Jayne's Singing Tips


The 3 areas of the body
To breathe in, fill up the lower part of the lungs, feel the area between the sternum and the waist expand. The top half of the rib cage and the shoulders should be very relaxed and should not go up and out.

Breathe all round the body; never above the sternum. The diaphragm moves down when you breathe in and you should feel as though it has reached down as far as your waist.

A tickle in the throat when singing could be tension. Breath should go straight to the abdomen. There should not be a sucking sound that makes the air dry the vocal chords on the way in.

The diaphragm
Before you sing, breathe in, lock your diaphragm tight like a drum all round the body (=tight-waisted). As you sing the diaphragm is gradually relaxed, releasing a cool column of air into the throat to give energy to the voice. Support the diaphragm by tightening tummy and buttock muscles: breathe in with tummy muscles relaxed, then as you sing and feel need for support, bring the muscles in and squeeze the buttock muscles to gradually squeeze under the diaphragm to support it.

Use you power base - feel like you've got roots going into the floor. But keep knees relaxed, like shock absorbers.

Singing is about being aware of your whole body, not just your throat. Lock the diaphragm and then breathe inside the lock.

Pelvis tilted forwards, stand tall to allow the ribs to float out of the way when you breathe in. Intercostal muscles also support you if you stand correctly (Alexander technique).

No man's land should be relaxed all the time, should not be involved in the singing.

Holding the score
When standing with your score, your shoulders should be relaxed and down. Shoulder supports elbow which supports the wrist and the arm is slightly extended from the body. Head should be up and the line of sight for the eyes can move easily between the score and the conductor without having to move the body.

Brain centre
In your brain centre you have your throat, pharynx, larynx and vocal chords. The chords are very delicate and need to be protected. There should never be tension in the neck. Vocal chords do not fully mature until your early 30's. They are very delicate membranes.

If you cough or shout the chords rub against each other instead of vibrating smoothly together. If you feel that to sing louder you are causing the chords to rub together instead of vibrating then DON'T SING LOUDER!

The higher in pitch you go, the more relaxed your pharynx, larynx etc should be, as if in a yawn where there is a lovely open space at the back of your throat. Called 'open throated'.

Face and diction
The face is the resonator for the voice. There are spaces in the skeletal structure of the face, as there are spaces in the chest cavity, and the mouth is the main resonating area. Never sing with a wide cheesy grin, it causes tension in the cheeks and neck. Your smile should come from your eyes.

Sing with an oval shaped mouth. Jaw should be relaxed and 'gormless'! You only open the jaw if you need to go higher in pitch.

Concentrate on the vowels, you don't need to sing the consonants - they clip the sound.


Your top lip is important. Your face needs to have range of flexibility and movement to make the right sounds. There should be a lift in the cheeks: bright sounds like 'e' vowels should come from lift in the cheeks, not from the jaw.

Mask of singing
All the front of your face (ie from your ears forwards) is the mask of singing, also knows as the dome of sound - other expressions include: head singing, head resonance, spin the voice around the head using the bone space.

Mental control and visualisation
After a bad day need to lift the sound of the voice, need to think positively and brightly to get it right. Learn to isolate the muscles in the face and imaging that your voice is like the ping pong ball in the snorkel - it floats on the air energy provided by the power base. Avoid 'white singing' where the air and the voice are mixed together; the air should float the voice.

Singing is 60% technique and 40% confidence, so mental control and attitude is important, as is self-awareness and being aware of your body. That is how to be in control of your voice.

Rehearsing and warming up
Humming is a good way to rehearse, as is to sing 'la' or something that wakens the face up. Never sing on a cold voice. Get it oiled first. Support the voice, learn to breathe properly and you can sing softly. It takes more control to sing softly, so a good way is to practice loud and with confidence and then sing softly once you are confident.

Singing while sitting
Feet square, sit up, shoulders relaxed. Do not cross legs. Remember to do all these things to fill up the inside of the rib cage and diaphragm. If you slouch you will be fighting your rib cage.

Don't try to stop the natural vibrato in your voice using your throat. It will make your throat tense. Control it using the breathing. Often it is a slacking of the diaphragm (especially as one gets older) that causes the beating effect of the vibrato.


Teen Vocal Coach

September 17, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Hi Jayne! I took note of your singing tips so I can share it with the kids choir here. We really don't have a choir master here in our church. Researching the internet is one of the ways I use to find tips to teach the kids. Thanks for the posts.