3 Vocal Exercises to Improve Control

3 Vocal Exercises to Improve Control written across an image of a silhouetted man singing into a microphone.

Training Your Voice

The most interesting part about vocal training is that like any other muscle in your body, your vocal cords and corresponding muscles can be improved and refined over time. The not-so-cool part? It takes a lot of time, and a myriad of practice and exercises. However, the following training techniques can get you on the right track to improving your voice, and make the process a bit quicker.

1. Breath Control Exercises

Breath control is the cornerstone of vocal prowess, especially for executing complex vocal runs and sustaining long notes.

An advanced technique in this area is diaphragmatic breathing, which involves deep breathing into the diaphragm, allowing for significant expansion and contraction of the abdomen. To achieve diaphragmatic breathing, focus on breathing deeply into your diaphragm rather than your chest. This involves inhaling slowly through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand fully, and then exhaling gradually, feeling your abdomen contract. This technique helps to engage the diaphragm effectively, providing better breath support for singing.

To enhance breath control, practicing breath holds is also effective. This involves taking a deep breath, holding it for a few seconds, and then releasing it slowly. Additionally, breath control drills like counting while exhaling can greatly improve a singer's breath support and stamina, essential for complex singing tasks.

2. Pitch Accuracy Exercises

Pitch accuracy is crucial for delivering a flawless vocal performance. One worthwhile exercise to improve pitch accuracy is pitch glides. This involves starting on a comfortable note and gradually sliding up or down to another note, focusing on maintaining the correct pitch throughout. Pitch glides train the ear to recognize and maintain correct pitches, essential for a consistently tuneful performance.

Interval training, where singers practice specific intervals such as a major third or a perfect fifth, is also beneficial. Additionally, singing scales up and down, like a major scale, helps in refining the ability to stay in tune, thus developing a more accurate ear and consistent pitch control.

3. Range Expansion Techniques

Expanding one’s vocal range is a common goal among advanced singers. A highly effective exercise for this purpose is the siren, where the singer starts at the lowest note of their range and smoothly slides up to the highest note, then back down. This exercise aids in smoothly transitioning between different vocal registers.

Vocal slides, where one glides between notes, and vocal fry, which involves producing a low, creaky sound, are also great for strengthening the vocal cords and expanding the vocal range over time. This exercise can also assist a singer in finding unique qualities in their voice, such as a smoky lower register, or a cloud-like, breathy head voice.

Give It Time (And Effort)

These exercises, when practiced consistently, can significantly enhance a singer's vocal control, range, and overall performance quality. They require dedication and patience but offer profound benefits in developing a more versatile and controlled singing voice.

If you'd like to see some technically-sound singing in action, check out Alexis Wilkins' acoustic performance of "One Of The Guys" on YouTube.