How to learn to sing beautifully at home?

The first steps of a beginner vocalist in questions and answers. Part 1

This time, I decided to structure the narrative in question and answer form. Unfortunately, when I started writing, I realized that there can be quite a lot of questions and a short answer is impossible, so the post will be broken into several (at least – two) parts.

Naturally, if you have any other questions – ask in the comments, I’ll try to answer immediately, or, if there are a lot of questions, will include in the next post.

Question: Ok, let’s say that you really can learn to sing. What should I do next?

Answer: The answer, as usual, is shocking in its depth – you need to start learning. And first of all you have to decide if you are ready to spend a certain amount of time, effort and, unfortunately, money for a long enough period. Because, unfortunately, man is not yet able, like Neo in the Matrix, to load into himself a kung fu program in 20 seconds and immediately run to save the world. If you’ve read the previous post carefully you must have understood that the most part of singing is a question of correct technique, a certain mental and muscular skill (rather difficult, besides it’s not a threefold tulup) and the learning of this skill should be done in old way – by means of repeated trainings and repetitions. And the learning process will be most effective if the “training” is carried out under the guidance and supervision of a sane teacher.

Although, of course, there are exceptions. Many have learned to sing on their own, but as a rule, it is not because of it, but in spite of it.

Question: I really want to learn to sing, but it seems to me that I have no ear, and training will be a waste (and demotivating) time and effort

Answer: Well, let’s check it out – it’s very simple. There is always the possibility that you are in that small percentage of people with no music hearing at all. So, turn your speakers or headphones up. Go to Google and type in a search for Piano online. Alternatively, can put any virtual piano on your smartphone/tablet. Have you opened it? Select any key (for example, the note in C – C4 – it’s right in the middle). Press it and right after – press the next black key to the right (that would be C-sharp – C4 #) – boom-boom. Do you hear that the sounds are different? Now press the same key twice. Do you hear that the sound is the same? If the answer is yes to both of these questions, congratulations, you have hearing.

It may be undeveloped, it may be crooked, it may be out of sync with your voice, but you definitely have it.

Question: It’s a bit bushy. In music school, I was tested – they played two notes and asked which one was higher – which one was lower, and they also played a note and asked me to sing it, and clapped my hands and asked me to repeat in rhythm. The verdict: no ear.

Answer: First a mini flashback – when I was five years old, my dad “stabbed” me like that. But I definitely remember that I just didn’t understand what was “higher” and what was “lower.” Fortunately, he was wrong.

Now, actually, the answer. At a music school, the teachers’ job on the entrance exam is not to determine whether you have an ear or not. Their task is to select a group of a certain number of children with approximately the same initial level of training. Just like in a normal, non-musical school, the teachers need that the child already knows something at a basic level. Do you know a single mentally healthy child who, while not able to read before school, hasn’t learned to read at least somewhat by third grade? I don’t know of any. When they say, “the child has no hearing” or “the child has no sense of rhythm,” most of the time it means “the child does not have a sufficient level of elementary hearing/rhythm development for our class,” not “the child has no musical ear and no way into music.

Question: Is there no way to do this without a teacher? I’m shy/very busy/financially limited/want to try my hand at it first.

A: Well, generally speaking, you can start without a teacher. It’s just that lessons with a teacher are much more effective (“the student sings with the teacher’s ears”), but even with a teacher, you’ll have to practice quite a bit on your own, so why not start with a simple self-taught intonation lesson?

So, the first task you have to do is the most difficult, but fortunately the most “self-solvable.” It’s the ability to sing “into the notes” (“intonate”) in principle. Remember I wrote that music is about certain sounds in a certain sequence? So you have to first learn to sing only certain sounds, and more specifically – only sounds of certain pitch, and even more specifically – those sounds that are part of the most common musical system today (well, that do-re-mi-fa-solo-li-si) within your vocal range (i.e. the pitch range that you are, in principle, capable of singing) – and there are only 12-18 of them.

The good news is that the task of analyzing the pitch of the sound you make has long been algorithmized, and there are a huge number of programs today that will show you what note you’re actually singing. In other words, the “teacher’s ears” in this case will be your smartphone/computer microphone + program.

It doesn’t make any difference which software to use, by and large. I used – for computer – SingingTutorApp (google it), for android – Voice Training Learn to Sing. Both programs are very simple, but in English, if you have problems with it – look for analogues, or ask on peekaboo.

How to practice (using SingingTutorApp as an example):

First, determine your comfortable vocal range. To do this, run the program and sing the syllable “ma” first low, i.e. thick, and then high, i.e. thin. There is no need to strain yourself, the width of the range is not important here. You should sing comfortably and avoid straining in the low parts and in the high parts. Memorize letters and digits that the software shows – these are names of notes (in English notation notes are written in Latin letters – A, B, C, D, E, F, G – for ly, B, C, D, Re, E, Fa, G respectively) and their octave.

Now you set the sliders so that the program outputs only sounds from your range – and go ahead. At the initial level, it is better to set the program so that it plays the sound all the time you press the button (check the box Play while button pressed).

Press Play, the program plays a note, you sing the syllable “ma” (not loudly! not straining!), trying to make the sound as “similar” to the reference as possible – this is a very subjective feeling, it needs to be worked out.

As you sing, the program will show you the note you are actually singing and, accordingly, you need to adjust your voice and sing higher or lower until the note turns green.

Take your time and try to listen to how you feel. How do you feel when the notes match (resonate)? How does it feel different from what you feel when the notes don’t match? What does the note you’re playing right now “look like”? How do you imagine it mentally? How is it different from other notes? And don’t be embarrassed by the fact that you sing mostly past it-it’s okay!

This self-discovery is extremely important! Until you develop a sense of intonation, your brain has to look for something to latch on to when analyzing it. After all, it hears that the sound that plays in your ears and the sound that you make are, generally speaking, different. But at the same time, depending on some action of your ligaments and muscles of the larynx, they become very similar, almost the same. So they have something in common (the answer is the basic carrier frequency) and your brain learns to identify, to isolate that most common thing. And it also remembers what actions lead to this commonality (i.e. you sang “in note”).

Do it daily, for 10-20 minutes or until you get tired. Don’t disturb your brain and have patience – after some time (it can take up to several months – don’t be scared!) you will suddenly start to “recognize” the notes, the notes will have, roughly speaking, coloring, or shape, or roughness, and your voice will start to produce notes closer and closer to the standard. At first this will happen for some individual notes, then the number of “successes” will grow and grow and finally you will start hitting the right note almost immediately.

As you practice, feel free to experiment. What if you widen your range? Or, on the contrary, narrow it down? What if you don’t sing “ma” but, for example, “le”? Or “ee”? Maybe for some vowels your percentage of “hits” is higher than for others? Or for some notes? And why? What if you sing one syllable first and then the other? What changes?

The main thing is to focus not on intonation, but on your feelings, emotions, and try to remember them and reproduce them when singing the next note, and the intonation will come by itself.

Question (the last question for today, but not the most important one): I’ve started practicing and my throat hurts. Is that normal?

It is NOT NORMAL and quite bad, but it happens a lot, especially with beginner singers. During all your vocal exercises you have to understand one critical thing – the ligaments are given to us once and for a lifetime! And this organ is quite delicate, so take care of it.

Of course, like any other muscle, unreheated ligaments can be tired and whiny from the first use, but any painful sensations are an unambiguous signal to stop exercising immediately and make a break until painful sensations disappear. You should not practice on injured muscles!

Moreover, if this feeling comes back, it means that you are doing something wrong, most likely you are straining too much when singing the top notes.

Remember, an intonation exercise doesn’t need a loud sound, you can even sing in a low voice!

Vocal Fundamentals: First Steps, First Exercises

People have been singing since ancient times. And both then and now, singing is a special way to express your feelings, emotions, and mood. And who wouldn’t want to learn how to do it beautifully? I think a lot of people do. Of course, the preparation of a professional singer takes quite a long period of time, but if you start small, you will be carried away by the process itself, and you will notice the positive influence of the exercises I would like to offer you: it will become easier and more pleasant to sing. The fact is that physiologically we are all capable of singing: we have vocal cords, larynx and our body itself, but when it comes to learning to vocalize, it’s really about learning to control the processes that are born in our body and in our vocal apparatus.

The vocal you hear in the songs or at concerts is what the singer has come to by mastering the breathing technique, by learning to hit the notes (intonation); he has learned to use resonators and has his own timbre (by the way, you will always recognize him by this); the singer is not chasing words, and sings according to the vocal orthoepy (there is, for example, a specific pronunciation when singing in English or any other foreign language and it does not always match the norms of spoken language). And to learn to sing beautifully and professionally it is important to master the above “points”.

I’ve put together exercises here that you shouldn’t find difficult, but that will help you take a step forward on the road to mastery.


Getting your breathing right is where any vocalist’s journey begins. Why is it so important to learn how to breathe correctly? The fact is that the wrong breath, not enough breath or the lack of it leads to clamps, in which instead of singing you go to a shout, singing “on cords”, and this often leads to injuries of the vocal apparatus. All, probably, had experience singing in companies, after which “sat down” voice. Meanwhile, the breath determines the strength of the voice, its freedom, timbre, stamina and expressiveness of the performance.

What you need to pay attention to when breathing exercises: to ensure that when you breathe in did not arise overstretching, clamps, shoulders are not raised; when breathing in, the laryngeal muscles are relaxed, so you should try to keep the feeling of inhalation and “transfer” the same position on the exhalation. The inhalation should be active, more intense than our everyday breath, but not greedy or strenuous. The exhalation should be sparing but also free.

Of course, it is useful to know the human anatomy, because we are working with such a “musical instrument” as the human body. First, find the diaphragm (abdominal diaphragm). It is a broad muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Its boundary conventionally runs along the lower edge of the ribs. If a breath is taken correctly, it engages this main respiratory muscle.

  1. Take a calm even breath without a jerk, without a delay. As you exhale, relax.
  2. Short inhale, long calm exhale. Take care not to let go all typed air at once. Uniform exhalation.
  3. “Ksh.” Inhale, then exhale with a “ksh” sound, as if chasing away a cat or bird. This exercise involves the muscles responsible for exhaling. The exercise should be done confidently, but not “impudently”, not aggressively, keep an eye on your neck – it should not strain.


Clean intonation is hitting the notes. Most problems arise from a lack of synchronization between the ear and the voice. Why is it so important to sing cleanly? Every note has its own frequency, maybe you remember that from high school physics. So when a person doesn’t hit a note – he doesn’t hit a particular frequency, and he radiates, you could say, a frequency that is nearby, and as a result there is dissonance and what we hear is picked up by our ear as something wrong, out of harmony. To learn to hit the notes we can help a favorite from childhood activity (who went to music school as a child) – solfeggio. In this case, we develop different facets of our musical hearing: to hear and recognize, to hear and play, to memorize and reproduce notes. For those who are not familiar with music theory (which is directly related to practice), the recommendation is: sing intervals. For example, the well-known “There was a little tree in the forest” – on the words “in the forest” the interval called “large sexta” is sung, and the first 2 notes of our anthem (which is “Russia is our sacred country…”) are the interval “quarter”. With all that said, any song is a sequence of intervals, no matter how prosaic that sounds. And any falsity arises when you take this or that interval incorrectly – understating or overstating the note.

Intonation exercises

  1. Sing an ascending scale (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ci-do).
  2. Sing descending scale (do si la so-fa mi re-do).
  3. Sing the scale from the tonic in ascending order (do-re, do-mi, do-fa, do-solo, do-la, do-si, do-do).

The tonic is the first stage of the harmony. You can play the C major scale on the white keys of the piano from the C note. Gamma A minor is also played on the white keys from the “A” note. These are the simplest (conventionally, of course) scales that you can play even without knowledge of the peculiarities of minor and major scale structure.

If you have an instrument at home, practice this way:

  1. Without looking at the piano keyboard, press 2 notes (which form an interval) at the same time and play them individually at first, then try to connect – go from the bottom note to the top note and back again. This develops your “sense of tone”: you memorize intervals, not only our normal memory but also our muscle memory is triggered.


Sound resonates in the cavities of our singing apparatus. This gives it power and forms the timbre. And timbre is the most important component, timbre is an individual characteristic of the singer, timbres can be similar, but every singer has his own timbre by which he can be distinguished from all others.

The thoracic resonator is the vibrations of the upper clavicle, lower rib, back, chest, trachea, and even the large bronchi. This gives birth to low overtones of the voice.

The head resonator is the vibrations in the head, in the skull up to the back of the head, including the teeth and the vertex. This is where the high-frequency overtones are born.

Mixed resonator is simultaneous vibrations in the head and thorax, sometimes in the shoulder blades and back.

The voice, its evenness of sound in all registers depends on the ability to use resonators automatically .

It is also worth adding that inside the thoracic resonator space the sound is based on relaxation.

Exercises for the resonators

  1. To engage the head register, to feel it, try to shout a long “Hey, hey” without tension, as if you want to shout at someone far away. Your jaw should be relaxed, your tongue and larynx should be relaxed as well.
  2. Lie on the floor, on your back, release all your muscles, then shout freely to the ceiling, “Hey.
  3. Roll over on your stomach, touching your forehead to your hands, exhale calmly several times. Shout out Aaei in this position. While lying on your stomach it will be easy for you to feel the tension in the back of your neck and jaw, feel the muscles involved and gradually learn to control them.

Facial Muscle Development Exercises

  1. Lift and lower the left and right eyebrow alternately.
  2. Lift and lower the right cheek, then the left
  3. Lift and lower the upper lip first, then the lower lip
  4. Pull the right corner of your mouth down, then the left
  5. Squeeze the bridge of the nose, move it up, then down.

All of the above breathing, intonation, and resonator development exercises are a very important initial step. Of course, you want to start singing and chants and songs as soon as possible, and all of this is bound to happen. The main thing is to lay the foundation at the very beginning, and gradually build up your skills.

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