnered with them. We may receive commissions (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to purchase through our links.

The singing program of choice here at Deviant Noise is HearAndPlay’s Vocal Mastery Program IF YOU’RE A GOSPEL/R&B/SOUL SINGER.

If you’re not specifically trying to sing in those styles, 30DaySinger is the best all-around program we’ve reviewed and is great for beginner singers in any genre/style.

Free Vocal Exercises and Singing Practice Plan

As promised, below is a free singing practice routine and set of singing exercises for you to use. The exercises are great to improve your breathing, vowel singing, and other areas of your technique effectively.

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.

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Here’s what you get when you download:

  • Easy Access Cheat Sheets – quickly reference our vocal exercise guide and practice plan anywhere, anytime you want.
  • Step-By-Step Instructions – we explain exactly how to do each of the vocal exercises, step-by-step.
  • A Complete Practice Guide + Timeline – know exactly what part of your voice you should work on, and when/how to move on.
  • Additional Singing Tips & Resources – sign up and we’ll keep in touch with our latest guides, tips and resources for a better singing voice!

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    How to Sing Wrap-Up

    OK.

    That was a long ass guide. Congratulations on making it through this 4500+ word monstrosity.

    You should have a pretty good understanding of the entire singing process now. It doesn’t matter what type of music you want to sing, if you follow the tips here you will improve your voice.

    The key really is to focus on the fundamentals – your breathing, your pitch, etc. – and practicing them daily. Consistency is what will take you from mediocre to superstar level.

    But it takes time, so don’t get too disheartened.

    And of course, sign-up for our free Vocal Exercises and Practice Plan. You’ll also get first-notice of all our new guides and blog posts.

    Thanks again for reading!

    Back to Main Singing Section

    About The Author:

    Photo of author

    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.