Free Vocal Lessons (and How To Practice Singing)
I have a funny story for you:
When I was studying singing at university, some of the other singing students would go to the library, which has a great sheet music selection, and they would check out 3 or 4 books of JUST singing exercises – no music. Then they would stroll back to the practice room and spend a few hours doing vocal acrobatics.
One of the students – let’s call him Jack – had an amazing voice, and he just blew people away with his high notes. One day we were meeting for a rehearsal, and Jack showed up looking a little nervous. Our director cued the piano player to start playing and we began singing our parts and acting out the stage choreography. We were building up to the climax of our scene, and Jack had this really difficult part coming up soon.
Just before Jack had to sing, I looked over at his face. He looked like somebody just pulled his pants down in front of an auditorium full of cute girls. He was so pale he looked like a ghost. I didn’t understand at first WHY Jack looked so incredibly anxious, and then in the next few moments, it all became clear.
As Jack sang the first few words, something didn’t seem quite right. He was singing in tune, he always did. And his high notes sounded great, they always did too. But after a few more seconds, we all realized that Jack was completely making up the words he was singing. It sounded like Louis Armstrong scatting. Our director, who speaks Italian and loves the language like a native, cut off the music and gave Jack a look that burned a hole right in his soul.
But our director was never mean or spiteful but always very fair and honest with us, and all he said to Jack after a moment of reflection was “Know your music tomorrow”, and resumed the rehearsal. And he was right. You see, Jack was one of the students who had 4 or 5 books full of singing exercises that he would go practice for hours on end. He kept telling himself that he’ll get to the music in a few minutes, right after this last exercise, but by the time he was ready for actual songs, his voice was tired and he had to leave.
Now that I’m older and a bit wiser, I think spending all that extra time on singing exercises would help make you a better singer more quickly if it were spent on practicing songs instead.
Now don’t get me wrong, singing exercises are important in developing your muscle memory for certain patterns that occur in music, but since MUSIC is the thing you’re eventually going to sing, then doesn’t it make sense to spend the greater portion of your time and energy practicing IT, rather than something NOT IT?
This concept probably sounds weird to you, doesn’t it? I mean, don’t singing exercises get your voice in “better shape”? For sure they do. But what they get it in shape FOR, more than anything else, is singing exercises!
The best way I know how to explain this idea of how to practice singing to you is through fighting. You see, I train with a lot of mixed martial artists – these are the guys (and girls) that get into a cage and beat the tar out of each other – and when they’re preparing for a fight, they’ll practice punching and kicking and wrestling, then they’ll lift weights and run sprints, and ALL of these things definitely makes them tougher fighters both physically and mentally. But the one thing that these guys spend the MOST amount of time and energy on is actual, live sparring with an opponent going full force.
In other words, you have to practice the thing that you’re trying to be good at the most. So if you want to sing expressively, practice singing songs expressively. If you want to sing higher, practice singing higher. Obviously, you have to know HOW to do these things, and that’s why we have singing courses and vocal coaches to teach us. But in any case, I hope you understand that to get good at something – anything – you have to do THAT THING.
With that being said, here are some free vocal lessons for you to use as a warmup and to help build your vocal technique. If you’re more or less new to singing, the best thing to do is to imitate what I do in the videos. I recommend you pick about 5 exercises to work on during your practice sessions because more than that would take too much time away from practicing actual songs.
If you haven’t already, check out my short eBook, Easy Singing Basics, which teaches you healthy singing and gives you a solid foundation to build your voice on. Just enter your name and email up above and I’ll send it to you right away!