Vocal mistakes are common among budding singers, as well as experienced vocalists. We have heard plenty of stories of famous singers who have had to have vocal cord surgery or have, in some way, damaged their vocals. Anatomically, our vocal mechanisms are mostly made up of soft tissue and muscle, so it can be easy to cause a negative effect through lifestyle choices and improper singing technique.
Smoking, dehydration, alcohol consumption and even certain foods can affect our voice. More commonly, however, it’s the way we use our voice that causes the most damage. Here are five vocal mistakes you should avoid!
Vocal Mistake 1: Breathing Wrong
Bet you have never thought there might be a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to breathe until starting your adult singing lessons! And yet, here we are. Breathing like a singer is one of the first things you should learn when you embark on your journey as a vocalist. It will help you get more power out of your voice and prevent damage and straining.
Vocalists breathe deeper when they sing, engaging their core and focusing on directing air to lower lungs and belly. When we breathe from our chest, we tend to have much less stamina and we risk putting a strain on our vocal cords, rather than supporting them with breath. Singing is often compared to deep meditation due to the way breathe, and it has been associated with many physical and emotional benefits.
Vocal Mistake 2: Not Warming Up
Just like athletes warm up before any workout or a major competition, so should you warm up your voice as a vocalist! A solid warm up routine could start with gentle breathing exercises and hums. Then, move to more complex pitch exercises, starting to warm up the rest of your range and adding more volume to your voice. Not only does warming up help to prevent vocal damage but you’ll also be pleasantly surprised with how much more you can achieve when your voice is fully warmed up.
Vocal Mistake 3: Singing Too Loudly or Too Quietly
There is nothing wrong with achieving a powerful belt as you sing. Problems arise when you are not actually singing but yelling instead. That’s why proper breathing is so important. We have to draw power from our breath rather than straining and, potentially, damaging our vocal cords. If you can’t yet achieve the volume you’d like in a healthy way, don’t worry. It takes time to build to that powerful voice you’ve always dreamed of. It’s best to be patient with yourself and do it the healthy way.
Singing too breathy or too quietly is very common for beginners in our adult singing lessons who shy away from their own voice. While you may feel that you sound better singing quieter, it can result in tonal inconsistencies and even affect your pitching. By engaging your breath and projecting your voice, you will be able to instantly sing louder and with more power. Again, it might take time to build to a powerful voice, however, avoid being too breathy and whispery when you begin. In fact, whispering can also be damaging to your vocal cords.
Vocal Mistake 4: Not Knowing Your Voice
This vocal mistake splits into two categories. Those who don’t know their voice and those who avoid getting to know it and try to sound like someone else.
Why is getting to know your voice so important? You need to understand your vocal range and the natural qualities of your voice. Of course, you can improve and develop your vocal, however, we are all given a unique voice that needs to be appreciated and embraced. Knowing your range will help you to pick songs that suit you, alter them to fit your voice and help you avoid vocal damage by trying to sing too high or too low. Similarly, understanding your tone will make it easy for you to highlight your best qualities and truly enjoy the process of singing. Sometimes, it’s not our voice that’s the problem but rather a bad choice of song or singing outside of our range.
We frequently come across students who are trying to sing like their favourite artists. Sure, you might have been inspired by Freddie Mercury, Adele, Etta James, and other iconic singers to pursue a career in singing yourself. And that’s great! But you must remember, the reason we love those vocalists is because their voices are unique and distinct. So is yours! Instead of trying to imitate your favourite artists, get to know your own voice and learn to work with it. You will develop your technique much quicker, prevent damage by singing in a way that isn’t natural to you and become an artist in your own right, learning to appreciate what makes you stand out.
Vocal Mistake 5: Practicing Incorrectly
Last but not least, the way we practice is how we form good and bad vocal habits, so don’t just gloss over your practice sessions! Ensure you practice intentionally, following a solid warm up session, paying attention to your technique as you sing. Focus on areas that you need to develop and allow extra time to work on those.
Don’t just ignore vocal mistakes, poor technique and, especially, discomfort, fatigue, or pain. Try to figure out what’s causing these issues and fix them by forming good, healthy singing habits instead. You might learn a lot of new techniques and warm up exercises in your adult singing lessons, but the real work happens during practice. Writing down or, better yet, recording the advice and exercises given to you by a teacher can be a great way to structure your practice sessions and ensure you continue the excellent work you’ve done in class.
Want to avoid common vocal mistakes? Learn to sing with London Singing Institute!
The best way to promote healthy vocals, learn techniques used by professionals and progress quickly yet safely is to learn with a qualified vocal coach! At London Singing Institute, we offer adult singing lessons in a non-judgmental, encouraging environment. We have stunning Central London premises where you can feel at ease, singing to your heart’s content. Our vocal coaches also offer online lessons, so you can learn from the comfort of your own home, wherever you are.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advancing vocalist, we can take your voice to the next level and unlock your inner confidence. We teach all popular styles, including pop, musical theatre, rock, blues, jazz and classical. Group classes are also available for those who are in a band or prefer to sing with friends or family. Get in touch today and start to enjoy the incredible benefits learning to sing can offer.
Tags: How to practice
, Singing Tips
, Singing advice