How To Be a Better Singer

Find out what it takes to improve your singing voice

As a voice instructor and music producer for over 25 years, I am often asked the question "How can I be a better singer"? And the answer is... different for everyone who asks. My students and recording clients are all unique, with different skills, experiences, weaknesses, motivation and commitment. Because of all these differences, it is impossible to provide a generic answer. However, there are some basic principles that everyone should understand. In addition, I will explain the factors I look at when I tell someone how they can be a better singer. 


How good a singer are you?


In order to get where you are going, you need to know where you are starting from. Better is a relative term, which means you can only figure out what better means if you know how ‘good’ you are now. The only way to know if you have become a better singer is to compare where you are in the future with where you started. So, how would you describe your singing? Be honest when considering your strengths and weaknesses. And don’t worry if you don’t really know how to evaluate yourself. Recognizing that fact is a good first step and just means that you have to learn more about the art of singing. The next section will help you understand that skills that are important for a good singer so that you can determine your strengths and weaknesses. 


What are the characteristics of a good singer?


You may think that sounding good is all a singer really has to do, but there is so much that goes into how you sound that you need to understand what makes someone sound good. Here are some skills and traits that you should be familiar with. While this is not a complete list of all characteristics of a good singer, it is certainly enough for you to evaluate your current skills and help you understand where you need to improve. 


Tone – Tone describes the treble and bass that are present in a voice. Treble is usually a piercing sound while bass is a full sound. Every singer has their unique tone which is one way that we can differentiate (or tell the difference) between various singers. 


Pitch – Being able to consistently hit the correct note is imperative. For some people, this takes a lot of practice. Ultimately, you must learn to hear when you are off pitch and immediately correct yourself. 


Range – A singers range refers to the specific notes that they can sing. Some singers can sing very high notes, while others can sing very low notes. There are some who can sing both high and low. It is possible to increase your vocal range (particularly on the high end) with proper instruction. It is important to have a trained professional assist with this skill so that your voice is not damaged. 


Scales – We have all heard singers perform impressive scales, especially on talent shows and during competitions. While this sounds great, it is not necessarily an essential feature of all types of music or vocal styles. Still, it is beneficial to be able to perform scales to some extent. 


Ornamentation – Ornamentation is the use of skills such as vibrato, rasp, and sliding. There are many ornaments that can be used and these skills tend to make a singer sound more professional. 


Style – Style refers to the combination of several characteristics mentioned above, including the sound of the voice, the type of music being performed and the ornaments used. 


Set Goals

Based on your self evaluation you will next need to set goals. These can be as simple as “practice 15 minutes every day”, or they can be more complex like “learn how to sing with vibrato”. Your goals can include the skills discussed above, as well as actions like auditioning for a competition, singing karaoke, or joining a band. 


Do you need help? 


Depending on your current skill level and past training that you may have had, you will need to decide if you need help. For most people, taking voice lessons is essential to becoming a better singer. Taking lessons requires time, as well as money. If you feel it is too expensive then consider what you are getting for your money. If becoming a better singer is important to you then you should try to find a way to pay for lessons, even if it means making sacrifices elsewhere in your budget. Online voice lessons are an inexpensive way to get quality instruction. There are also free lessons available on sites like YouTube, although having a structured program is far superior to random videos. 


Next Steps


I hope this article has given you a good understanding of what it takes to be a better singer. While there are many challenges, countless people are improving their vocal abilities every day. I hope you will follow their lead and do the same.