My #1, All-time, Best-Ever Tip for Singers.
Updated: Apr 21
Do you wish you could hit higher notes? Or sing with more power? Or improve your tone? Do you want to take your singing to the next level but you don't know how? Well, here is the best advice I have ever recieved about singing. And I bet you'll be too scared to do it. Here it is...
But first a story.
When I was in highschool there were two bands I really liked. One was Lifehouse, and the other was Third Day. Both lead singers had a dark, throaty tone. You know Chris Pratt's character from Parks and Recreation?
I wanted to sound like those guys. So I did.
I played in a band in highschool and lead worship for different events. People would come up to me and compliment me on my voice. They would say, "You sound like so-and-so". Sometimes they would say I sounded like my heroes. To quote one guy word for word, "Wow, that was a big voice to come out of a tiny body". It felt nice.
Then one day while down in California I took a vocal lesson from a lady named Joanna. I had written a song and was singing it for her in my usual style. I would open my mouth half-way and sing from the back of my throat. She stopped me and asked,
"Can you say that lyric?"
"Yep. Just say it. Like you're saying it to me."
I said it.
"Now say those words on pitch, but don't SING it. Just say it on pitch."
I said it on pitch.
And I met my voice.
"That's what you sound like."
That is my #1 all-time, best ever advice for singers.
Sing with your own voice.
It's that simple. If you sing with your own voice you will hit higher notes. You'll be able to sing longer and louder. You'll have more clarity and better tone. And it's so hard to do that I bet you won't. I bet I can even make your excuses for you. They are the same excuses I made. Here they are:
1."But I like my stylized voice. Why should I change?"
Ladies: Adele's voice is taken. So is Beyonce's, Lauren Daigle's, and that Youtuber I've never heard of.
Guys: You're not Chris Cornell. Or John Legend. Or Christian Stanfill.
Each of us are given just one voice. Unless you sing with your own voice you are condemned to be a cheap imitation. Some people pay for cheap imitations. But authenticity has real value.
2."But I don't like the sound of my voice."
We can tell. When you cover over your own voice with musky tone, swallowed vowels or whatever the cool thing is at the moment, it tells everyone you don't trust your own instrument. It tells everyone you would rather be someone else.
3."But people know my stylized voice. If I change it they will notice."
Yep. They'll notice the higher notes, the power, and the freedom you could sing with too.
4."FINE! What was I supposed to do again?
Take any song. Take a lyric from that song, and say it like you were talking to a friend. Now, say each of those notes on pitch, but DON'T SING. If you sing you'll add all those "sing-y" cliches you think people want to hear. Simply say it on pitch. It helps to have an honest listener, so hire a vocal instructor for a lesson. Tell them to be brutal. When you have finally met your true voice, deal with the consequences.
You will think your voice sounds nasal or thin. You will think it sounds uncool. You will forget and fall into old habits that recieved praise. Strip it down again. Live there for a while. You may come to accept your voice. You might even start to like it. Then you become dangerous.
The world needs more originals.