Improving Your Singing Technique by Backing into Phrases

By Pamelia S. Phillips

A good way to improve your technique is to work the phrases backward. No, don’t try to sing your song backward — just work from the last phrase you find difficult and gradually add the preceding phrases as you master the hard one.

Sing the last few measures of a song until your phrasing is solid. When you can do that easily, make another grouping with the preceding few measures. So imagine that your text is, “The loud cows aroused the sows. The sound of the hounds resounded all around.”

  1. First, practice the last phrase, “resounded all around.”

  2. When that phrase sounds good, work through “The sound of the hounds resounded all around.”

  3. When that phrase is smooth as glass, add the preceding phrase, “aroused the sows.”

  4. Then work through the whole enchilada: “The loud cows aroused the sows. The sound of the hounds resounded all around.”

The phrasing and breath flow likely are more polished now. You can apply this same idea to your song. By working some of the phrases from the last few words, you gradually practice your breath control so you can make it through the entire phrase.

In the illustration below, you can work the phrase “These are the simple things that I would celebrate in song” by starting at “I would celebrate in song.” When you can successfully sing that phrase, go back and add “simple things.

When that much of the phrase is easy to manage, go back and sing the entire phrase, “These are the simple things I would celebrate in song,” and see whether you can tell the difference in your breath control.