If you want to be a good singer you need to have the ability to hold a note for a sustained period. And you need to maintain control and quality of the note while singing it.
The good news is: it’s not that hard. An inability to sustain a long note is usually due to a problem with fundamentals. Improving your grasp of the basics will take care of the issue and boost your stamina instantly.
Read through the following 5 tips and put them into action. Do that and you’ll be able to hold even the longest of notes, no problem.
Learn To Adopt Good Posture
You’re never going to be able to hold a long note if your posture is bad. You need to stand (or sit) up straight, with your shoulders back and slightly down and your head level. Also, make sure to keep your knees bent just a tad. Never lock them, as it impedes blood flow.
Head here for help correcting your posture. Once you feel comfortable standing correctly, try singing a song you know well. Then sing the same song again while hunched over and compare the difference. See how much easier it is to sing when standing up straight? And the difference is even more pronounced for high notes and especially long notes. I’d venture to say it’s impossible to sustain a note for any amount of time without the proper posture.
Learn To Use Your Diaphragm
Your diaphragm is a muscle in your stomach that expands to suck in air and contracts to expel air. Although we often breathe using only our chest, we really should be breathing into our bellies, making use of our diaphragm. As singers, that is the only way to breathe. Using the diaphragm gives us much more power and stamina.
The first step is to identify your diaphragm. The easiest way to do this is to exhale as forcefully as possible. Did you feel a muscle squeeze hard just below your rib cage? That’s your diaphragm.
This article has some good exercises to help you practice breathing with your diaphragm. You need to get that down if you ever hope to sing long notes. Once you’ve got basic diaphragmatic breathing down, you can begin using the technique to sing notes. Start with short and low notes and move your way up to the higher and longer ones.
Learn To Control Your Breathing
A common reason beginning singers have a hard time with long notes is that they use far too much air to sing them. If you know how to control your breath while singing, you actually don’t need much air at all to sustain a note.
Head back to this section on breathing and do the exercises below the part on the diaphragm that you already completed above. That should help you with proper breath control. Now, whenever you are faced with a drawn-out note, you’ll be able to release air gradually and hold the note as long as you need.
And remember, you should never fill your lungs completely when singing. That just ends up overfilling them, which makes them react by pushing air back out. You want to inhale enough to expand your stomach somewhat, but not completely.
Learn To Do Lip Trills
Lip trills, also referred to as the trill technique, have you vibrating your lips like a little motorboat. It is not something you want to do in public, unless you are not self-conscious at all. Personally, I embarrass easily, so I only do it in private or with my students.
Lip trills are a common warm-up technique, so you may already be familiar with them. If not, I’ll cover how to do them in the next paragraph. The reason they help with long notes is that the amount of air you use for a gentle lip trill is about the same as the amount you need to hold a note.
To do a lip trill, blow air between your lips to make them vibrate. I like to make a sound as I do them, but it isn’t strictly necessary. I think it’s more effective with a sound, though, as it mimics singing. Cari Cole has a great video demonstrating lip trills. Check it out if you need some help.
Remember To Start Soft
If you’re struggling with a long note, don’t attack it head on. Start by singing it softly until you get a feel for it. Then gradually increase your volume and with it, the amount of air you expel. I would even suggest to just use a normal speaking tone to begin with. Make sure you can get it perfectly every time at your current volume, before moving up a step. Before too long, you’ll have no problem belting out that long note at your normal singing volume!