I was not a good singer when I was young.
I loved singing, but no one else loved it when I sang.
And I thought it would always be that way. I was told I could never have a professional singing voice.
That was false.
Anyone can become a good singer. You, too, can learn to sing.
Only a very small percentage of the population is actually tone deaf. The rest of us can learn how to sing better. All it takes is the right kind of practice.
The tips and techniques below will improve your singing.
Some of them are easy to implement and will have an immediate impact. Others take time to show improvement.
Go through this (admittedly very long) article and use it to create a routine of warm-up and singing exercises for yourself.
Keep practicing as much as possible and a few months from now, no one will believe you weren’t born with the voice of a professional singer.
In fact, you’ll actually see a marked improvement even just a few hours from now, if you implement some of the basic posture, mouth position and breathing tips and exercises.
Learn How To Sing Better: The Step-By-Step Guide
Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead)
The Importance of Good Posture
Most people underestimate the impact of posture on their singing voice. Correcting your posture is the easiest way to see an immediate improvement in your voice. Here’s why:
- Having a good posture makes it easier for the air to flow through your body when you are singing. Standing (or sitting) up straight allows your diaphragm to fully expand, so that it can take in as much air as possible and then release it to vibrate your vocal cords.
- Bad posture causes your body to tense up. When this happens, your throat actually closes up a bit, which can keep you from correctly hitting all your notes. Good posture makes it easier to keep your throat open and your tongue in the correct position. This also makes it much easier to correctly enunciate all your words.
- When you sing, your head needs to be level. If it is tilted, you will not be able to open your throat as well, making it harder to sing the correct notes and to go up and down in your register. Bad posture makes it difficult to keep your head level.
- Having good posture allows you to project your voice further.
- Correct posture makes it easier to hold your notes longer. With good posture you are better able to control your breathing, which is vital when you need to hold a note for several beats.
- During long performances, bad posture will put more strain on your body, leading to a sore back and/or legs. This makes it difficult to focus entirely on your singing.
- You use less energy when your posture is good. Try singing while bent over—do you see how much more effort is required?
- Having good posture has an immediate impact on your confidence. Try this: stand up straight and puff out your chest right now. Do you feel more confident? This results in a more powerful stage presence and will help you command attention.
Correcting your posture will have an immediate impact on your singing.
While you can have good posture while sitting down, it is much easier while standing. For that reason, I recommend standing up, if you want to learn how to sing better, at least in the beginning.
Correcting Your Posture
- Place your feet shoulder width apart and keep your knees unlocked
- Stand up straight with your head upright and your shoulders pulled back and down — imagine a string pulling you up from the top of your head
- Relax your muscles, especially your abdomen and your shoulders
- Additional posture exercises on this page from the University of Kansas.
This will probably feel strange at first and staying relaxed might seem impossible, but it will get easier.
Practice good posture every day, especially when singing, but also when doing vocal exercises or just warming up.
The voice is basically a wind instrument and breathing is 80% of singing.
Learning how to sing means learning how to breathe.
Breathing correctly will help you get a better tone and project your voice out to the crowd. Follow these steps to improve your breathing.
Learn to Breathe Using your Diaphragm
When singing, you want to breathe using your diaphragm, not your chest.
Only your abdomen should move. Breathing from your chest leaves you with insufficient air for the high notes.
- Practice by lying on your back with a book (or just your hands) on top of your abdomen. Breathe in so that the book moves up—the air should move in and out through your stomach. When doing this, breathe in through your nose and out through your nose and mouth.
- Fill your belly with air and focus on holding it for a second or two. Then slowly let the air out like a balloon. Use visualization to help you learn to move air in and out of your stomach.
- Now stand up try breathing deeply in the same way. Imagine a rubber band around your waist. Breathe in slowly through your nose and imagine pushing the rubber band outwards. Keep your shoulders relaxed and level; try not to raise them at all. Exhale slowly through your nose and mouth, while picturing the rubber band contracting again.
Once you’ve got breathing using your diaphragm down, it’s time to work on controlling your breathing.
You want to learn to be economical with your breath, so you never end up out of breath while singing. Try the following exercises.
- Practice inhaling quickly. When you sing, you need to fill your lungs with air quickly, so it is important to be able to do this. Fill your lungs fast, as you would if you were going to blow up an air mattress. Notice how your body feels when you fill it with air, so that you can easily replicate this when singing.
- Practice exhaling slowly. Pretend you are trying to keep a feather afloat and breathe out an even stream of air (you could even get a real feather to practice). Make sure that your abdomen deflates as you breathe out, not your chest.
- Practice exhaling slowly while making sounds. Get a belly full of air, then make an “s” sound while slowly exhaling. Try to keep the volume at the same level to practice controlling your breathing while singing.
- Now take it a step further. This exercise will help you monitor your breathing so that you can last through many beats. The key is to keep the hissing sound at an even volume throughout.
- Breathe in to the count of 4, then breathe out while hissing evenly, also to the count of 4.
- Next breathe in to the count of 6, then out to the count of 10.
- Next, in for 6, out for 12.
- In for 2, out for 12.
- In for 4, out for 16.
- In for 2, out for 16.
- In for 4, out for 20.
- In for 1, out for 20.
- Practice snatched breaths. Breathe in gradually, filling up your diaphragm in fractions.
- Breathe in 1/4 full on the count of 1.
- On 2, breathe in another quarter so your belly is half full.
- On 3, add another quarter.
- On 4, add the final quarter. You belly is now completely full.
- Breathe out gradually through the following counts: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
- Now, breathe in halfway on the count of 1.
- Finish breathing in on 2.
- Exhale gradually through 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
- Practice controlled breathing while making staccato sounds. Breathing evenly while making an “s” sound is fairly easy. Now try to do it while going through a series of staccato notes.
- Practice the “catch breath” technique. When singing, as soon as you end a note, stop your breath. Inhale if needed, just don’t keep breathing once the note is done. You want to learn to conserve air when you sing.
- Additional exercises. You’ll find a few more breathing exercises on the BBC website.
Using these singing techniques will help you learn to breathe using your diaphragm and to control your breathing so you never end up out of breath while singing.
This can take some time to get used to, so try to practice these techniques every single day, until breathing through your belly becomes second nature. You can’t learn how to sing better until you get your breathing right.
3. Warming Up Your Voice
Just like any muscle, your vocal cords need to be warmed up before use, in order to prevent injury.
Doing warm-up exercises is my number one advice for anyone learning how to sing better.
A good warm-up routine will help you sound your best, so you want to do the following warm up exercises every time you are going to be singing.
- Drink warm liquids. Ice-cold liquid will constrict your throat, so you want to avoid any cold drinks prior to singing. Room-temperature water or warm tea are great ways to warm up your vocal cords.
- Lubricate your vocal cords. I’ve often seen advice that says to add some honey to your tea to help lubricate your vocal cords (some people also recommend a shot of olive oil). The truth is, you would have to inhale the liquid for it to make contact with your actual vocal cords. If you like honeyed tea (or olive oil, I suppose), by all means drink it. But it won’t do anything for your voice that plain (warm) water won’t also do.
- Cheek massage. Massage your checks with the heel of each hand. Push in and down right below your cheekbone and rotate in a clockwise motion. Your jaw will open without you even thinking about it and will be forced to relax. Repeat several times.
- Yawn. Yawning stretches your vocal cords and will help loosen them up. Give it ten to fifteen good yawns prior to singing.
- Stretch your mouth. Properly stretching your jaw can help prevent an injury and you can’t learn to sing when you’re injured. Open your mouth and place your fingers inside, near your back molars. Now pull your jaw out slightly.
- Hum. Place your tongue behind your bottom row of teeth and hum. Start this exercise with your mouth open then close your mouth and repeat. Your vocal cords will loosen up considerably.
- Lip trills. Have you ever blown bubbles underwater? That’s basically what this is: blow air out and let it vibrate your lips. This will warm up both your lips and your diaphragm.
- Staccato beats. Sing a short “ha-ha-ha” to make your vocal cords more flexible. This will make it easier for you to hit all of the notes when you perform. It will also make it easier for you to go from one extreme to the other when alternating between notes.
- Do kazoos. These focus of the sound and stretch the vocal folds in a healthy and controlled way. To do a kazoo, pretend like you’re sucking in spaghetti then exhale while making a “woo” sound. It should sound like a buzz. Go up and down to the extremities of your range, while holding the sound steady. Repeat several times.
- Go through the scales. First just hum them, then sing them. As you progress through the scales, gradually ramp up the intensity.
Always remember that warm-ups are not supposed to sound good.
Most of them will actually sound quite ridiculous and even obnoxious, no matter how good your singing voice. For this reason, I always like to find a private place to do my warm-ups.
Also, make sure you warm up both the upper and lower voice.
The lower voice is louder and more solid; the upper voice is breathier and lighter. Your lower voice is basically the range in which you speak. To find your upper voice, mimic an opera singer.
Additional Warm Up Tips and Exercises
- Vocal Warm-Ups — Johns Hopkins Voice Center
- Vocal Warm-Ups — New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai
- Vocal Warm-Up: Put Your Best Voice Forward — American Academy of Otolaryngology
4. Mouth Shape and Tongue Position
Obviously, your mouth and tongue play a huge role in singing and you can’t become a great singer without first learning to position them properly.
Shaping your mouth and positioning your tongue correctly is what allows you to sing in tune and to properly formulate your words.
How to Shape Your Mouth When You Sing
Some of the following singing tips and exercises may feel a bit exaggerated and strange at first, but if you want to learn to sing better, don’t let that discourage you. With bit of practice, you’ll get them down and your singing will benefit greatly.
- Open your mouth wide. This is especially important when singing vowels. You want to make sure your mouth is open when singing vowels. If you are struggling with this, try putting two to three fingers inside your mouth and keep it that open while you practice singing vowels. Obviously, you won’t want to keep it open that wide when you actually sing, but opening it much wider than you need to, should make it feel more natural to keep it open a bit wider than you are used to.
- Drop your jaw when singing “ahhh” sounds. If you open your mouth and drop your jaw, the “ahhh” will sound fuller and more natural. This may take some practice to get used to, but it will have you sounding much better.
- Shape your mouth like the letter “O” when singing “ohhh” sounds. This will make your “ohhh” sounds full and rich.
- Shape your mouth like a small “o” when singing an “oooo” sound. Make sure your throat is open and your tongue is lightly pressed against your front teeth. This will keep you from going off key.
- Shape your mouth like an oval when making an “eee” sound. This may seem strange, but the longest part of the oval should actually be the vertical part. And keep your throat open.
- Open your mouth wide and stretch your throat when singing high notes. Open your mouth like you are yawning. This allows your vocal cords to vibrate in the right way to correctly hit high notes.
- Stick your lips out a bit. This opens up your throat a little more and results in a warmer sound. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right at first. It takes some practice to get your lips in the right position and also to get used to singing with your lips sticking out.
- Form a small circle shape with your mouth whenever you need to breathe. Pretend you are sucking the air in through a straw. This will help you breathe quickly, so you don’t have to worry about missing a beat.
- Try to keep your face relaxed. Making all these different shapes with your mouth can easily cause your face to tense up, but that’s the last thing you want. Being tense makes it harder to sing on pitch.
Some of these singing techniques will take some getting used to, but once you get them down, you will notice a big improvement in your singing.
How to Position Your Tongue When Singing
The tongue affects both the pronunciation of words and the tone. If your tongue is not positioned properly, you will not be able to enunciate your words correctly and you will sing with a bad tone.
Here are some simple tips to help ensure your tongue is positioned correctly.
- Keep your tongue out of your throat. Learn to relax your tongue and keep it forward. Hold your jaw still and say “ya, ya, ya.” Pay attention to how your tongue feels during and after the words. That is exactly how it should feel when you are singing, since it does not block your airway in that position.
- Don’t twist your tongue. Twisting your tongue can block your airway and mange your words. Bend it slightly is fine, but do not twist it.
- Rest the tip of your tongue against your bottom teeth. This is where you want to keep your tongue most of the time. It will keep it out of the way, so you can sing with a clear voice.
- Move your tongue to your top teeth for vowels. This makes it much easier to articulate vowel sounds. Just make sure your tongue doesn’t go back and block your throat.
- Keep your tongue soft. A hard tongue makes it difficult to sing well. Keep it soft for a clean, clear pitch.
- Use the tip and sides of your tongue to articulate words. Using the base of the tongue muffles words and leads to bad tone. It might help to practice using the tip and sides of your tongue when speaking first and then use them when singing.
- Sing some tongue twisters. This can really help to practice the proper tongue position. Sing several different tongue twisters, until you are able to naturally keep your tongue in the correct position.
5. Finding Your Voice Type
When you begin learning how to sing, one of the first things you need to figure out is your vocal range.
Luckily, this is not too difficult.
Once you know your range, you can begin practicing singing techniques. You can also work on expanding your range.
What Is Your Vocal Range?
“Vocal range” is the range of notes you can sing comfortably. These are the notes you can hit without straining your voice.
Ideally, you want to stay within this range for the best results.
A good way to find your range is with a keyboard. If you do not have access to a keyboard, there are a number of free applications online.
Virtual Piano is a good one that also shows the notes.
All you want to do is play a note on the piano/keyboard and match it with your voice. Keep going up or down a key as long as you can hit them comfortably.
Alternatively, you can also match your notes with other people. If you are in a choir, for example, you can match notes with any of the other singers who know their range.
When determining your range, you want to make sure you are standing up straight and your mouth and tongue are positioned properly, so the air flows as it should.
If it doesn’t, you may miss notes that you could actually sing, which would result in an inaccurate idea of your actual range.
Note that your range can expand over time. I will provide some exercises below to help you expand your range.
There are seven standard voice types (excluding children) based on their vocal ranges. They are:
Sopranos fall between C4 and A5. This is the highest among the standard singing voices. It is generally seen as a female type, but some young men have soprano singing voices as well.
Mezzo-sopranos fall between A3 and F#5. This range lies between soprano and alto. Similar to soprano, this is mainly a female range, but young men can be mezzo-sopranos, too.
Altos fall between G3 and E5. Men can fall into this range, but the majority of altos are women and children.
Contraltos have a range between F3 and D5. Only classical or opera singers are classified in this range. It is generally the lowest singing voice for a woman. Men and children can also be contraltos.
Tenors fall between C3 and A4. Although there are men who can sing in the female ranges above, tenor is generally the highest range for men. Very few women can sing this low.
Baritones sing between A2 and F4. This range consists almost exclusively of men and is the second lowest of the standard ranges.
Bass singers fall in the range between F2 and E4. This is the lowest standard range and it consists of men who have very deep voices, like Barry White.
If you do not yet know your range, you should figure it out immediately.
You can then use it as a starting point on how to improve your singing voice. After you’ve been practicing for a while, test your range again to see if it has increased.
6. Voice Training
Before we get into training exercises for improving your voice, I want to make sure you know how to recognize pitch.
If you can, skip this section. If not, here is an exercise for you.
Learn To Recognize Pitch
The best way to work on your ability to recognize pitch is to sing along with a piano or keyboard. If you do not have one, use a free online one like Virtual Piano.
Press a key and match your voice to the tone with an “ah” sound. Do this for every musical note: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, G, and G# (A# is A sharp — the sharp notes are the black keys on the piano).
Training Your Vocal Cords
You can’t have a beautiful voice without strong vocal cords. If they are weak, your voice will be weak, but if they are well-trained, you will be able to produce a good tone and pitch.
Here are some techniques to exercise your vocal cords.
- Sing like you talk. Practice singing with the same volume and movements as when you talk. This teaches you how to regulate the movement of your larynx.
- Practice moving from one vowel to the next. This exercise teaches your vocal cords how to transition between different sounds.
- Hold a note as long as you can. Choose a note you can sing comfortably and hold it as long as you can. Rest for a few moments, then repeat. Keep doing this until you are able to hold the note for a long time. This exercise strengthens your vocal cords quite a bit.
- Do a series of arpeggios and scales. Do them for three to five minutes at a time and follow that with three to five minutes of rest. Continue this for 40 minutes, even if you feel tired and want to quit.
- Sing notes at the top and bottom of your range. Just like pushing your muscles in the gym makes them stronger, challenging your vocal cords strengthens them as well. This exercise also helps with controlling your breathing as you move from one note to the next.
- Keep your throat still when you sing. This forces you to use your inner larynx muscles, which are responsible for closing the vocal cords together and producing a good tone. This is not an easy exercise and it might help to have someone watch you to make sure your throat is actually still.
- Do tongue rolls. There is some evidence that the tongue plays a role in strengthening the vocal cords. To do tongue rolls, put your tongue down flat in your mouth. Then when you sing, roll up the sides.
Training your vocal cords will lead to a significant improvement in your singing voice. Just remember that it will take a lot of practice.
Don’t get frustrated if you can’t get all of the techniques immediately. Just keep at it and you will learn to sing better over time.
If you feel like you are not improving at all, no matter how much you practice, it might be time to get singing lessons online from a vocal coach.
Improving Your Vocal Range
A lot of people believe we’re stuck with our current vocal range, but that is not the case. It is possible to increase your vocal range.
Use the following tips and techniques on a daily basis as you learn how to sing and your range will slowly expand.
- Don’t push yourself. I put this first, because it is easy to get impatient and to start pushing your voice training too hard to see greater improvement faster, but doing so is counterproductive. Pushing your voice too hard can strain it, which will actually have a negative affect on your vocal range.
- Blend your voice. Remember the discussion of head and chest voices earlier in this article? If you blend these two voices together, you can improve your range. As easy way to work on this is by making a siren sound as you go up and down the register.
- Do scales with staccato notes. This vocal exercise makes it easier for you to hit notes outside of your range. It gets you used to hitting those notes, which leads to being able to makes them last longer.
- Bend at the waist. This may seem strange, but it removes the tension from your body, which makes it easier for air to flow past your vocal cords. If you have trouble hitting the high notes, try bending at the waist when you sing them. Soon you will be able to hit them without bending as well.
- Act as though you are crying. Another strange one, but it will help you hit high notes outside of your range. Acting like you are crying while singing causes the thyroid to tilt, making it easier to hit high notes. Eventually, you’ll get used to hitting the notes and will find you can keep hitting them even without the crying act.
- Do tongue trills. Place your tongue in the space between your top front teeth and the roof of your mouth then push air over your tongue, similar to how you would pronounce the Spanish “rr.” Trilling your tongue works your throat muscles, which will help you reach notes you couldn’t reach before.
- Don’t lower head for low notes. Lowering your head when attempting notes below your range prevents proper air flow through your body, which keeps you from hitting the note you want. No matter which note you are trying to sing, always keep your head straight when learning how to sing.
- Learn to breathe through your diaphragm. I covered this extensively in the section on breathing above. Follow the instructions there if you need help learning to breathe through your diaphragm.
- Practice speech-level singing. Speech-level singing means to only sing at your speaking volume. This ensures that your larynx stays relaxed, which helps you can hit new notes and also develops your muscle memory.
- Stick your tongue out throughout the day. Yes, this is a bit strange, too, but in order to hit notes outside your range, your tongue needs to come forward in your mouth. Sticking it out throughout the day is a great way to train it to do so.
- Practice a high-register song. Choose a song in the highest register you can comfortably manage and sing it several times a day, until it starts to become easy. Then move on to a song in the next range.
- Practice a low-register song. Just like the previous exercise, but on the opposite end of your range.
- Keep a steady flow of air. A common mistake singers make when learning how to sing better is to change how they exhale when they move up or down in their range. You want to always exhale at the same speed.
Increasing your vocal range takes time, but it is not impossible.
Improving Your Tone
As a singer, you want the best tone possible. Fortunately, there are several voice exercises for beginning and advanced singers alike.
Follow these tips and techniques and see an immediate improvement in your tone (note that these have all been covered in previous sections of this article).
- Always warm up. If you don’t spend 10 to 20 minutes warming up before singing, your tone will suffer.
- Practice breathing. You need to breathe from your diaphragm when singing. You know you are breathing from your diaphragm when your stomach moves in and out with each breath, not your chest.
- Keep your throat open. Slide your tongue forward so it touches your bottom front teeth. This allows air to move freely through your throat and vibrate your vocal cords, producing a good tone.
- Keep your head straight. Even a slight tilt can have a large negative impact on your tone. Keep you head straight so air can flow freely.
- Have good posture. Bad posture prevents air from properly flowing through your diaphragm, so be sure to stand up straight when learning how to sing.
- Drink lots of water. Water (at room temperature) helps your singing voice. Warm tea is great too. Avoid alcohol and thick drinks like milk.
- Embrace your voice. Mimic someone else hurts your natural tone. Always use your natural for the best tone possible.
- Open your mouth wide enough. If you can’t fit at least two fingers between your teeth when you sing, you need to open your mouth wider.
- Relax your tongue. A tense tongue blocks your airflow and hurts your tone.
- Sing softly at first. It is much easier to relax your throat and breathe correctly when you start off singing softly. As you get into your singing session, gradually increase the volume.
- Rest your vocal cords. Singing a lot can fatigue your vocal cords. If you’ve got a big performance coming up, try to avoid talking as much as possible to ensure your vocal cords are rested and ready to produce the best tone.
- Lubricate your vocal cords. Lubricating your vocal cords with olive oil or honey ensures a smooth tone. You will be surprised at the effect this can have on your singing voice.
These simple tips are all it takes to sound better immediately. Make sure to incorporate as many as possible (ideally all of them) into your daily routine of vocal exercises.
7. Practice Singing (Almost) Daily
If you truly want to have a professional singing voice, you need to work on it as much as possible.
Every day would be good, but it is actually best to give your vocal cords a day of rest once a week (see the next section on protecting your voice).
Consistent practice makes your voice stronger and can increase the upper and lower limits of your vocal range over time. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your practice sessions.
- Always warm up before each practice session. Your warm-up routine should generally last ten to twenty minutes. Start slowly and build up gradually to properly warm up your vocal cords. The section on warming up above has some great techniques.
- Sing a song while lying down. This allows you to practice singing while keeping your body in a straight line. When you sing standing up afterwards, imagine you are still lying down so your body stays perfectly straight.
- Record yourself when you sing. This allows you to listen to yourself and make sure you were on pitch. If you make a video recording (recommended) you can also check your posture and see what you need to work on going forward.
- Look in the mirror when you practice. This is great for anyone who doesn’t have access to a video camera, but even if you do, this is still a good technique. It allows you to make changes to your posture and positioning immediately, rather than having to watch the video first.
- Set a metronome to help you stay on the beat. This is the best way to practice staying on time when you learn to sing. If you do not have a metronome, here is a good online one. There are also free apps available for your phone.
- Use the messa di voce technique. You take a single pitch all the way up to a crescendo and then down to a diminuendo. Start out quietly and get louder; then go quiet again, all with the same pitch.
- Don’t always just sing songs straight through. You get the most out of your practice sessions if you work on problem areas. Take a more difficult part of a song and work on it until it is perfect. Repeat with your next problem spot.
- Practice connecting with the songs. We sound so much better when we have an emotional connection with a song. Try closing your eyes when you sing and feel the sounds and words. This should help you connect with them.
- Work on your breathing too. You want to get more mileage out of each breath, so try holding your breath for more beats. Keep increasing the number of beats gradually. Eventually, you will be able to sing far more notes between breaths.
- Challenge yourself. Don’t spend too much time on things you have already mastered. Work on things you’re not so good at. That’s the how to improve your voice.
- Create a practice routine. Having a routine you follow each and every time creates habits and makes each practice session more effective. For example, you could start with a 15 minute warm up routine that ends with scales, then move on to work on problem areas you have with certain songs.
- Set goals for each practice session. Goals are vital for helping you stay on track so that you continuously show improvement. These won’t be major goals, but just one or two things you want to work on or accomplish during the session.
Getting good at anything takes practice and singing is no different. Consistent practice is the only way to show improvement when you teach yourself to sing.
Put in the time and you will get better.
If you want some inspiration, here is a list of some of the best karaoke songs to sing. You’re sure to find something there you’d enjoy singing.
8. Learn How To Sing Better Without Damaging Your Voice
Injuring your vocal cords can be devastating. Worst case scenario, you could end up losing your ability to sing altogether.
You definitely want to make sure you take proper care of your vocal cords.
Luckily, this is not hard and you just need to incorporate a few things into your singing routine.
- Always do your warm-ups. Whether you are practicing at home or performing for a stadium-sized crowd, you need to do your warm-up routine. Failing to warm up is the easiest way to injure your vocal cords.
- Cool down after you sing. Not only do you need to warm up your vocal cords, you need to cool them down after singing as well. Spend a few minutes after singing to stretch and soothe them.
- Don’t sing outside your range. Do not tackle notes outside your range. There are exercises to expand your range (see this section above) where you do sing outside your range, but these controlled exercises are the only time you should do this.
- Breathe properly when you sing. If you don’t give your vocal cords the right amount of air, you have to strain to hit your notes. This unnecessarily stresses your vocal cords.
- Avoid drinking cold water. Cold water can cause your vocal cords to tense up, which could damage them. Only drink warm water or tea before and during your singing practice or performance.
- Don’t yell. Yelling strains your vocal cords, so try to avoid it at all times. Use your normal speaking voice. Whenever you feel like yelling, try to remind yourself that it could potentially ruin your entire singing career.
- Rest your vocal cords. I know you’re learning to sing and you want to get better as quickly as possible, but don’t sing seven days a week. That would stress your vocal cords too much. You always want to make sure to give your vocal cords sufficient time to rest to avoid damaging them.
- Avoid coughing and clearing your throat. I know this isn’t always possible if you are sick, but apart from that, try to avoid coughing and clearing your throat. Warm tea with honey or cough drops can help, as can a steam inhaler like the one mentioned in this article. And if you do get sick, take some time off from singing until you recover.
- Don’t whisper. Whispering squeezes your vocal cords together and puts a lot of strain on them.
- Avoid smoke. Smoke irritates your vocal folds. As much as possible, avoid smoky bars and people who smoke around you. It goes without saying that you should not smoke yourself.
Some singers recover from vocal cord injuries, but others are never able to get back to where they were before with their singing.
It’s not a risk worth taking.