VOCALS (A GUIDE TO SINGING IN THE STUDIO)

I’ve spent a lot of time recording vocals in the studio and over time I started to realize that there are some simple but effective things that good singers do to get the most out of their singing. I’ve compiled this list here to help singers of all ranges and skill levels to get the most out of their studio experience.

          1. Sit or stand up straight- Good posture is essential to singing. It helps support the diaphragm and allows you to breathe freely.
          2. Breathe deeply- This may sound overly simple but its something that people often forget about or overlook. Take deep breaths and fully fill your lungs with air before you start singing. This is important for a couple of reasons. The first is that people give better performances overall when their lungs are filled properly; they also have a tendency to stay in tune better simply because their diaphragms are supported properly.
          3. Do something physical- Most people don’t realize that there are a lot of muscles involved in singing and by doing some basic exercises it helps those muscles perform to their fullest potential. Doing something simple like a set of push ups or a set of jumping jacks only takes up a few minutes but it can seriously increase the blood flow in the body. This does wonders for waking up the body and the mind. I’ve seen vocal performances increase 200% simply by doing this simple step.
          4. Warm up- Your voice uses a tons of muscles and they need to warm up before you can start getting good takes.
          5. Differentiate notes- When writing or singing songs, sit down and write out the melodies in standard notation. If you play an instrument sit down and learn to play your melodies while singing along. Start slowly and gradually work up to speed. I suggest this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it helps train your ears to be able to differentiate between right and wrong notes. Secondly, slowing down a melody and referencing notes against another instrument will help cement the right notes for a melody into your mind so that you can sing the right notes every time. In the end this is a very simple step that can have a huge impact on being able to stay in tune while you sing.
          6. Learn to count- This may sound a bit silly but being able to count is an essential part of music. For some reason this skill sometimes gets bypassed with singers more than with other musicians. But being able to count every beat in a song including the rests is something that is crucially important in music. This can really come into play when you have multiple vocal parts sung by a single person. Getting each vocal take to match is harder than it sounds and being able to hold notes out for their full count as well as matching a previous vocal delivery will take your vocals from alright to professional in a hurry.
          7. Don’t smoke- Smoking constricts and tightens the muscles used in singing and as such can drastically alter the overall sound of your voice. This is especially true for women. If you smoke I highly recommend that you take a break from smoking while recording and invest in some nicotine patches.

-S. F. Shields

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