One of the most important skills to acquire from any vocal lesson is how to create good tone when singing. But… what is good tone and how do you get it? Internationally acclaimed voice & performance coach, Steven Memel gives the specifics in this article.
The truth is, what’s “good tone” is a tough question to answer. However if you look at the idea of “good tone” in its purest form, good tone is the result of good technique
A good balance of the registers, enough breath to do the job, not too much compression on the vocal cords and a clear sense of where you want to experience the resonance are all components of a technique that produces great tone.
Acquiring this ability requires taking some basic steps:
Relaxation when singing is very important. A tense singer will have a weak resonance and tone in their voice. Relaxing also inhibits the tendency to strain when attempting to hit notes at the edge or your natural range.
Breathing is another key factor to getting good tone. Babies breathe properly, as only their stomachs move during the intake and release of the breath. As adults we often need to relearn this method of breathing, so practice taking in and releasing your breath with a minimum of movement from your chest and shoulders.
Develop consistent vocal warm-up techniques. Humming is suggested as a method to warm up the muscles your body will use while singing.
Study your role models. Copy their performances. Imitate their voices. Do this with enough artists and eventually you won’t remember what belongs to whom. Then just go for it without thinking and see what shows up.
Experiment with different types of musical styles, and different performance styles. Find one that you are comfortable with and that allows you to stay relaxed and breathe properly.
Get a job singing! Nothing can replace practice, and getting paid for it! So after you feel comfortable with the techniques described above, put yourself out there. Get used to singing in front of people. In addition to developing your vocal abilities, you will also be able to practice other very important aspects of a professional singer such as stage presence, and the ability to read a crowd and get in touch with their moods.
Track your progress. Record yourself singing (you will be surprised at how different you sound at first!). Doing this once a month will help you detect areas of weakness you can improve and areas of strength to draw upon during a performance.
Learn how to care for your voice. Avoid straining your vocal cords by yelling or screaming. Drink plenty of fluids, at least 64 fluid ounces of water a day to keep your vocal cords hydrated, but avoid dairy as they produce mucous which will make it hard to keep your throat clear.
Lastly, if you can budget it, find a voice coach. There’s no substitute for one-on-one coaching. Remember… you don’t know what you don’t know!