Many students and parents of students ask me, “what’s the easiest way for me or my child to get better at singing?” The answer is a simple one. Sing! I realize this probably seems completely obvious to most, yet it seems necessary based on the frequency with which I get the question.
For starters, our ears are a great tool when it comes to improving singing. There is a feedback loop between our vocalizations and our ears and anyone who wants to sing better should take every opportunity to sing. Be it in the shower, in the car, or doing the dishes, every time you open your mouth to sing you are learning and informing your instrument based on the feedback loop with your ears.
That being said, there is a reason for the voice teacher. When we listen to ourselves sing in real time our ears receive a biased version of the sound. Have you ever heard a recording of your speaking voice and said, “yuck, I don’t sound like that!” Well, it’s completely natural. When we sing sound waves travel out of mouth and travel back to our ears where our brain processes the vibrations as sound. But sound waves also travel from our vocal cords back to our ears through the interior of our head. These waves are muted and are not heard by the outside listener. So it is important to get outside your head. A voice teacher hears the voice that everyone else will hear, the waves that travel out from your mouth. If you can’t work with a voice teacher singing in and of itself is a great teacher, but it’s even better if you can record yourself so your impression is not biased by those interior head waves.
So if you can’t work with a master voice teacher sing, sing, sing. But get outside your head and listed to your voice as the rest of the world will. And when it’s time to make changes, hire a professional who can inform you how you can improve the sounds that you and everyone are hearing.