4 Tips to Become a Better Singer

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Do you have dreams of singing for the stage? Whether you’re a novice singer looking to learn the ropes or a seasoned professional just looking for some quick tuning tips, our team of Backstage Experts—all industry professionals in their own right—have your back. Below, we’ve rounded up four pointers on singing, across warm-ups, vocal health, and more. Click here for even more singing and acting advice from our resident experts!

READ: How to Achieve a Flawless Vibrato

On perfecting your vibrato.
“Vibrato is a small variation of pitch occurring spontaneously that results from the free oscillation of the vocal cords. A singer achieves a healthy vibrato by allowing for an open pharynx (open throat) while his/her vocal cords come together seamlessly without unnecessary holding/tension. It is the result of these opposing factors working together. Put simply: ‘Open throat, closed cords’ results in vibrato. Also essential for a healthy, spontaneous vibrato is an even, consistent air pressure vibrating the vocal cords, or good breath support, in other words. The optimal amount and pressure of the air being moved past the cords is regulated by a singer’s support system (i.e., engagement of their abdominal oblique muscles, rectus abdominis muscles, transverse abdominis muscles, lower lumbar muscles, perineum or pelvic floor, and intercostal muscles).” —Arden Kaywin

READ: 5 Elements of Perfect Performing Posture

On keeping good singing posture.
“Actors have quite a bit of stimuli in front of them. Scene partners, cameras, audiences, and audition panels all conspire to pull an actor’s energy forward, and the result can be a head posture that juts out in front of the body. In addition to putting strain on the vocal mechanism, this position causes pain in the upper back and neck, and doesn’t look so hot, either. The correct neck position is to have the ears balanced directly over the shoulders, and to keep the chin level (it may feel like the chin is lowered slightly).” —Andrew Byrne

READ: 1 Exercise for a More Efficient Vocal Warmup

On the benefits of meditation.
“Many singers and actors are aware of the effect of meditation on managing their nerves, anxiety, and ability to focus, but many are unaware of the additional, seemingly miraculous effect of minimizing warm-up times and releasing muscle tension. Meditation reportedly stimulates the vagus nerve, which powers many systems in your body like your heart rate and blood pressure, as well the muscles of your throat and larynx, or voice box. Stimulating this nerve through meditation also appears to open the throat more readily and drastically reduce the time it takes to warm up. Singers and actors have often noticed that as little as two minutes of meditation can ground the voice, open the throat, improve resonance, extend the range with greater ease, and more. Cutting your warm-up time from 20 minutes or more down to two minutes opens up time to focus on other aspects of your craft during your time-pressed practice sessions.” —Tom Burke

READ: 12 Jaw-Dropping Singing Tips

On practicing proper breathing.
“When we speak, we don’t run out of breath in the middle of our sentences and we don’t actively ‘take’ a breath before we speak. Our body knows how much air we need because it responds to what we want to say. In much of our vocal register, the same rules apply. Actively ‘taking’ a breath can cause tension in your chest, shoulders, and neck. Think your thought and you’ll have the air you need for the phrase you need to sing. [And] don’t hold your breath before you sing. Read any sentence in this blog out loud. Done? Notice you didn’t hold your breath and you exhaled as you spoke. Now sing that sentence. It should feel the same. If you took a breath and held it right before you sang, you’re causing tension by doing too much. Just say what you have to sing.” —Philip Hernández

Ready to take these tips to the audition room? Check out our audition listings for musicals!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Philip Hernández
Philip Hernández is an audition coach and working actor in New York City. He uses his 30 years experience on stage and on camera to teach the real world skills you need to book the jobs you want. His students appear on Broadway, in regional theaters, national tours, on television, and in film.
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Andrew Byrne
Andrew Byrne is a voice teacher, performer, and composer-lyricist. His songs have been featured in movies, Seth Rudetsky’s “Obsessed!” series, and in many international concert venues. He has served on the University of Michigan musical theater faculty, and has taught internationally at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, The Banff Centre, and the Danish Academy of Musical Theatre.
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Arden Kaywin
Arden Kaywin is voice teacher, vocal coach, and vocal producer in Los Angeles with over 10 years experience working with developing singers and nearly 20 years as a professional singer herself. She holds a master’s degree in music and vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music in NYC, where she studied classical voice and opera.
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Tom Burke
Tom Burke is an image consultant, headshot coach, and acting teacher. After transitioning from a successful print model to an accomplished on-camera actor to a proficient on-set acting coach, Burke focused his wealth of knowledge and keen eye to become one of L.A.’s premier image consultants and headshot coaches, and creator of the Castable Actor, a series of workshops, seminars, and advice designed to help actors open doors to a successful career.
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