Perhaps you can sing better without lessons so long as you sing constantly. But maybe one half-hour lesson will save you months of self-taught trial and error. Even Frank Sinatra had a singing coach throughout his career.
No, you won’t sing better without lessons. Learning from a good teacher, the knowledge you gain will be no weight to carry and you will progress faster and more confidently, like learning to drive a car.
Here’s what you can do until you find your guru:
Understand your diaphragm and know how to work with your diaphragm: to work with your diaphragm don’t do anything. I know this sounds back to front but think of a pipe organ: You have a keyboard, a bellows and of course the pipes. The keyboard plays the notes, the bellows provides the air and the pipes the music. In the case of a human, the notes come from your mind, the music from your mouth and the bellows your lungs. This is meant to be a natural feeling for you as a singer. Your diaphragm is already a perfectly working machine, it’s just a matter of understanding how it works. So, the practical application of this is to be sure that you breathe deep, not so much expanding the chest out but breathing down below your navel.
Use your breath from deep in your lungs. You want to feel like your singing from below your navel. This will allow you to hold notes longer and not have to breathe every few words or so. The exercises I recommend are as follows:
- The Siren Wail. Start at your lowest note reaching all the way up to your highest note then back down again while singing “Eee” or “ah”.
- The Singing Exhale. Take a deep breath in, then exhale on a note; take care not to overexert your self. Slowly breathe out as you sing a note, then repeat by breathing in deeply and sing as you exhale again but on a different note. This helps increase lung capacity.
- Talk it. Just literally talk a song you want to sing while trying to match the notes. This is a great exercise that will help you get familiar with notes in your head as well as learn how to naturally relax when you sing. It also helps with pitch control.
The main purpose of these exercises is to build lung capacity and strength while also becoming familiar with your range and possibly even extend it. We cover how to discover your singing range here.
Learn to sing in tune. This is very challenging to do on your own as it is for many singers both new and seasoned. The best thing I find that really helps is to use a magical instrument known as the piano. If you don’t have a piano or keyboard, I recommend virtualpiano.net which replicates a piano’s keyboard sound and pitch with perfect accuracy, online. Play a note on the piano anywhere and try to match that note. You can record yourself on your phone to give yourself instant feedback. The more you listen, the better you will get.
Get involved with a music group of some kind. You can soak it all up by being part of a choir or audition for stage shows or just straight-up work backstage on a musical show of some kind. If you get involved with a choir you will work with a director who will understand vocal range and how voices work together (Bass, Baritone, Tenor, Alto, Mezzo and Soprano), and help you find your range too. Stage musicals you will surround you with people who love the craft and you could make a few cool friends from the experience as well as enhance your own singing life.
Get lessons! Do you know anyone who taught themselves to drive a car? Singing is much more dangerous than driving a car!