Reality singing competition shows like Idol and X Factor give us glimpses of singing difficulty that could be ridiculed by many viewers. In The Voice, we can also watch how few singers have issues like difficulty transitioning between lyrics and phrases during the mentoring/practice sessions with celebrity singers. While we can always laugh and follow how the drama unfolds, these singing competition shows have never showed us any hints of how to deal with common singing issues. We can assume that the ones we laughed at have not yet received proper training in vocal techniques. Mastering various aspects of vocal techniques is essential if you want to become a successful singer in the popular music industry.
Whether you want to stay low profile or to achieve stardom, here are few important elements of vocal techniques that you should master:
Relaxed Singing Anatomy
Any elements of singing including high notes, long phrases, and vocal improvisation/effects should flow smoothly like speaking to an audience, our acquaintances, and our loved ones. One way to achieve this is by neutralizing and relaxing the anatomical structure of and surrounding your vocal cords. The most important parts that are involved in the production of sound are jaw, throat and larynx. Specifically, your jaw needs to be relaxed, your throat needs to be opened wider, and your larynx needs to be neutralized (or in the neutral position). A tensed jaw, tight lips, and a pushed/pulled larynx at the start of singing will impede the muscles or movement of the anatomical structure and this will in turn contribute to common singing issues and vocal cords malfunction.
Sustained Breath Support
Breathing in singing is different from the normal process of breathing where we continually inhale and exhale air out of our lungs. It has to do with maintaining air pressure in our lungs and resisting the urge to exhale that air pressure. The anatomy that plays the very important role in maintaining breath support is diaphragm. With the cooperation of your diaphragm, sustaining breath support is necessary when you sing higher notes, longer phrases/lyrics, and more difficult part of a song. Few ways that can help you work on maintaining breath support or breathing through diaphragm are yoga, vocal exercises, and breathing exercises.
Trained Vocal Muscles/Cords
Singing high notes, long phrases, and any challenging songs needs endurance that can help you to continually sustain your breath support. As part of building endurance/stamina in your vocal performances, you need to train your vocal muscles to help you face difficult parts of singing without struggle or strain. This can be achieved by regularly practicing vocal exercises like humming, lip trills and nays. Regular practice of vocal exercises can stretch or warm up your vocal cords, develop your vocal muscles overtime, and improve pitch. You can also train or develop your vocal cords further by practicing other types of vocalization like twanging, belting, and grunting if you want to improve your tone and sound quality.
Another thing that has not been mentioned here is the importance of proper posture. Mastering proper posture will enable you to relax the anatomical structure surrounding your vocal cords, to continually sustain your breath support and to improve your pitch as part of your routine vocal practice. Notice how each element of vocal techniques work together in developing your vocal potential further. Overtime, you should not be straining or struggling to reach that higher notes and getting out of breath to overcome long phrases/lyrics. Instead, you should be singing freely in any notes and any phrases to captivate the judges in any singing competition shows, your audience in concerts and your listeners at home.