You want to make the most of your voice lessons, but you’re not sure if simply attending the lessons is enough.
Are there things you can do both during your lesson and during your practice time at home that can maximize your efforts?
The answer is “Yes!”
We’ve outlined 13 vocal lesson tips to make your lessons as beneficial as possible.
Table of Contents
- Boost Confidence and Improve Your Skills With These 13 Vocal Lesson Tips
- Northwest School of Music: Offering Voice Lessons With Technique, Vocal Health, and Fun in Mind
Boost Confidence and Improve Your Skills With These 13 Vocal Lesson Tips
Voice lessons are an excellent way to hone your singing and performance skills. More than that, vocal lessons can also deliver the following benefits:
- Encourages creativity
- Raises confidence
- Strengthens lung function
- Exercises the brain
- Improves mood and happiness
- Exposure to a variety of musical styles
- And more
If you’re a new vocal student or have been taking lessons for years, we’ve compiled a list of 13 vocal lesson tips to help enhance your vocal lesson experience.
At Northwest School of Music, we offer voice lessons for both adults and children. We want to lead you in achieving your singing goals while teaching you healthy singing techniques.
More than anything, we want your voice lesson experience to be a fun and encouraging way to unleash your true singing voice.
With the following voice lesson tips, Northwest School of Music instructors are ready to help you get started.
#1: Focus on the Basics
When you think of singing basics, you might hear Julie Andrews in the background:
“Let’s start at the very beginning,
A very good place to start.
When you read, you begin with A-B-C,
When you sing, you begin with Do-Re-Mi.”
Though she definitely got it right in The Sound of Music, there are some other basics you should think about to get the most out of your voice lessons.
You can remember the five foundations of singing with this easy acronym — BRAVA:
- Breathing – To increase vocal power and stability, engage your diaphragm when you inhale and fill your abdomen with air. If you’re new to singing, you can retrain your breathing with some exercises from your vocal coach.
- Resonance – Resonance refers to the quality of your singing tone. Rather than resonating mainly from the head or chest, your vocal coach will help you learn how to integrate various areas of resonance (larynx, pharynx, mouth, nasal cavity, head, and chest) for the best sound.
- Articulation – Articulation deals with how we make the sounds of specific consonants and vowels. Articulating well when singing is important to convey style and meaning.
- Vowels – Vowels deserve some special attention when it comes to singing. Learning to sing the five basic vowel sounds and diphthongs will improve clarity and sound.
- Agility – Agility refers to flexibility in the voice and being able to sustain notes and move the voice melodically from the upper to lower registers of the voice. There are all sorts of vocal exercises singers can practice in lessons and at home to strengthen the agility of their voice.
In addition to these basics, don’t forget about posture.
Whether standing or sitting when singing, the proper posture can make all the difference in how your voice projects and how your voice tires. Correct singing posture allows for breath to move freely through your body. For good singing posture, focus on lining up the body from head to toe and keeping your body relaxed and balanced.
#2: Prioritize Your Vocal Health
As a singer, your voice is your instrument, and you want to keep it in tip-top shape.
We know — you’re excited about singing and want to jump in and get started. But warming up is essential, not only for vocal health but also for optimal performance. At your lesson, your vocal coach will warm up your voice with vocal exercises you can practice at home.
For new students, warm-ups also help the instructor teach beginners how to practice at home to breathe from the diaphragm without tension in the throat.
In addition to proper warm-ups, you can prioritize your vocal health by:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Staying hydrated
- Getting enough sleep; and
- Not smoking
Focusing on vocal health means you’ll have a fit instrument that will allow you to sing for many years to come.
#3: Foster a Comfortable Teacher/Student Relationship
Singing in front of someone for the first time can be scary and intimidating — it’s natural to feel that way. That’s why it’s important to establish a comfortable relationship with your voice instructor.
Before you even begin lessons, it’s a good idea to meet the instructor to get to know each other informally. That should make the first lesson less stressful and more enjoyable.
It’s also important to be honest with your voice instructor. If you’re nervous, let them know. Are you confused about what they are asking you to do in your lesson? Share that with them.
Communicating well with the voice teacher can help foster a good relationship, allowing you to shine during your lessons.
#4: Start Small
Maybe you’re starting lessons because you have big dreams. You see yourself singing a solo in your school choir or maybe singing an aria from your favorite opera.
Dreams and goals are important — and you’ll surely get there — but biting off more than you can chew at the beginning can be discouraging.
The key is to start small with easier songs and progress from there.
A good voice teacher will want to see what you can do and give you songs to work on that are achievable but ones that also build confidence.
Starting with songs that require mastering challenging techniques can be overwhelming. Trust your instructor’s experience and know that each lesson will take you closer to your goals.
Our vocal instructors at Northwest School of Music are committed to helping you move toward your singing goals while having fun all at the same time.
#5: Build Confidence
The more you do a thing, the more confident you become. That’s true when it comes to singing, as well.
In your voice lessons, you’ll learn many skills and techniques that you’ll use in your singing. And the more you use and practice those skills, the more confident you’ll become.
Education builds confidence, and when you…
- Start small
- Grow on that foundation; and
- Master technique
… your confidence will grow as well. And as you grow in confidence, it will make it easier to reach the next challenge.
#6: Track Your Progress
No matter what the endeavor, seeing how far you’ve progressed is always encouraging and motivating.
But how do you track voice lesson progress? Here are a few ideas:
- Using the video or audio functions on an iPhone or iPad, record parts of your lessons. As a beginner, you may want to record the exercises your instructor teaches you so you can practice them at home. Or record portions of your lessons months apart to see how you’re improving.
- Record yourself singing a particular song and then re-record it after a month and again after another month. You’re sure to see progress and mastery over the long haul.
- Rely on feedback from others. Your voice instructor will be the best source of feedback. Your instructor may give feedback like, “Remember when you first started this song? Now look at how far you’ve come!” or “Remember how nervous you were at your first recital? You rocked this one with your poise and confidence.”
- Voice students can also keep a training journal to record practice times and songs, improvement in their vocal range, and notes about particular challenges or breakthroughs.
#7: Train Your Ear
Training your ear involves singing on pitch and staying in tune.
Some singers may have a natural gift for matching pitch or repeating melodies they’ve heard only a time or two. Others may struggle to match pitch or may tend to sing flat or sharp, depending on the song and their range.
If you are a singer that struggles in this area, your vocal instructor can help.
They can help you learn how to seamlessly switch between your head and chest voice to stay in tune. They can also lead you in some exercises to build your pitch-matching skills. You’ll likely start out with some five-note exercises and then build up to exercises with:
- 8-note (octave) scales
- Challenging melodies
- Exercises using major and minor scales
#8: Increase Your Vocal Range
Range has to do with how low and how high you can sing. As a beginner, your vocal range may be very limited, but with diligence and repetition, you’ll be surprised at how much you can expand your vocal range.
First, your vocal instructor will help you find your personal range. Maybe you’re a soprano or tenor and can sing notes that are high in your register. Or maybe you have a lower voice and are comfortable singing alto or bass.
Whether your personal range is high or low, increasing your vocal range is important.
Songs are written in various keys, and most songs are written over a moderate or vast range. Rarely will you find a song that stays within the boundaries of your personal range.
You may naturally sing low or high, but increasing your range will prepare you to be able to sing songs that might not necessarily fit perfectly in your range. With a flexible range, you won’t be limited to song choices or styles.
#9: Learn Basic Music Theory
The majority of your voice lessons will be spent learning songs and vocal techniques, and probably very little time will be spent learning music theory.
However, learning some basic music theory will be helpful as it fits in with the lesson material.
And growing in music theory knowledge can have these advantages:
- Makes you a well-rounded musician
- Helps to learn music faster
- Helps to make you a more versatile singer
- Opens up opportunities as a competitor
- Makes is easier to participate and collaborate with other musicians
If you want to beef up your music theory knowledge, ask your vocal coach for help and resources. If possible, learning an instrument, like the piano, is a great way to learn music theory at the same time.
If you’re interested in learning another instrument, we offer a variety of lessons at Northwest School of Music, including piano, guitar, violin, cello, and more.
#10: Be a Part of Your Song Selections
Think about the kinds of songs you want to sing and share those ideas with your instructor.
Sometimes a voice instructor will choose particular songs because they want to help you practice certain techniques or expand your repertoire. And maybe those songs aren’t your favorites. That’s okay. You may find you enjoy a particular song the more you practice it.
Trust your instructor’s choice of music, but don’t be afraid to let them know the types of songs you’d really like to sing.
At Northwest School of Music, we want to help you meet your goals and enjoy the process, so you’ll have lots of flexibility in song style and choice.
#11: Practice for Permanence
You’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Maybe, maybe not.
We prefer to say, “Practice makes permanent.”
That’s because there’s no such thing as perfection — there’s always something we can improve on — even in an amazing performance.
So rather than focusing on perfection, we like to think of our practice time as a time to solidify skills and techniques so those skills can be used over and over again.
When practicing at home, work on permanence rather than perfection. Practice often, if not daily, for short periods of time, making sure to include warming up your voice.
Practicing and going to lessons are all good, but eventually, you want to show off what you’ve learned in a performance.
There are all kinds of opportunities to perform, including concerts, recitals, and singing in church or school. Choosing one of these venues gives students a goal to work toward, keeps them motivated, and provides lots of great experience.
#13: Have Fun
Enjoy the process.
If you’re not having fun or if lessons become drudgery, change things up. Communicate well with your instructor and let them know how you’re feeling.
A good voice teacher will know how to alter your experience to keep things enjoyable.
Northwest School of Music: Offering Voice Lessons With Technique, Vocal Health, and Fun in Mind
Northwest School of Music is the #1 choice for music lessons in Oregon, and for good reason:
- We teach a variety of lessons, including:
- And more
- Our instructors are qualified, educated, and experienced.
- We are the only school in Oregon that offers the Music Ladder System.
- There are no complicated contracts, annual materials fees, or semester minimums.
Getting started is easy, and when you register online, your first session is free.