So you want to learn how to sing?

Today is pretty much the best day ever.


Well, I woke up and did my normal things (including an obscene number of hours dedicated to practice) and then rooted around to see what I’d write for the site today.

After some confusion, I discovered I didn’t have to do a damned thing today! WOOHOO!!!

That’s right, there was an article already here by the time I got to the computer.

We have a guest! (Put your damned pants on, we have a lady present!)

And, they’ve done my work for me!

I am not a vocalist. I will do vocal work. I don’t prefer it. I much prefer making bitchin’ solos. I’m not very good at it, unless you count artist mimicry as a specific skill.

So, once again, we have an expert guest!

She’s even a lady guest! Like I said, put your pants on! She’s a nice lady and deserves our attention and respect.

If you’d like to hear the voice of an angel, click this link to hear Justify – By Nadeshda. She doesn’t yet have an album that we can promote, but you can hear that sample track and imagine what she’s capable of doing in a real studio.

So, let’s all put our hands together and give a warm PlayGuitar reception to the Lovely Miss Nadeshda! Be sure to thank her for sharing her time and expertise with us and this will, ideally, become a fairly regular thing!

Without further ado, I introduce Nadeshda and her singing lesson!

So I have had some requests for singing lessons. TheBuddha has probably taught you some riffs, some chords or some fancy stage work or something awesome by now and you are finding yourself humming and wanting to sing along, but really what does one do to make it sound good?

In all seriousness, how does the voice work? You open your mouth and the sound that comes out is often squeaky, groggy, full of nerves or just plain weird sounding in your head.

Breathe in and relax this is perfectly normal, just think about the first time you picked up your instrument and tried to play it…

Yip, it possibly sounded awful and no matter how you sugar coat it, this would not change unless you struggled along and persisted. Learning techniques, muscle memory and good form you would soon find yourself improving.

This is pretty much the same with your voice. It IS an instrument and it needs to be practiced, cared for and looked after – just like your beautiful guitar, flute, piano, harp or bag pipes. I mention bag pipes as I know a young lady who diligently plays them and often has to struggle with all sorts of obstacles just to get the right sound. 

This is the same with your voice so let’s start by considering the anatomy and physiology of the voice.

If we follow the voice from the lungs to the lips we will discover the breath stream starts in the lungs and it provides a controlled flow of air which powers the vocal folds by setting them into motion.

This just sounds so cool doesn’t it; like and epic adventure that starts out as a thought and forms a breathe that become this stream of air setting things in motion by flowing and vibrating the vocal chords and finally creating this triumphant sound that echos in the ears and minds of those who hear it and understand it.

Perhaps this is a silly way to describe it but the voice is certainly a powerful tool in the hands of those who know how to use it.

We know that people who have a ‘low’ breath stream will have sub-optimal vocal production which basically means little power or control in their voice but through practice and training you can improve this over time.

Yes, breathing properly is essential for increasing your volume and the quality of your voice; sadly MOST people do not breathe properly and this often leads to a lack of confidence when speaking to groups, that special someone, singing and generally expressing yourself vocally.

By looking at the human larynx we might find some answers as to what is happening when we use our voice.

The Human Larynx has three vital functions.

  • Airway protection (prevention of aspiration)
  • Respiration (breathing)
  • Phonation (talking and singing)

When we speak or sing, the vocal chords vibrate to produce sound and when we breathe the vocal folds open or abduct and allow air-flow from the lungs through the mouth and nose and vice-versa.

When we eat, we reflexively stop breathing and the vocal folds approximate to protect the airway and keep food and drink out of the lungs.

The vocal folds do not operate like strings on a violin but actually are more like a vibrating woodwind or reed instrument.

We refer to the vocal chords as the “vibrator or oscillator”. When we breathe the breath stream from our lungs flow through the chords and it produces sounds. Let me show you what it looks like:

  • The following clip looks at the Larynx at 2000 frames per second and all the person is doing in the clip is making an “EEEE” sound. It looks weird but it shows you how the vocal chords are moving to produce sound while using breathe from the lungs.

Now that you have seen that disturbing image I would very much like you to take a deep breathe through your nose. Yes, breathe as if you are sending it all the way to your toes. Deeply and slowly and then exhale through your mouth in a controlled way, slowly and steady. GOOD JOB!

Congratulations, you have just passed your first singing lesson with flying colors.

Now please don’t shut up and sing me a song! 🙂

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One thought on “So you want to learn how to sing?”

  1. Good article, once upon a time I was a singer in a choir, I even did a concert or two. I’ve long since forgotten all the tips and tricks I learned and this made me remember a few of them. Thanks for writing it.

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