Whether you’re taking voice lessons in San Diego, voice lessons in New York, or anywhere in between, all singers want to sound their best. One big factor in beautiful singing is tone, or the way your voice sounds. For example, some singers have lighter, higher voices while others may be heavier and darker. Everyone has a natural tone based on their biological makeup, but there are many exercises singers can practice in order to improve their tone quality.
No matter what genre of singing you are interested in, learning to sing a legato line is important for creating a smooth, even tone. An Italian word, in music legato refers to the practice of connecting one note to the next so that there are no breaks in the musical line. One of the primary components in keeping an even tone in singing is breath control. If the breath is not consistent, the music won’t be either.
Exercise 1: Hissing
This exercise focuses on breathing and will help with exhaling your breath in a consistent stream.
Step 1: Stand or sit comfortably upright. Your shoulders should be down away from your ears and your limbs should be relaxed, not locked.
Step 2: Take a deep breath, but only take in as much air as you feel comfortable inhaling. Focus on breathing into your core. Your stomach and ribs should expand and your shoulders should stay st
Step 3: Start letting your breath out in a gentle “hiss” like a snake. Concentrate on letting the air out as evenly as possible. You can also place your hand about an inch in front of your mouth as you do this in order to feel the consistency of the air pressure. As you exhale, your stomach should gradually move back to its starting position, while your shoulders and upper torso remain still.
Exercise 2: Long Vowels on a Single Pitch
This exercise focuses on sustaining a steady tone on the same note.
Step 1: Pick a pitch that is somewhere in the middle of your range, not too high and not too low.
Step 2: Sing each of the following vowels on that pitch: Eh, Ee, Ah, Oh, Oo. Concentrate on keeping the tone even and the breath flowing consistently.
Exercise 3: Long Vowels in a Scale
This exercise builds on the previous one, taking the even tone of the vowel and applying it to several notes at a time.
Step 1: Pick a pitch somewhere closer to the bottom of your range.
Step 2: Pick one of the five vowels and sing a scale up and down on that vowel. Go slow and concentrate on making sure your voice does not waver in and out and your breath is consistent. Try to sing the entire exercise on one breath, but if you cannot a breath may be taken at the top of the scale before moving back down.
Step 3: Once you feel comfortable singing the scale on one vowel, try the others. You can also speed up your tempo and take the scale faster.
Exercise 4: Apply to Your Repertoire
This exercise takes what you’ve worked on and applies it to music you like to sing!
Step 1: Pick a song that you have been working on that is comfortable in your voice.
Step 2: Pick your favorite vowel and sing your song using the vowel in place of the lyrics. You may want to slow the song down at first so that you can concentrate on connecting every note to the ones before and after it. Even if there are places in the song where you normally do not connect the notes, sing everything through smoothly for this exercise.
Step 3: Sing the song through again, but this time at your normal tempo and with the lyrics. Take note of the places where it is more difficult to maintain a steady tone and practice those slower.
Be sure to work these exercises into your daily practice routine and you’ll be improving your tone in no time!