Your Voice is an Instrument – Vocal Training Tips

The quality of your music depends on your vocal health. Follow these vocal training tips to maintain the health of your vocal chords.

In episode four of our “Sound Advice” series, we sat down with audio engineer + producer, Shorne Callahan to talk a bit more about recording vocals and how important it is to treat your voice as if it was an instrument. The quality of your music depends on your vocal health. Before your session, you should be warming up your voice, eating the right foods, and staying away from smoking + drinking alcohol.

For invaluable insights and firsthand wisdom on vocal training tips, we turned to renowned vocal artists, Michaela Paladio and AYAM, who generously shared their personal techniques for training and prepping for studio sessions. Their experiences offer a wealth of guidance for fellow artists looking to elevate their vocal prowess and produce outstanding music.

Vocal Training Tips

The state of your vocal health can either make or break your performance. You should never abuse your voice. Healthy vocal cords will allow you to exercise your full range and produce a pure sound. Irritated or inflamed vocal cords won’t close efficiently, preventing you from hitting the higher notes in your range and producing a rougher, more breathy sound, no matter what note you’re singing. Here are some basic tips on how singers can maintain their vocal health:

Proper breathing is essential when you’re learning how to sing better. Breathing should come from your diaphragm, and not from your throat or chest. Breathing properly also helps with stress relief and increases focus.

Drink water throughout the day and keep a water bottle nearby during practice. When fully hydrated, your vocal folds become more elastic. Dry vocal cords quickly become irritated vocal cords. The more water you drink, the better your voice will be.

Posture plays a significant role in developing a strong vocal range and learning how to improve your singing voice. Air flows through your body when you are singing; so, by sitting or slouching, you are stopping your diaphragm from fully expanding. 

Recording your practice sessions allows you to objectively evaluate your progress and identify areas for improvement. It’s a valuable tool for self-assessment.

Develop your ear by practicing pitch recognition and interval exercises. This will help you stay in tune and harmonize effectively.

Singing different genres and styles can broaden your vocal range and versatility. Experiment with various songs to challenge yourself.

Your confidence can be heard in your singing. If you don’t like your sound, figure out what you can do to improve it. Keep practicing until you become comfortable with your voice. Confidence will also make you a better performer. 

You can have a nice singing voice without taking lessons but working with a vocal coach can help you explore and refine your talent by teaching you techniques without harming your voice. 

Yes, these affect your voice!

In addition to basic vocal health tips such as staying hydrated and properly warming up, here are some things that you may not know have an effect on your voice:

When your body is tired, your voice is tired too, and will be fatigued much faster. Singing while experiencing vocal fatigue will eventually damage your voice, resulting in a lack of clarity, loss of volume, and diminishing tone quality.
Coffee contains caffeine, and while caffeine has a pleasant way of “perking up” the day, it’s a diuretic, which means it’ll dehydrate you and leave you with dry, irritated vocal cords.
It’s important to limit foods that can hinder your vocal performance, including dairy, spicy foods, fried foods, and anything particularly fatty. Not only can they increase phlegm in your throat, but they can also cause vocal cord inflammation.
smoking + drinking alcohol
When you inhale smoke, you’re essentially bathing your vocal cords in toxins. Everything you breathe in passes right over your vocal cords, drying them out and irritating them. Alcohol might not have such an immediately damaging effect, but it is dehydrating and inflammatory.
clearing your throat
Clearing your throat makes your vocal cords violently smack together. This will cause your vocal cords to swell and lead to a strained sound and vocal fatigue. If you feel as if you need to clear your throat out, resist the urge to do so and try an alternative such as sipping water or caffeine-free warm tea.

Prepping Your Vocals Before Recording

Preparing yourself to sing is a matter of caring for your vocal cords, warming up your voice, and learning your material. We discussed what factors affect your singing voice and ways you can get the best, cleanest sound when you record. To sum it all up, just make sure you’re following the rules below leading up to your session to get the most out of your vocal performance.

With the help of insights from performing vocal artists, Michaela and AYAM, and producer Shorne Callahan, you should be able to keep your voice healthy and performing at its best. It’s important to keep in mind that these tips will help singers who are already regularly practicing and working towards improving their voices. You got this!

"Before performing and/or recording at the studio, I will usually hit a workout session to aid with breathing, then drink hot tea with lemon, ginger, & honey to relax my vocal cords."
-Michaela Paladio

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