As the most personal of all instruments, the voice can be a powerful tool for creating music that inspires others. Talented singers have the ability to motivate listeners to push through a difficult time, entertain and delight audiences, or even bring people to tears with their voices. To become a great singer with this level of ability, many vocalists do the following eight things.
1. They use effective warm-ups.
Just as a professional athlete does not participate in a sport without stretching his or her muscles beforehand, a professional singer does not begin to sing without first performing vocal warmups. Warmups make it easier for the singer to hit the higher and lower notes in his or her range, prevent damage to the voice, and strengthen the muscles around the singer’s vocal folds, leading to more control over the sound they produce.
2. They follow a healthy diet.
What a vocalist eats and drinks can have a significant impact on the sound quality of his or her voice. Great singers make a point of drinking a large amount of water, which helps keep the vocal cords hydrated. They also avoid excessive alcohol consumption and limit the amount of caffeine that they drink, as both substances dry out the body and constrict the blood vessels within the throat.
In addition to avoiding certain beverages, serious vocalists may refrain from consuming dairy products before a performance, as these foods can cause excess mucus to build up in the throat. In general, master vocalists attempt to eat a healthy diet that is low in sodium and rich in vitamins A, C, and E—all of which contribute to the maintenance of healthy mucus membranes.
3. They have good speaking habits.
Professional singers have to think about vocal cord care any time they are using their voice—not just when they’re performing. Master vocalists know that certain speech habits should be avoided when possible, including heavy coughing, long bouts of shouting or talking at an elevated volume, and speaking in a very low tone.
Great vocalists also avoid singing when they are sick. During an illness, a singer’s voice is already unlikely to reach peak performance, since the vocal cords are inflamed and irritated. Choosing to sing when the throat is already raw will not only diminish the quality of sound, but can also cause additional damage, prolonging the healing process unnecessarily.
4. They get plenty of sleep.
The vocal cords need rest like any other part of the body, and the best singers make an effort to stick to a healthy sleep schedule. Getting an average of eight hours of sleep per night helps singers fight off vocal fatigue and allows them to consistently perform at a high level, even when their schedules require them to perform on a daily basis. Those who wish to give their vocal cords enough rest should try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night in order to wake up fresh and ready to warm up the next day.
5. They don’t skip practice.
No vocalist can have a well-developed talent for singing if he or she avoids practicing. Though some people are born with a natural aptitude for singing, recent studies show that practice can have a greater impact on a person’s performance quality than raw ability alone. In addition to regular practice, great singers also spend their practice time efficiently, choosing to focus on additional areas outside the development of a repertoire. They dedicate time to mastering specific vocal techniques that challenge them and put their abilities to the test. Great singers avoid exclusively using their practice sessions to run through the same songs every time.
6. They display the correct breathing techniques and posture.
Accomplished singers have mastered the ability to manipulate their breath to create power and control their voices when performing. To support the breath, singers must also know how to assume the correct physical posture during a song in order to create a clear pathway between the diaphragm and the vocal cords. Straight posture that elongates the spine prevents the diaphragm from locking and allows the stomach to expand further, bringing more oxygen into the lungs.
7. They use their ears.
Becoming an adept singer means more than just knowing how to manipulate one’s vocal cords for optimal sound. Talented singers also know how to use critical listening skills to gauge their sound both while they’re singing and while listening to their recorded performances. Active listening allows singers to hear and adjust vocal elements in the moment, including pitch, tone, and volume, to better suit the accompanying music. The ability to accurately hear and adjust one’s own singing can be honed through ear training.
8. They stay confident.
When it comes to great vocal performances, confidence is crucial. Without confidence, singers have a tendency to be demonstrably affected by nervousness, which can manifest in a shaky voice that may fail to reach the quality that a singer is typically capable of producing. Great vocalists recognize that the practice they have put into their craft and the unique beauty of their own sound are worth sharing with people. They work toward confidently delivering strong performances while enjoying themselves in the process.