Welcome to the new and improved Free Singing Lessons from A2Z
…where you will find everything you need to learn how to sing better and improve your singing voice. Whether you are just getting started or wish to win that grammy, we are here to help you on your journey.
The A2Z Smart Music Group and it’s founders have been helping singers reach their goals since 1991 and are happy to present this new website where professional singers, beginning singers and vocal coaches can join together to share input.
This site contains FREE SINGING LESSONS along with information on where to get some of the best detailed and organized singing lessons in the world.
We are currently merging old technology with new in order to bring you this new project so register with this site so you don’t miss a thing.
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Coach Yvonne DeBandi, BME
Creator of the SingSmart, Not Hard TM, Vocal Training Method
and the A2Z Smart Music Group Team
If you have talked, studied or read about singing anywhere, no doubt you have heard at least once that singing well comes down to breathing. Why? Because your airflow is what breathes life or energy into your tone.
Your breathing abilities as a singer creates the airflow that is somewhat responsible for the creation of your vocal tone, the quality of your vocal tone, the length of your vocal tone and the power of your vocal tone. I say “somewhat responsible” because there are many other factors in the vocal tone game, but one thing is true. If your breathing is out of whack, EVERYTHING else will be too.
Intercostal breathing refers to breathing with the upper lobes of your lungs and could also be referred to as shallow breathing. You might think you are able to get the singing job done with this type of breathing, but it will NEVER be your best choice. This type of breathing generally occurs when the body is under stress, and STRESS never accompanies a good vocal tone.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a term that refers to breathing that engages the diaphragm. It involves a deeper breath, engages the lower lobes of your lungs, and fills your body core with oxygen. This is why I like to call it “body breathing.” While many singers struggle with this technique, believe it or not it is the same EXACT method of breathing we use when we sleep well. When the body relaxes, the brain naturally opens up the pathway and allows the body to rest and heal itself overnight. Because oxygen is a requirement of that physical function, it is a natural course of action for a healthy body.
Understanding the sensation of breathing “correctly” for singing is half the battle. So next time you are about to fall asleep and find yourself in that nice relaxed state, pay attention to how it feels. If you are truly relaxed, you will find that you draw your breath deeply towards your belly button and your sides expand evenly all the way around your midsection. Try to duplicate that relaxed breathing sensation while you are singing and you are on your way!
Breathing. The very life of your singing tone. How do your breathing skills rate?
Singing is a beautiful, athletic artform; the result of the balance of physical, emotional and mental choices of the artist. Some artists focus on the technical side of singing, others focus on delivering their message and mind-blowing performances; but the true artist will work at achieving a personal, unique synergy between all three.
Some singers make it much more difficult on themselves than it has to be by confusing the issue with two words, “right” and “wrong.” This is especially true for young singers training with personal coaches. You must remember that when it comes to art, right and wrong don’t really exist. What matters is did you make the best possible choice (with your current level of skills) to achieve your goal. Meaning, did you have a musical idea in your head, that you physically, emotionally and mentally made the right choices to sign your personal signature?
Remember, NOT making a choice is an ABSOLUTE choice. So if you never take the time to practice opening your mouth taller or to concentrate on that skill while you are practicing, you are CHOOSING to sing with a smaller mouth. Make sense?
Here are some examples of challenges I regularly see in each of the three areas:
Physically – is your body and vocal instrument in good enough shape, with enough developed stamina and dexterity to get your best possible sound with the least amount of effort? Are all the necessary muscles and membranes properly warmed up and ready for the expected exertion? Are you using your full body to sing, with deep full breaths? Is there any kind of tension stealing energy from your vocal tone?
Emotionally – do you have a true understanding of the meaning you wish to convey in the song. Are you 100% committed to the acting required to convey this meaning for the ENTIRE song, or are you easily distracted by the audience, personal thoughts, worry over your performance, etc.
Mentally – do you have the confidence and belief that you belong on that stage? Do you know your lyrics? Do you have stage fright? Do you know your melody inside out? Can you hear it in your head without any music?
The funny thing about art is that it is ever evolving. When an artist of any kind studies their craft, they gain skills and experience, along with opinions of their personal likes and dislikes; and of course don’t forget that many of the greatest works of art come from full blown out mistakes. And while many “interns” of a craft will try to copy the great masters, be sure that you are allowing yourself a chance to develop your own style. Just because you don’t sing it like someone else, or perhaps like the artist on the radio, doesn’t mean it is “wrong”.
So as an artist, don’t put yourself in a closed box. Learn as much as you can about your craft so you can make the best possible choices, suitable for your specific instrument. And while mentors and teachers can guide you there, ONLY YOU can take true responsibility for your development.
So next time you sing a song that you feel you can sing better, remind yourself that if you were knowledgeable about the choices, you could get closer to your personal goals…and when you begin making specific choices about your singing, you begin making art.
Learning to sing is easier than you think, despite the challenges of multi-tasking the information listed in this article. Learn all about it with the Vocal Performance Power Pack and learn how to sing better one step at a time.
Breathing properly for singing is the most important foundation technique. Each and every tone we create is carried on the airflow of our breath. The more control you have over the air flow, the more control you will have over your singing tone.
Imagine a kite flying high in the air. When the airflow is consistent, the kite will fly smoothly and steadily on top of the air current. When the airflow is inconsistent the kite will bob and dive with no rhyme or reason. Your singing tone is much like that kite. If you provide a strong steady airflow, your vocal tone will have the opportunity to ride strongly and smoothly to our ears. But if your airflow is uncontrolled and inconsistent your voice will break and waiver.
The purpose of this narration is to teach you to breathe properly. The purpose of the breathing exercise below is to increase your breathing capacity and control.
Before beginning this breathing exercise variation, please note that bringing more oxygen into your body than accustomed can sometimes result in lightheadedness or dizziness. Please take care to stand close to something that offers support should you need to steady yourself. Conferring with a physician is recommended before beginning any exercise routine.
To breathe properly for singing, you must breathe low into the bottom portion of the lungs, engaging the diaphragm. Your rib cage and back will expand. Your shoulders and upper chest will remain still and will not rise. Try it yourself: Inhale deeply and exhale completely. Again inhale and exhale. Now try it again, only this time inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, exhale over four counts and then wait four counts before inhaling again. Let’s do three complete sets of that counting exercise. Remember to inhale deeply and properly for singing.
Inhale 2 3 4, Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4 and Wait 2 3 Again.
Inhale 2 3 4, Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4 and Wait 2 3 Last Time.
Inhale 2 3 4, Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4 and Wait 2 3 4.
This basic exercise is an easy one you can do every day. Plain fact, the more you exercise your breathing, the more control you will have over your voice. With a little time and practice you will be a master of breathing control. As you make progress, challenge yourself to increase the breathing count to 8, 12, 16 and more. For best results mix and match the numbers. The size of singing phrase is never the same, so practicing all different airflow situations is ideal. Breathing correctly needs to be a habit, meaning you need to do it correctly without thinking about it. So in the beginning you really want to concentrate on the proper technique.
BONUS TIP: Are you sure you’re breathing right? If you are uncertain of yourself see if this little experiment helps. Sit in a chair and while keeping your back straight, lean over and put your elbows on your knees. Take a deep breath. Feel your back and rib cage expand? Now sit up and work to duplicate the feeling, only the expansion should be a ring around your entire body.
Many singers believe if they do not perform regularly they do not need to worry about vocal health and singing “properly.” Unfortunately, just like an unexpected fall out of a tree can cause a broken bone that aches when it rains the rest of your life, one impromptu karaoke performance and improper vocal belt on that high note can cause irreparable vocal damage. A more common condition and resultant situation, however, is Vocal Hyperfunction and Muscle Tension Dysphonia, or hoarseness.
Vocal tone is created when air bursts through the cleft created by our vocal cords and vibration occurs. To create a clear sounding tone, the vocal cords need to come together solidly and completely. If the membranes or surrounding tissues are swollen (or contain lumps or tears), hoarseness will occur. While the damaging effects of infrequent hoarseness are not usually permanent, hoarseness is a sign of significant vocal abuse or fatigue and should not be ignored.
This week I will discuss some basic techniques to prepare your vocal cords for singing and prevent vocal damage.
Tip #1: Warm-up your voice before you sing. Just like you wouldn’t jump into running a ten-mile race without first stretching and warming your muscles, give your voice the same courtesy. It is a good idea to develop a regular routine. Repeating your effective warm-up routine before each singing event will help prepare your voice. Here are some specific tips to get you started: relax your body, do some proper breathing exercises to wake up your airflow and diaphragm, hum your favorite song and do some vocal sirens (slide up and down your singing range on the syllable “ee” imitating the sound of a siren).
Tip #2: Vocal hydration is extremely important, so drink lots of water. Be sure to drink room temperature water before, during and after singing. Drinking anything but room temperature water shocks the vocal cords: cold water tenses the muscles (like jumping in a cold swimming pool does to your whole body) and drinking warm water or substance relaxes the muscles.
It is also important to note that water must be absorbed by the body before being redistributed to your voice organ, so drink water all day long.
Tip #3: Know your limits. Don’t try to sing too high or too low, especially not right off the bat. Allow your voice to prepare for this type of action. Kind of like the high-jump in a track meet — start at a comfortable range and extend from there.
Tip #4: Avoid abusing your voice throughout the day: (a) Don’t talk for extended periods of time; (b) Don’t “talk over” loud noises, such as machinery in the workplace or loud music; and (c) Avoid whispering. All of these actions are stressful to your voice and will cause vocal fatigue.
Performing these basic exercises and remembering these basic facts will reduce the risk of vocal damage, help you enjoy a better singing performance and keep you from sounding like a frog afterwards! Using a professional vocal warm-up and training program is recommended as a fun and easy way to ensure that your voice will be ready to perform day in and day out.
Sometimes even with proper warm-up and practice we need additional help with vocal hydration and opening up our airways. We recommend these high quality products. If you suffer from allergies, these are especially helpful!
There are many reasons why singers might not have breath control at a performance. Whether you suffer stage fright, haven’t been diligent with your exercise routine or been sedentary that particular day, getting your vocal performance power source to work at it’s very best sometimes requires a kick-start: a quick set of Jumping Jacks can do just that.
You see, it isn’t always about the singer’s ability to breathe properly for singing and sometimes it doesn’t come down to breathing technique at all…sometimes you just need to get your heart pumping to really take those deep breaths required to sing at your best. As a performer myself, I try to share the tips and tricks that work for me, but this particular beauty is one I have witnessed work in many different situations.
Karaoke singers often find themselves full of nerves or waiting for an hour or two to grace the stage and professional singers often have long drives to their performance, sound checks that take forever and don’t forget the single song spotlight performances like singing the National Anthem at local ballgame. Do yourself a favor and take three to five minutes before your vocal debut and do something that raises your heart rate. My personal favorite is jumping jacks, but some prefer to run in place, do chorus line kicks and a few of my students even carry a jump rope in their gig bag. To be honest, sometimes I don’t realize how my personal power source is not completely ready until the performance has already begun. On those days it is not uncommon for someone to find me on my first break between sets sneaking away to the restroom or other isolated location to “get my game on.”
As a teacher, my students will tell you that I frequently stop their singing in my studio and ask them to do 25-50 jumping jacks. New students often roll their eyes at me, but the smile on their face when they get back to singing shows me that they reach an understanding with the process as soon as they begin to sing again. It’s not long before they enter their lesson with the comment, “I already did my jumping jacks and I’m ready!” Try it yourself. It can truly make or break your performance.
You can make waking up your vocal instrument easy with this fun and contemporary cardio exercise designed for singers: