The human voice is a remarkable musical instrument, one that is affected by tiredness, poor singing technique, inferior posture, and a host of other lifestyle issues.
If you want to know how to improve your voice quality for singing, starting with this shortlist is the short answer. Overdoing it in a singing class, too many concert performances in a row, lack of sleep, smoking, excessive alcohol, and many other things are all things to avoid if you want to know how to improve your singing voice.
All of these things can cause inflammation and vocal irritation which can hinder the vocal cord vibration and create irritation that could require therapy and vocal rehabilitation. And if you want to know how to better your singing voice, knowing when you need medical intervention is key.
So the burning questions are:
How can you combat voice loss? And, how to improve your voice quality for singing?
If you are looking for how to better your singing voice so that you can avoid vocal cord problems and vocal fatigue, in this article, we offer advice on how to preserve your voice, as well as tips for improving your singing voice.
In this article, we're going to look at the causes of vocal fatigue, techniques that will help you preserve your voice as well as tips for improving your singing voice like stretching your vocal cords with the straw technique or vocal gymnastics.
Bear in mind that how to better your singing voice may, at times, include medical intervention.
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The Causes of Vocal Fatigue and Voice Loss
In looking at how to improve your voice quality for singing, the factors that are detrimental to your voice first need to be considered. Bear in mind that the sound made by the instrument of the human voice is produced air from both the lungs and larynx. In fact, the lungs, diaphragm, abdominals, vocal cavity, and vocal cords are all involved in the vibration of vocal cords and adjustment of larynx muscles to alter the sound.
Throughout your life, you will notice how your vocal cords will change. This can happen naturally, or through strain and fatigue. Once this happens, the voice is unable to produce certain frequencies. Even for professional artists, singing lessons to improve your voice at this point are often essential.
Tips for improving your singing voice include knowing what can negatively affect your voice.
- Inflammation caused by a bacterial or viral infection.
- Overuse of your voice.
- Poor vocal hygiene: dry air, smoking, urban pollution, and air conditioning.
Smoking is a leading cause of hoarseness and voice loss.
Nicotine decreases the elasticity of vocal cords and results in the distinctive ‘smoker's voice’.
Interestingly, singing lessons to improve your voice will include breathing techniques, because poor breathing also negatively affects the voice.
Tips for Improving Your Singing Voice
The Straw Technique
If you’re distressed by vocal fatigue, voice loss, or hoarseness, the first thing you should do is rest for 48 hours.
Also, try natural remedies like honey, lemon, herbal teas, and lozenges. If all this is unsuccessful, try the straw technique which dates back to 1902 and was later made popular in Finland during the 1960s.
Vocal fatigue causes vocal cords to swell which means that your throat will close when you try to sing, causing more swelling. This is when the straw technique can help.
Basically, get a narrow straw and then sing into it. This entails sliding between your top and bottom range and belting out notes at high volume. Try this for 3-5 minutes, try speaking, and then sing again.
This stretches the vocal cords, reduces the pressure so that vibration is easier, and allows sound at less effort. You will feel more comfortable and like your throat has been cleared.
Exercises for Improving Vibrations
Before you go rushing off to an ENT or speech pathologist, or diagnosing yourself online (which will say you have some dread disease), here are some exercises that will help you with how to improve your singing voice.
- Voiced Fricatives
Dating back to the 1930s in Denmark, this technique reduces the force applied to vocal cords so that vibration can be increased.
Say “V” and then hold the note. Vibrations will be felt between teeth and lips. Using moderate volume, slide through your range while contracting abdominals as you breathe out and relaxing them as you breathe in.
- The “M” Exercise
Developed more recently in the 2000s, this technique is from ‘Resonant Voice Therapy’.
Make the sound of an “M” while feeling the vibrations around your nose. Next, make a strong “E” sound and hold the note while you feel vibrations in the upper teeth. Finally, make an ‘ooh’, feeling the vibration in your lips.
Finding a comfortable volume, sing notes with these sounds one after the other. Concentrate on the vibrations through your slide and this will help you to hone in on your vocal range.
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If you undertake singing lessons to improve your voice, you will notice that not every vocal exercise suits every singer. This is why you should try different techniques for different scenarios and see which ones work best for you.
If Your Voice is Stuck in Your Throat
A daily dose of facial gymnastics will decrease the pressure in your throat, by ensuring that you use your lips and stomach. All of this is how to better your singing voice.
Try saying ‘key-ooh-eeks’ while exaggerating the articulation of the first part ‘key-ooh’. Keep your lips rounded and with a smile, say ‘eeks’. Repeat around 30 times and then try singing it with a melody.
You’ll notice that your vocal cords won't tire as easily because your lip muscles will be doing some of the hard work.
Voices that Don’t Carry
Read a text audibly 5 to 10 times per day, but without articulating the consonants. Doing this will make you aware of their importance. When it comes to how to improve your singing voice, this works by increasing the vibration of your voice so that you can increase the intensity without tiring.
If your voice doesn’t carry and you are wondering how to better your voice for singing, this is a good exercise.
Voices That Are Too Soft
Place your hands on your bellybutton and think of anything that makes you angry. Then, read some text while pushing your hands into your stomach to bring up the sound. Belt out consonants with a fully open mouth and express the emotion that is being felt in your stomach.
Consult a Vocal Medical Professional
What if these techniques don’t work?
If your symptoms persist for longer than a week after trying all these exercises and natural remedies, seek medical advice from a speech pathologist or ENT doctor. Checking out our vocal cords through a laryngoscopy is an excellent way to take care of your singing voice.
A professional diagnosis could help you when it comes to how to improve your voice quality for singing.
If you want to know how to improve your singing voice, make sure that you exercise good vocal cord care to help prevent hoarseness, damage to your vocal folds, and other disorders.
Singing Lessons to Improve Your Voice with a Private Tutor
If you are serious about how to improve your singing voice through good techniques that will also help to maintain your voice and prevent injury, then consider a private singing tutor on a platform like Superprof.
Singing tutors are equipped to help you perform at your best. They are also a well-informed first port of call when a voice problem or injury presents.
On Superprof, when searching by location, you could find many singing tutors near you, who not only have verified credentials and reviews on their profiles, but also offer their first lesson for free. This is a wonderful way of finding out if the potential tutor is suited to you, or not.
Superprof tutors are available for in-person lessons, but also for online tuition if that method suits you better. All you need is the internet and a webcam and you could be on the road to improving your singing voice in no time. Private, singing tuition in South Africa averages at R320 per hour depending on where you are located.
Of course, there is also the option of joining a singing class, however, bear in mind that even though this route is more affordable, you will not benefit from the individual attention that most professional singers seek.
Regardless of the route that you choose, never forget that your voice is a valuable instrument and should be treated as such!