This article originally appeared on Cari Cole's Standing in the Spotlight blog.
As one of the top celebrity vocal coaches in the world, I’ve seen it all. From stars to rock legends and Grammy winners to tens of thousands of emerging independents, one thing is true:
You don’t have to have the best voice in the world, but you do have to have a good one. And one that won’t quit on you when it matters.
Here are my top seven vocal tricks to make your voice rules the world.
1. Breathe into your ribs (not just your abdomen)
Your abdomen is a starting point but it’s not even half of the battle. If you want to sing, you’ve got to breathe into your ribs and back. Three-hundred-sixty degrees around your empire waist (just under your breasts) needs to expand outwards. That’s the ONLY way the diaphragm will drop and pull air into the deeper recesses of your lungs.
Get your diaphragm working for you instead of against you. Go high notes!
2. Open your throat
Lay your fingers across the top of your throat. Open your jaw. Did you feel your throat move down? Hopefully. Now, keeping your fingers at the top of your throat and pinch your cheeks between your teeth hard. Do it again. Did your throat move further down. It should have.
That stretch is really good for opening your throat. Do it daily. Practice some of your vocal exercises with a pinch to improve laryngeal depth. It is one of the ways to open your throat before and during singing.
3. Drop your jaw
Drop your jaw down when singing vowels. This brings more sound and volume to your voice. It’s magic.
4. Think down for high notes
Think of your voice like an elevator. As it rises, a heavy chain pulls it down (that’s your high notes). As it lowers, the chain lifts. Think of your voice like a pulley.
Reach down for high notes, lifts for low notes. You’ll notice really good singers don’t lift their chins for high notes. Works like a charm.
5. Keep your tongue down...
Singing with a high tongue causes all kinds of problems. I’m talking about the back of your tongue. A high tongue is the number-one reason for nasality, problems with transitions through the “break” and a tight, tense voice.
Open your mouth, take a gentle yawn and see if you can drop the back of your tongue at the beginning of the yawn. Sometimes you have to practice it for a bit before it lowers (you can’t force it). Think about dropping your tongue before you sing and during singing to help you control your voice.
Helpful suggestions to drop the tongue are: imagine you have a sock in the back of your mouth, imagine you are swallowing vitamins or drinking a glass of water…. down, baby, down!
6. ...And your chest up
Dropping the chest as you sing is the number-one cause of a lack of breath control and vocal strain. You only end up singing from your throat and losing your breath too early when your chest drops.
Notice if you drop your chest near the end of the phrase and practice keeping it up all the way through the phrase (until you train it usually does). The goal is to keep a lifted chest and relaxed shoulders and neck as you sing. Watch that breath control improve almost instantaneously!
7. Stop singing with so many H's
Great voices limit their H’s or eliminate them altogether. You-hoo-hoo vs. You-oo-oo. Hint: H’s are usually added when you are singing several notes on one vowel.
It’s a small adjustment that an untrained voice makes as it changes pitch. Too many H’s sound amateur and choppy. Limit your H’s, and sound smoother instantly!
I hope this helps your voice rule your world, wherever you are.
Next up: The Ultimate Singer Survival Kit: 20 Things Every Singer Should Have
Cari Cole is a celebrity vocal coach, artist development expert, and new music business mentor. She helps artists and musicians find their voice, build their brand, and create successful careers in music. Grab a free copy of her Vocal Road Warrior three-part series: how to keep your voice healthy while you're out conquering your tour!