Singing is truly a talent. Lots of people can sing but if you want to take your singing to the next level, you need to learn the proper skills.
After all, talent needs to be developed too. Talent is good but to reach greatness, you need to work on it. Whether you are a bathroom singer or someone opening at the Sakifo Festival, these tips are bound to take your game to the next level. Soon you’ll be running around the stage with a wireless microphone and slaying the crowd.
How To Have A Strong Singing Voice
Breathing, diaphragmatic breathing is easily learned. But don’t overlook this one. A strong singing voice needs strong support.
While breath support is very important to singing, some singers have been taught that the voice comes solely from the diaphragm.
Often times these singers will try to force large amounts of air from the diaphragm. Some singers
Pushing forcefully from the diaphragm is not good singing technique and will cause your voice to only be loud and shout. Singing in this way will cause you to sound more like someone screaming at a game.
Even a powerful tone takes only relaxed support from the diaphragm. By the way, we are talking about the diaphragm in your throat, not in your studio monitors. Just so we’re clear.
It’s important to note that the diaphragm is NOT directly controlled when singing. Doing this is a diaphragmatic attack and is an inferior method of singing. The diaphragmatic attack was invented by a FAILED opera singer many decades ago who then became a vocal coach.
He came from a family of famous singers who he could never live up to. So, he studied voice and came to some very wrong conclusions about singing. Unfortunately those conclusion were adopted by some schools of Italian singing and then past down through the ages. The diaphragmatic attack has ruined many voices.
If you are using any singing instruction that tells you to: “sing from the diaphragm, push with your diaphragm, hold air in your belly, pretend to poop/tighten your sphincter or sing like you are shouting at someone across the street who is breaking into your car,” then throw it away.
It is bad for your voice and will damage it and just make you sound like you are shouting. Singing is not shouting extended. The people who spout this nonsense don’t know what they are talking about. Frankly, coaches who teach this method should be ashamed of themselves because, “singing from the diaphragm,” ruins a singers voice and sucks all the beauty and power out of it.
Singing with power and range isn’t about pushing and forcing air or muscling your voice. If it was famous artists who sing well, well into their senior years wouldn’t be able to sing at all.
When you attack the voice from the diaphragm intentionally, it unbalances your voice and overpowers the breath support. The air flow is behind your voice like a bellows pushing it forcefully when you push from the diaphragm.
You do need breath support. But, you are not supposed to consciously think about it or control it. It happens as a natural response or reflection when you learn to sing with the attack of the mask.
The breath support happens as a reflection and because of this is instantly balanced to what you need with no overpowering. The breath flows at the onset of singing instead of forcing it from the bottom up, behind the voice. The result is a supported, powerful tone that sounds relaxed and released and has a round, resonant, pleasing tone.
So, when you watch a great singer and see their belly or diaphragm wavering or compressing they are not controlling that, that is a reflection to a voice produced with the superior method of controlling the voice with the mask.
Which would you rather have? A voice production technique that requires lots of effort and strain? Or, a voice production that is as easy and a resonant hum?
Have you noticed that good singers look like singing is almost effortless for them? Have you noticed the not so good singers look likely the are lifting heavy weights and straining? The difference is the effortless singers, sing using the attack of the mask and the ones that strain use the diaphragmatic attack.
Cord adducting, if you can’t zip up, or shorten your cords, there is no way you will be able to hit high notes in your range without pushing up chest and straining.
Again, singers do not consciously control their vocal cords. But, by attacking the voice through the mask the vocal cords are stabilized and perform as they should.
By attacking the voice from the mask everything in the throat and larynx is instantly relaxed. Clenching and straining in the throat when singing disappears.
Do you want to learn a singing technique that lets you forget about what is happening in the throat and larynx? A technique that makes everything in the throat work correctly? That technique is the attack of the mask.
Smoothing out the bridges, When you attack the voice production with the mask there are no registers in the voice. There is no chest, middle or head voice. Breaks disappear instantly when singing through the mask. The tone production is round and resonant and has a pleasant forward tone that is velvety.
Breaks and bridges are produced by inferior singing methods such as singing from the diaphragm or using the registration method. In the registration method singers think of the voice in terms of head and chest voice and then think they have to mix those two registers into a middle voice to sound commercial.
This is often attempted by singing trigger phrases such as, “Mum or Nay,” with different tone qualities. It can sometimes work well, but more often than not leaves the singer with the feeling they are wandering around tonally with their voice trying to accidentally fall into a pleasing forward tone.
This is why coaches that support the registration method think there are registers. When they find mask placement it sounds forward and resonant and part of the voice seems to resonant forward through the nose, so they call that middle voice and say it is the, “commercial tone.”
When the voice isn’t placed in the mask and in lower tones they would call that chest voice. When the voice isn’t placed strongly in the mask and high notes are sung they call that pure head voice.
However, when a voice is placed within the mask all notes sung, from lowest to highest have a pleasing resonant, forward quality to them. This is the earmark of, “commercial,” sounding voices and great singing in general.
Registration and, “mixing,” is all a bit of nonsense. Singers do not mix their chest and head voice to get middle voice. Registration and mixing are terms and devices invented by coaches that don’t know how to teach students how to place their voice into their mask at all times.
The best singers always use the attack of the mask because it produces the best possible vocal tone in any voice. Has a wide, powerful range and makes singing as easy as a strong resonant hum.
Which seem like an easier, more natural approach to singing?
- Attacking the voice from the mask and having low to high notes resonate pleasantly foreword.
- Or, like the registration method…..Low notes resonate mostly in the chest, then at some imaginary point somehow switch from chest voice and blend chest voice with your head voice, which supposedly resonates in the head. In other words as you go higher or lower in pitch, constantly think about blending and registration or supporting from the diaphragm ……….having to think about all the things that happen by reflex when you sing with the attack of the mask.
Larynx control, to have total control over your tone and make it full or thin as desired, you need to have the ability to control the position of your larynx while singing.
A larynx that rises as you sing is sure sign that you use the wrong muscles when you sing.
Some misinformed vocal coaches will tell you that simply training at a talking level and making sure your larynx does not rise will develop your voice. Simply relaxing so your larynx doesn’t rise will not cause placement in the mask and resonance. Freeing up the throat and larynx does nothing if you still aren’t taught the attack of the mask.
Resonance, some courses/books on singing claim that resonance is merely an amplification of the sound from the vocal cords, that is it something that just happens.
This is simply not true.
You will not achieve forward resonance or placement into the mask simply by relaxing, keeping your larynx from rising, and singing at a speech level.
There are very specific parts of the body that need to be controlled in certain ways for resonance to be purposely directed forward into the mask. Singing with forward placement in the mask is what produces the most pleasing voice in any singer.
To sing like a pro you not only need to have resonance but have the ability to focus it wherever you want. For this to happen, you need to learn how to manipulate your resonance to create a variety of unique textures to apply to your singing.
The Three most common problems in Voice Production are:
- Singing with an inferior attack. There are three attacks in singing. The Diaphragmatic. The Glottal. The Attack Of The Mask. The best voice in a singer is produced using The Attack Of The Mask. Almost all vocal production problems, such as breaks and a limited range are because of not using the Attack Of The Mask. The other two attacks are inferior and quite simply bad for a singers voice.
- No placement. The attack of the mask causes placement. If a singer isn’t using the attack of the mask they will have no forward placement or resonance. Any resonance will be a happy accident and forced. Placement in the mask makes the voice easy to use and have ear pleasing upper harmonics.
- Unbalanced breath support. An unbalanced breath support is usually due to singing using the diaphragmatic attack and or approaching singing like extended shouting. Some singers sound good using this method because they have natural range or some natural mask attack. But, then they unbalance their voice by pushing and forcing with the diaphragm.
This causes the voice to tire easily and usually sound very shouty and more like they are bellowing. You will see this often on shows like American Idol when a singer tries to sing loudly their voice suddenly flattens out very badly in tone quality.
It gets louder but sounds worse. If the singer had a strong grasp on mask attack they would focus more into the mask and get much, much louder but still keep the pleasant upper harmonics in their voice. You CAN NOT shout your way to a great voice.
Karaoke Singing Syndrome
I’ve taught many students who could sing well from the start, tonal wise, but when they attempted to sing something of their own creation their voice fell apart.
This is due to the fact that they never sang on their own before, it was always along to another singers voice. They end up depending on this like a crutch. Singing along to another singer is one of the worst ways to train your voice.
Singing Songs Before You Develop Your Voice
I have become aware that their are a few systems out there that claim they can develop your singing voice by having you sing famous artists songs.
This is the worst way to develop your voice. If you could do it that way, all you would have to do is buy a karaoke machine and go at it.
Songs only go over a given number of pitches, so you will see no vocal development from singing songs other than development of personal style. Which is easily developed after you have control of your voice.
And if you can already sing the song what good does it do your voice to sing it?
None at all.
Before singing songs, a singer should learn how to get through his or her registers without breaking and hit the high end of his or her range without pushing. Otherwise, you end up practicing bad habits that will hold back range development or even hurt your voice.
More often than not, even famous singers have poor technique that is covered up by studio magic, or the fact that the singer could sing the song in the studio over and over until it was just right.
Trust me on this. Like many performers, I myself used to be guilty of this. I spent the first two years of my development trying to sing along to tapes and CDs because scale work that my coaches tried to get me to do was not nearly as fun as singing along to songs.
But, I came to the realization that this did nothing for me and started finding specialized exercises that trained my voice to do what I wanted it to.
Scale work may be boring, but done the right way, with the right exercises will result in very quick development of the voice. For scale work to be effective you need to directly learn the attack of the mask and place your voice. Simply singing Ah, mum or no to a scale does nothing for your voice without first learning the attack of the mask.
Within a month of that, my vocal range grew more in a month then it did in the previous two years.
So, if all you want to do is sing karaoke, and probably sound bad at it, train by singing songs.
Chronic Fatigue, or Tightness Of The Cords (Tightness In The Throat And Or Larynx When Singing)
Even a good singer will experience these if they don’t do the proper warm-ups and warm downs.
But, for those who already have these problems, do vocal exercises that will massage and loosen your vocal cords to get them back to a healthy state that can be worked with. This alone results in reclaimed range or an increase to a range that you may have never sang before.
Overpowering Your Singing
Many untrained singers are guilty of this. Most often, singers pull up chest voice to create sound and don’t know how to make a resonant powerful tone without forcing excess air out. You need to learn how to hit the same pitch, both powerfully and gently with very little physical effort.
Singing Off Pitch
Singing on pitch once you sing using the attack of the mask is very easy. There are only a few reasons someone can’t sing on pitch.
Either they are singing using the wrong attack or they have not allowed themselves to absorb and hear the tones first before attempting them while doing scale work or they have not even done scale work.
Assuming That Because You Can Sing In A High Pitch Your Voice Sounds Good
I’ve seen a lot of this on the TV show American Idol that is now so popular. Particularly with the people that got rejected. Many of the people that got cut, broke horrendously into head voice when they went for a high note. They had no placement forward into the mask.
They sounded silly, like church choir singers, trying to sing R&B. Unfortunately, what happens is people assume that because they can sing on pitch in the car to the radio, that they sound good on their own. You can be on pitch and still sound bad.
When Paula Abdul tells one of the contestants that they went off pitch or sound pitchy, what she really means, although I don’t think she knows it, is that the singer broke into head voice when they should have hit the same pitch with a more tonally solid voice placed in the mask.
What these singers lack is the ability to shorten their cords and properly place their tone so their voice breaks into an unplaced head voice register, instead of blending it, because their is no mask placement.
Limited Range Or A Weak Singing Voice
Again, this has to do with cord shortening and a voice resonantly place in the mask. If you have no mask placement, you have to force your chest voice and shout the voice out. Singing with this wrong approach, you hit a wall and your range is limited.
The same applies to having a weak voice. People who sing very airy or gently and break apart if they try for a more powerful tone, simply don’t have good control over cord adduction and mask placement.
Because when they try for a full tone, they have not trained their cords to withstand the air flowing over them in a shortened position and the cords break apart. Mask placement causes the vocal cords to adduct and shorter where they should by reflex action. Without placement it doesn’t happen.
You can’t expect someone else to do it for you. The best singers understand the voice and know how to train themselves. No matter how good a vocal coach is, they can’t be there all the time.
And even if they could, you very likely couldn’t afford it. If you truly want a star quality voice, you have to approach voice like an instrument. It can either be played poorly, with no fault of the instrument or it can be mastered and played with a stunning quality.
Singing High Notes
Of all the things singers worry about and train for hitting high notes is usually at the top of the list.
Many singers have misconceptions on singing high notes. Here are a few of them.
Remember forcing more air does not make the pitch higher.
Many uninformed singers assume more air = higher pitch. These are people who push. Consequently they lack relaxed harmonic overtones (upper head resonance) and their voice sounds very shouty.
More like someone screaming at a game.
Again some people use pushing to add volume. True you need more pressure to get louder. But, you only need so much.
There comes a point where you need resonance and a relaxed voice to do the rest of the amplifying.
Plus no matter how strong you are you can only push so much for loudness.
Singers who don’t know how to get loud with the proper pressure and resonance quickly go hoarse and lose their voice.
Loudness comes from resonance and your voice being open and relaxed against the correct pressure.
You have to find the right balance. So forcing for power will actually cut off your range and you will never reach that high note.
The more relaxed you are the higher your voice can go.
Another common misconception is that you can work on just hitting high notes and every note under that will be easy to hit and have nice quality of tone. If you do this at best you will be able to hit some high notes and that’s it.
At the worst you will tire out your voice very quickly and lose it.
A singer needs to work their entire range. Working the low end of your range brings depth of tone to your high end and working your high end brings in harmonic overtones to your low end.
If you listen to singers who have a very wide natural range closely, you will notice that on the low end of their range it is very full and rich and relaxed with no hint of a ceiling.
A different singer who only knew how to sing in that low end would sound as if they had a definite ceiling and maybe even reaching to try to get the resonance just for the low pitches.
So, if you only want to sing low because you like creed, or pearl jam still work on your high end it will make your low end that much better.
“If you are a bass, a man or have a naturally low voice you can’t hit high notes.”
Not true, you just need to learn to get into your head voice. Someone with a low bass voice usually has long thick cords.
So, to get them to stretch and zip takes more training, there is more there to train.
Very low bass singers usually take more time to get over their bridge.
Bass singers have longer cords and the possibility of a wider range.
Where as a person with a higher voice has shorter cords and a naturally higher range and will find it easier to blend and make it over the bridge.
But the person with the shorter cords will never be able to sing as low as a bass and have that depth in their tonality.
So, you can see there is advantages to both.
Another misconception is trying to keep the same feel/resonant quality on super high notes that you have on bass notes or a very thick chesty mid tone.
Singing super high notes is a much lighter resonant feeling. When singing really high notes most of the resonance is felt up through the head like a very strong hum.
Learning the Attack of the Mask makes singing high powerful notes a breeze.
Just how does someone develop their voice? It should be obvious that simply singing along to your favorite singer doesn’t develop a singing voice otherwise everyone would be able to sing well.
To actually train a voice properly specialized voice exercises are used.
The purpose of the exercises is to train the various aspects of voice to be used properly by the singer and to build vocal agility and endurance. More importantly though any exercises you do should instill the, “attack of the mask,” for all of your singing. If you are using a course that does not teach this concept, then you are wasting your time.
When you learn the attack of the mask the singing voice gets developed very quickly. Usually within a matter of weeks and somtimes even within just a few days of practice. If you’ve been going to vocal lessons or using some course for months or even a year or more and still can’t sing well, it is because the course or coach doesn’t teach the attack of the mask.
The voice doesn’t need to be built up like body building, where it takes years to go from having no physique to having huge muslces. You need to coordinate your voice into using the attack of the mask. The attack of the mask is the secret to really singing great. Anyone who says different doesn’t know what they are talking about.
The correct vocal exercises are sort of like training wheels for the voice. They coorodinate your voice into the the easiest way to sing.
Be careful though, some exercises taught wrong are actually harmful to a singers voice development.
Or don’t really do anything. Or are claimed to do more than they really do.
A common myth floating around the internet is that, “lip bubbles,” are all you need to do to increase your range.
A few articles infer that these alone will enable you to hit high notes. It is true this exercise will help to increase your range, but only because what it really does is allow the vocal cords to function without involvement from the larynx muscles.
You can do lip rolls and tongue trills until you are blue in the face. If you don’t know how to attack your voice specifically and directly into the mask these exercises won’t make you sing any better.
Without the attack of the mask any trigger phrase sung is basically useless. Singing, “mum,” in a breathy tone or “nay,” in a nasal tone without knowledge of how to attack the voice from the mask is doing nothing but wasting your time and frustrating you.
Lip rolls and tongue trills and trigger phrases with tone adjustments only temporarily help the voice. If you continue with bad singing habits, you undo this and never really gain range from this exercise alone. Without learning the attack of the mask all the time training using trigger phrases is wasted.
With vocal exercises the main rule is if it hurts, stop. You are doing it wrong.
Singing should always be easy and relaxed, even for powerful singing and high notes.
Great singers don’t have anything physically different than someone who doesn’t sing. They have simply trained correctly and practiced these learned techniques often.
There are voice exercises for everything from breath support to singing high notes.
It should be no surprise that singers who take special care of their vocal health have more consistent voices and much longer careers.
As a singer your body is your instrument.
If you do vocally abusive things like shouting forcefully at a game or habitual drinking and smoking then you will quickly have no singing voice.
The number one tip as far as vocal health is to drink a lot of water and avoid things like coffee and soda.
The fact is most people think that they are drinking enough water and are not. This is very true for many singers as well.
Even slight dehydration can impede a vocal performance.
You should also consider environmental factors and diet. These can also have a big impact on the quality of your voice.
Vocal health is an aspect of singing overlooked by a lot of singers. Without the right vocal health care training is of little use.
It’s sort of like lifting weights and expecting to get muscular without the right diet for recovery.
Much has been said about the vocal cords in reference to singing. Some coaches/techniques act as if the vocal cords are purely responsible for the singing voice.
All the vocal cords do is create the initial pitch. The actual singing voice is a combination of the resonation in the cavities of the singers body, and proper support.
Without the rest of the it the vocal cords would not sound very musical.
The vocal cords create the initial pitch by vibrating as air passes over them.
As a singer goes up in pitch the vocal cords begin to stretch. At some point they should not be stretched any more and instead should be zipped up or compressed. Much like fretting the string on a guitar to get a higher pitch.
With a guitar string you can either tighten the string to go up in pitch, or fret (zip up).
If you tighten too much the string snaps.
While your vocal cords won’t snap, you can damage them by stretching when you should be compressing or zipping your vocal cords.
Unlike guitar however a singer can’t see their vocal cords, so they have to learn how to zip up the vocal cords through proper technique and feel.
This is done by learning to attack the voice through the mask. When the voice is attacked through the mask everything below it, breath support, larynx muscles and vocal cord position happens by reflex and gets instantly balanced.
Pitch, not to be confused with tone, is the actual value of the note sung. For example A, A sharp, or B.
Often times someone talking of voice or even music use the terms pitch and tone as if they were the same thing.
They are not. Pitch as stated above is the actual value of the note. Tone is how thick, full, shrill the note is.
So, when someone say’s something like, “Your voice sounds pitchy,” it’s a sure sign they know very little about music or voice.
Also, some singers and coaches make a big deal about singing on pitch and a lesson will consist of nothing than them hitting keys on the piano or a midi controller and telling the singer when they are off key.
This is ridiculous. Because, you can be perfectly on pitch and still sound very bad if your vocal production is bad and you have yet to learn to attack and placement of the voice.
Being able to sing on pitch comes easily after a singer learns proper vocal production.
Pitch training should not be worked on before a natural vocal production is in place.
Most singers will never have a problem singing on pitch if they are singing correctly and won’t require extra training to do so.
Tone, not to be confused with pitch, is how the quality or timbre of a note sounds. That is, is the sound of the note full, shrill, thick, piercing, etc.
It’s important to point out that a singer can be perfectly on pitch but have a horrible sounding tone.
Singing on pitch is not an end all.
Many things influence the tone of a singers voice.
Things such as:
- Physical make up of the singer.
- Good or bad technique.
- Singing forcefully or relaxed.
- What attack or technique the singer uses.
- Where the larynx sits while singing.
- Proper or improper breath support.
- Style the singer is going for.
- Tone ideals of the singer.
- Good vocal tone is mostly the result of a singer having a relaxed yet focused resonance.
Resonance is the most important factor in determining if a singers voice sounds fabulous or flat.
Resonance is responsible for making the voice easily loud. Resonance makes the upper range easily accessible.
It is responsible for harmonic overtones.
It can’t however be forced.
Once you force it you actually cut it off. You can’t achieve a free resonant tone by pushing from the diaphragm, trying to honk through the nose or trying to shout out the tone.
You may have read another book on singing that stated resonance was simply an amplification of the sound the vocal cords produce.
This is simply wrong.
Resonance is a secondary harmonic pitch produced in the upper cavities of the head.
So, the sound the vocal cords make and the Resonant pitch, work harmoniously to produce the full sound of the voice.
Without resonance a singer will be told things like, “you need to project more,” or, “You’re voice is very throaty.”
The reason is, is that the sound the vocal cords produce on their own is a very small unmusical thing.
Without the upper harmonic resonation it’s like taking the body away from a violin and just leaving the strings. The strings would make a sound if struck but it would not sound musical at all.
If you are expecting upper harmonic resonance to happen simply because you sing with a relaxed larynx and an open throat, you will never achieve it.
To achieve upper resonance in the voice you need to learn how to attack your voice through the mask. You need to know specific techniques that direct your voice into the attack of the mask.
You are missing a big part of the equation if you don’t know how to achieve resonance in your voice through the attack of the mask.
Vocal Myths Debunked
Here are some singing myths that I would like to debunk.
In order to sing really high notes men have to sing in falsetto
This is simply not true at all. Men can learn to sing extremely high notes in a full voice without straining and pushing and without going into falsetto. Men that sing high notes in full voice are not singing in falsetto.
There is a distinct difference. To hear it, first listen to an artist that does sing high notes in falsetto, like Justin Timberlake. Then listen to someone who sings high notes in a full voice like Rob Halford or Geoff Tate or David Coverdale.
You have to be born with singing ability or have natural talent to sing well
There are two reasons some people think this. The first is that often times people go to a vocal coach or buy a course that doesn’t really teach them anything.
It just has them run through scales and go Ah, mum, Nay, without teaching them an attack or what to actually physically do when they sing. This leaves the singer to try and figure out the attack by ear which rarely, if ever, works.
The other reason is that most natural singers sing instinctively, so when asked they can’t really explain to you why their voice sounds good. They instinctively do the best attack, the attack of the mask.
But, can’t break it down into a step by step process to tell someone who can’t sing well how to do it. So, it makes it seem as if it’s something you have to be born with. This is completely false. You can break it down into a step by step process.
You should sing from the diaphragm
“Singing from the diaphragm,” is possibly the worst, “singing technique,” ever invented. The technique was just that, “invented.” It is not natural and makes your voice sound like you are shouting harshly.
This technique was invented by a failed opera singer, turned vocal coach, decades ago when opera was the most popular music and opera singers were considered the absolute best singers.
Garcia Jr invented it. He was a singer from a family of singers. His father was a vocal coach and his two sister were successful diva’s of their time. Garica Jr was a failure however and even booed off stage at one point for tremolo (unwanted wavering of the voice).
Garcia became obsessed with the function of voice. You would think his father could teach him. But, in the past singing instruction was only done by ear. A coach would sing and then have you sing. You were to produce the same quality of tone. If you didn’t he would sing again and say, “no more like this.”
If the vocal coach didn’t know what internal physical things to tell you to manipulate then the singer would be left to instinctively figure it out …..which rarely works well. What you need to do is learn the exact internal things you have to manipulate to sing well.
In Garcia’s obsession to find a way to sing he invented a scope to look at his vocal cords. Seeing them vibrate he came to the very wrong conclusion that singing is all based on air support. He further concluded that for great tone and resonance you needed lots of push from the diaphragm.
He then developed a school of singing on this premise, then proceeded to ruin many singers voices down through the ages as this erroneous information was passed down through ages.
Singing by pushing from the diaphragm puts your breath behind your voice and unbalances the breath support. It makes a tone that sounds more like bellowing and quickly tires the voice and can even damage the voice.
When you learn the best attack, the attack of the mask, breath support happens by reflex and is instantly balanced. It happens as it should at the same time the voice is produced, not from behind it, forcefully pushing it out.
You should sing like you are shouting at someone across the street who is breaking into your car
This is simply someone trying to teach, “singing from the diaphragm.” Extended shouting is not singing. Singing like this will quickly make you go hoarse and tire out your voice from an unbalanced vocal production. Some argue that to sing loud you need to, “sing from the diaphragm.” Again, this is simply wrong.
When you learn to attack the voice from the mask the voice flows out effortlessly and can get much louder then pushing from the diaphragm. When you attack from the mask the diaphragmatic action still happens. But, it is a reflex as it should be. It happens as you need it without thinking about it.
Singing with the attack of the mask makes singing feel like humming resonantly with your mouth open. It is very comfortable, easy to use and is the best way to sing, period. SINGING IS NOT SHOUTING EXTENDED! If you bought vocal instruction that tells you this, throw it out, it’s garbage.
Singing great takes years of practice
Singing with the ability of a vocal master, yes that takes years. A vocal master is someone who has a great range, great control of dynamics and has unbelievable skill. However, learning to sing well can be learned in just a few weeks.
When I say learn to sing well, I mean learn to sing at least as well as the commercial music currently on the radio and music television stations. The fact is most singers you hear now are not that skilled.
A few here and there have exemplary skills. Most, however, are mediocre compared to what a singer can do vocally after the right training and with continued practice.
I sing off key I must be tone deaf
There is no such thing as, “tone deaf.” You either can hear a tone or you can’t. You do not lose the ability to hear specific pitches. When you lose your hearing you lose the top or low end of your hearing range, the ability to hear extremely high notes or low notes at either end of your hearing range.
Not being able to distinguish one pitch from another close one is just lack of ear training or simply not paying attention. Singing off key is most often due to not having vocal ability, since the voice is not trained to match pitch at will.
Singing with the wrong attack or in forceful manner that is not natural will make the voice go off key as well because the singer is struggling. Also, often times when singers break and sing in falsetto someone may say they are singing off pitch, when in actuality they are not off pitch they just broke very badly and it sounded very funny.
There is a difference between being off pitch and just singing with a bad tone. Being on pitch does not automatically make singing sound good. You can be perfectly on pitch and still sound bad if your attack is wrong.
Learning to sing opera will enable you to sing any music style great
I’ve had this said to me by no less that five vocal coaches when I first started lessons. It’s simply not true. The reason some coaches say this is that that is what they were told. The coaches I heard it from were classically trained and had degrees in voice, which require that they sing Opera.
You can not learn to sing good by singing any one particular type of music style. Style is independent of good vocal production. When you learn the attack of the mask you can sing in any style of music you like and sound good. Your voice production will be based on your own vocal tone ideals. So, you will not sound like an Opera singer trying to sing R&B or a country singer trying to sing rock.
Singing great is dependant on breath support
Again this goes back to, “singing from the diaphragm.” It’s simply not true. Breath support or the wavering you might see in the diaphragm of a singer as they sing something powerful, is a reflex to a voice placed in the mask.
The singer is not consciously thinking things like, “Ok now I’ll take a deep breath to my belly and push,” or, “Now Ill tighten my sphincter and belt that high note out!” It just doesn’t happen like that. Again, if you are using instruction that tells you to, “sing from the diaphragm, push from the diaphragm, take air into your belly, sing like you are shouting at someone across the street,” throw it out it’s harmful garbage.
There are three registers of the voice, Chest, middle and head voice. A singer needs to navigate the registers without a noticeable break
Registers don’t exist. Period. The registration method of singing is an invention that came about because of bad vocal instruction and singers who use inferior attacks when they sing. A coach or singer who used the registration method will say things like, ” sing low notes in chest voice, then as you approach your break blend chest with head voice,” or ” to sing in a commercial tone you need to sing in middle voice.”
A coach who uses the registration method recognizes that the voice needs to be in the mask but calls that head voice or middle voice. When the singer is singing low notes, but not in the mask, they call that pure chest voice. When singing high notes, but not in the mask, they call that pure head voice or even falsetto.
They then proceed to tell you you need to mix the two. Quite simply this is ridiculous. You do not mix parts of your tone. To get different tones you just focus resonance more or less in a different areas of the mask by feeling, which is quite natural when you learn it.
The truth is that even the lowest bass note to the highest whistle notes all should be attacked from the mask.
When you attack the voice from the mask their are no breaks or registers. There isn’t even a bridge in the voice. These inventions simply disappear when your voice is attacked from the mask at all times.
The voice has a break between chest and head voice
Again there are no registers. You only produce breaks if your voice is not attacked from the mask. Most people don’t know how to sing using the attack of the mask. So, they sing with a lot of push. When you sing like this, to go beyond a certain point in pitch you have to break and sing in a very weak, “head voice,” or falsetto.
In order to sing commercial music you need to learn to sing in a mixed voice or sing in middle voice or mix chest and head voice
Again, ridiculous. There is no such thing as middle voice or even chest voice or head voice. The voice is all one instrument. All notes from the lowest to the highest can all be sung with pleasing, forward, commercial tone provided you learn to sing with the attack of the mask. Trust me no popular singer is thinking, “Ok I want to sound commercial for this R&B tune so I’ll mix my chest voice with my head voice to get a middle tone.”
You can only learn to sing if you have a personal coach
The right coach can help. But, if the only time you work on your voice is when you see your coach you are wasting your time. In order to learn to sing you need to practice 3-6 days a week to instil muscle memory in your voice.
If you sing at speech level your voice will work naturally well
Nope, sorry. The voice just doesn’t fall into place because you relax and sing at your speech level with a relaxed larynx. There are specific things in your body you need to manipulate in order for the voice to be produced at it best possible quality.
Resonance or the voice resonating in the head cavities is just an amplification of the pitch the vocal cords produce
Resonance is not just an amplification. Amplification is taking a given tone and producing the same tone louder. Resonance is a coupling of the initial pitch the vocal cords produce and the upper harmonic pitch resonation into the head chambers produces. It just doesn’t happen. You need to learn the attack of the mask to make it happen on command.
A pleasing forward resonance or commercial tone or placement of the voice will just happen if you sing with an open throat and relax
Simply not true. Resonance just doesn’t happen. You can create resonance by command. Not by accident.
Lip Rolls & Tongue Trills are a little known secret exercise that make your voice work great
Lip Rolls & Tongue trills are just nice warm ups. All they really do is get the vocal cords moving without interference from the larynx muscles. If you don’t specifically and directly learn the attack of the mask, you can do lip rolls and tongue trills until you are blue in the face and you will hear very little change in your ACTUAL singing voice. So good for warm up but that’s it.
You have to use a different vocal approach to sing different types of music
Nope, not true. The different tones you hear in singers is due to their tonal ideals and where their voice resonates. There are not vocal techniques that work well for only, rock or R&B or classical or country or pop.
If you learn to sing using the attack of the mask you will have a round, forward pleasing tone, which is the mark of all good singing regardless of style of music. How you shape that tone will be under your direct control and be a response to your tone ideal and music you are singing.
The Attack Of the Mask
Have you ever watched a great singer and noticed that their voice flows effortlessly and seems to resonate out through the mouth and behind the nose and or even up the back of the head?
Have you wondered if there was ever one really great secret to singing this well?
Well, there is. That secret is the attack of the mask.
What is the mask? The mask encompasses the soft and hard pallet, behind the nose and the eyes and front teeth and in extremely high or powerful notes up through the back of the head. These are places that a singer that attacks the voice from the mask feels strong resonant vibrations.
These strong vibrations become the control panel for the voice. Everything else below this happens very naturally by reflex. Breath support is instantly balanced. The vocal cords are stabilized and behave as they should and the larynx is at rest with no clenching in the throat. Singing with the attack of the mask feels like a very strong resonant hum with the mouth open and the throat relaxed.
The voice can be attacked through the mask in any range. The lowest bass notes to the highest whistle notes can be sung with the attack of the mask. Attacking the voice from the mask enables great range and power in a singer voice with the easiest possible production and sweetest tone.
The attack of the mask works for any style of music from screaming rock vocals to a very forward R&B tone. The attack of the mask makes every style of singing sound better. It produces the best tone possible in any singer that uses it.
It’s important to understand that you can’t not force this placement or resonation to happen. Shouting and trying to force air through the nasal passages will engage the larynx muscles and choke your voice off. You do no honk your way to mask placement. Truth is you can use specific exercises that will quickly teach you how to sing with placement in the mask.
Even powerful singing will be as easy as humming resonantly with your mouth open.
The Method to Learn How To Sing
There are only really three methods of teaching or learning singing.
The first method is to learn by ear without a coach or instruction.
Simply to sing along to other singers. This is a very bad way to learn to sing because as a singer you have to instinctively figure out the right attack.
Unless you already instinctively do the right attack, the attack of the mask, then you will be impersonating good technique with bad technique and harming your voice. Usually when singers do this they struggle for pitch and volume and use more air. Trying to learn in this way you may find that some days the voice comes out good when you sing along, but you don’t know a real attack so the next day you struggle again.
The other way to learn to sing is using trigger phrases coupled with variations on tone value and singing by ear to another singer.
You would do things such as sing, “mum,” with a yawn like tone or sing, “nay,” with a nasal tone just like a singer in an example did. This method can sometime work. However this method does not actually teach a direct attack.
With this method you may do an exercise as instructed and your voice comes out nicely one day, the next day you try the same exercise and it does nothing.
The reason is that the trigger phrases with variants of tone sometimes cause forward placement into the mask to happen as a happy accident.
What further complicates this is that you would probably listen to the example singer and try to mimic the tone with a bad attack and further hurt your voice. When trying to sing using this method the singer feels as if they are wandering around tonally with their voice and hoping it just catches.
This method of learning to sing is inferior as it doesn’t teach a direct and specific attack. Consequently, only singers who already instinctively do the attack of the mask may hear any real change in their actual singing voice.
Coaches who teach this method usually are proponents of, “singing from the diaphragm,” or “The registration method,” or , “Finding your middle voice.” All these methods are unnatural and don’t work very well.
The third and best way to learn how to sing is to directly learn the attack of the mask.
You need a very “step by step” way to make this happen. Use some trigger phrases. Don’t just sing,”mum,” with a breathy or yawn tone. Learn the exact attack.
You need to learn how to manipulate your body and how to approach singing so that your voice resonates forward into the mask and always has a pleasing tone. You can’t trick your voice into resonant forward placement by singing, “nay,” in a nasal tone or singing, “mum,” with a yawn like tone.
There are very specific things you need to learn that will place it there in just a few days of practice. When you attack the voice from the mask all singing feels as easy as humming resonantly with your mouth open. There are no register or breaks to worry about. Registers don’t exist. They are an invention taught by bad vocal coaches that don’t know how to teach a singer how to attack the voice into the mask.
How Does The Attack Of The Mask Work
There are three attacks or ways to sing. The attack is the onset of of the voice. It is what the singer physically thinks and does at very start of the sung tone.
The first attack and the most famous is the diaphragmatic attack. This attack pre supposes that the whole voice should be built upon breath. In this attack the singer does things like taking a lot air into the belly and squeezing the air our very forcefully. Sudden, “ha, ha, ha,” movement are used. Or, techniques like, “sing like you are shouting at someone across the street breaking into your car.”
This attack is very bad for your voice. It is a technique not based on how a good voice works naturally. It was invented by a failed opera singer/coach who invented a scope to look at his vocal cords and came to the assumption that more air was better because it made the vocal cords vibrate and that upper head resonance needed to be pushed and forced out.
Singers that use this method suffer from: Vocal fatigue after singing just a couple of hours….to the point where they may be hoarse even the next day, damaged voices and a strained production that often sounds loud but not pleasant. The tone from this attack often sounds very wooden and produced from the chest as it has little overtone.
The second attack is the glottal attack. This involves a sort of coughing that causes the vocal cords to zip up for higher tones. The problem with this attack is that it causes the whole throat and larynx to clench up.
So, the voice is literally squeezed through a throat that is forcefully held in a clenched position. This attack is painful and most people that do it very quickly stop because it hurts and causes the singer to produce an unwanted gritty tone, like someone who has been smoking cigarettes most of their life. The only singers who really use this are bad rock singers who scream very badly from the throat and sound like three year olds throwing tantrums.
The third attack is the attack of the mask. The attack of the mask is how the voice is meant to work. Singers who sing naturally well do this instinctively. It can however be very easily taught. You need to focus on the attack of the mask. When you sing with the attack of the mask the voice is free and easy to use. The tone is round, pleasantly forward and resonant. Singing feels as if humming with your mouth open, even on very high and or powerful tones.
It’s important to note that the attack of the mask is NOT forcing air through the nose and honking. The vibrations felt in the mask are resonation. This resonant placement becomes the control panel for a singer that knows how to attack the voice from the mask.
The attack of the mask can be used for any style of music, from screaming rock vocals, to light jazz or country or R&B. The attack of the mask produces the best possible vocal tone in any singer.
When you sing using the attack of the mask, breaks disappear instantly. There are no registers. There is no chest, head and middle voice. The whole voice resonates forward into the mask. Breaks and registers and the need to, “blend over the bridge area,” are things caused by inferior attacks and vocal instruction. They cause the breaks and registers and bridge areas they are seeking mastery of.
The lowest bass notes and the highest whistle notes are all sung best using the attack of the mask.
The attack of the mask causes breath support to happen by reflex. The wavering you may see in the belly of a great singer is not the singer consciously thinking of diaphragmatic support as the onset of the tone. This is a reflex to a voice properly placed in the mask. There is no conscious thought about how the diaphragm moves in the mind of a good singer.
In fact everything below the mask will happen by reflex. The throat will stay relaxed and open and the vocal cords will stabilize and vibrate and zip as needed. So, you can see how easy learning to attack the voice from the mask makes singing. Seriously, learning to attack the voice from the mask is where it’s at.
Don’t sing from the Diaphragm
You may have been on another site that offered some free instruction on singing and talked about singing from the diaphragm. They say things like, “sing like you are shouting across the street at someone breaking into your car,” or, “tighten your sphincter and pretend to poop.” This is what’s known as a diaphragmatic attack of the voice.
I’m sorry If I am again, kicking your teddy bear, but any course that promotes use of any of the techniques in the above paragraph are garbage and should be thrown out.
“Singing from the diaphragm,” is possibly the absolute worst vocal technique ever taught.
It is the creation of a failed opera singer, who created his own school of singing and has ruined many singers voice ever since.Click here to learn where diaphragmatic breathing came from.
Long story short, he created a vocal school. For one reason or another his techniques were passed down to other vocal coaches who didn’t know how to teach good singing either. It’s most likely that the real teachers didn’t want to give up their secrets. Also, often times singers don’t know how to put down in words how they do what they actually do. Before this technique came about all singing was done with the attack of the mask, as it should be.
When you attack the voice with the diaphragm on the onset, that is putting the breath support behind the voice instead of at the same time, it results in a voice that is pushed out, like shouting or bellowing. It will quickly tire and even damage a singers voice. Singing from the diaphragm is loud but it lacks relaxed harmonic overtones. So, it sounds forced and wooden.
You may have watched a great sounding singer and seen the diaphragmatic action. This however is not consciously done on the onset of the voice. This waver, pulsing or flexing of the diaphragm is a reflex action caused by a voice placed strongly in the mask.
The diaphragmatic action is not the onset of the voice it is the support for it. The support happens by reaction because of the attack of the mask at the same time a note is sung. It doesn’t squeeze and then push the voice up and out.
Have you even went to a sporting event and cheered on your team all night shouting their praises? Likely your throat was sore and you may have even lost your voice for some time. You weren’t even shouting the whole time, just bursts for a a minute or two sporadically over a couple of hours, yet your voice was probably still gone.
This is what singing from the diaphragm does to a singers voice. No amount of training balances, “singing from the diaphragm,” and keeps a singer from going hoarse and ruining their voice. It’s simply an unnatural vocal technique that sounds bad.
Attacking the voice from the mask causes breath support to happen by reflex and be perfectly balanced for the tone and loudness you are going for without overpowering the voice.
Attacking the voice from the mask causes singing to be as easy as humming with your mouth open, even for very loud powerful pitches. Even loud attacking from the mask doesn’t sound wooden like shouting. It still retains it’s harmonic overtone and pleasant round tone.
All of the worlds best sounding singers use the attack of the mask to one degree or another.
- Resonance and how it relates to tone and pitch: Many singers try to force or belt in an effort to achieve resonant tone, or just loudness. Resonance has to be trained with specific exercises so it comes out naturally and relaxed. Once focus of resonance is learned a great tone follows, as well as the ability to sing in a much higher range and be loud when needed, all with very little effort.
- The difference between high pressure singing and forcing your voice with lots of air: Singers often think that in order to be loud or sing high notes a singer uses a lot of air. What they are not understanding is that loud singing is the result of a combination of resonance and pressurizing the same amount of air, NOT using a larger volume of air and pushing it out with the diaphragm.
- How to achieve a relaxed resonance in your voice: Many singers realize they need resonance, but go about trying to achieve it the wrong way. Again, some singers try to push or belt air up into the resonant cavities of the head in and effort to achieve it. All this does is choke off the voice. Through specialized exercises you will learn to achieve resonance with little more effort than talking.
- Singing on pitch: Almost all singers don’t have a problem with pitch. What they have problems with is their voice production. A strained voice production with breaks in it, makes it difficult to stay on pitch in a wide range. Once you sing with ease learning to sing on key comes very easily.
- Smoothing out the Bridge/Break: Most singers have a break because of pushing chest and singing with too much force. When you learn to sing without pushing the break is very easy to navigate.
- Proper Warm Ups: When a singer does the proper warm ups their voice will work much easier. Often times singers hurt their voices by simply jumping into their most difficult songs without any warm up. It’s like suddenly sprinting without stretching. Warming up helps to keep a singer from injury and reinforce proper vocal production before singing.
- Breathing Exercises for those with trouble extending notes: Most coaches will tell you that if you learn to control the diaphragm for singing then you will have a great voice. That is total nonsense. Singing develops proper breathing for singing, working just on breathing does not develop singing. You do not need an extremely strong diaphragm to sing well. Again, if you sing relaxed it develops naturally. Although, for the people who have developed bad breathing habits or do a have problem, the course has breathing exercises if you need them.
Common Questions About Singing Voice
What do you think about software that tells you when you are on pitch?
It is a marketing gimmick. Most people don’t realize that you can still be perfectly on key and still tonally sound bad. Being on pitch says nothing about tonality or harmonic overtones or if the production of the voice is strained and will destroy your voice with repeated use of the production.
I was told that you have to be born with a good singing voice. Is that true?
No, definitely not, singing is just like lifting weights. Through proper training, your vocal ability grows. People think that you have to be born with a good voice because some people instinctively sing using the attack of the mask and because of this sing naturally very well. Other people who try to learn to sing often happen upon poor vocal coaches or programs or books that teach inferior methods of singing. You can learn to sing very well, even if you never sang before in your life, provided you use a a course that teaches the attack of the mask.
I was told that I was a bass and that after your voice changes you are stuck in whatever voice god gave you?
Not true, if you’re a bass, all that means is to hit higher ranges, you have to learn to shorten your cords because your cords are naturally longer. And because of this, you will have a wider range from top to bottom than a natural soprano.
I’ve sang for years in chest or head voice, is it possible for me to learn to sing in middle and smooth out my bridges and learn to sing without pushing? ?
You don’t need to, “smooth out the bridge,” or, “sing in middle voice.” You need to learn the attack of the mask. The attack of the mask eliminates all registers and breaks, it makes singing as easy and humming resonantly.
I sing naturally well and was told that lessons would ruin my voice?
This is a myth perpetuated by poor coaches that actually do ruin singers voices. Usually voices are ruined before they start by coaches that tell you to, “sing from the diaphragm,” and force high pressure singing on singers not ready for it. But, without the proper vocal instruction, even a natural singer will lose their voice one day because when something goes wrong they won’t know how to fix it.
Does age play a factor in learning how to sing well?
Even someone in their senior years can learn to sing well as long as they haven’t permanently damaged their vocal cords through smoking or abusive behaviors. As far as children go, if a child’s voice hasn’t changed yet, they might not be able to sing in a middle voice because their cords are simply not long enough yet. However, this does not mean that they cannot begin instruction. Proper instruction will teach them how to sing in a healthy, relaxed manner and prevent damage from poor vocal habits in the future.
I’ve damaged my voice through screaming, shouting or abusive habits, is it possible to fix it?
Through proper technique, and good habits, almost any damage can be overcome. The only thing that can’t be is polyps. If you have these, make as little sound as possible for a year and if you’re lucky, they will go away. If not, you’ll have to get surgery.