Singing For Dummies book cover

Singing For Dummies

By: Pamelia S. Phillips Published: 11-16-2021

Go from singing in the shower to taking your audience’s breath away

Whether you picture yourself as the next Ariana Grande or just feel like picking up a new hobby, Singing For Dummies walks you through the surprisingly straightforward steps you’ll need to take to develop your voice. It’s a practical guide to every important aspect of singing, from vocal techniques to performance tips.

You’ll learn exercises and practice songs that gradually improve your craft and receive instruction on the latest technology and recording devices to capture and play back your songs. Singing For Dummies also shows you how to:

  • Understand and use important singing techniques, improve your tone, upgrade your posture, and maximize your breath
  • Maintain your voice with preventative self-care that keeps your vocal cords in tiptop shape
  • Sing with instrumental accompaniment or with a partner in a duet

Perfect for men, women, boys, and girls, Singing For Dummies is the most intuitive and accessible resource on the market for anyone who hopes to find their voice.

Articles From Singing For Dummies

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228 results
228 results
Singing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 09-24-2021

The craft of singing requires you to do several things at one time starting with aligning your body and breathing. Whether you’re preparing for an audition or a performance, the successful presentation of any song includes preparing yourself as well as your song.

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Breathing Checklist to Improve Singing

Article / Updated 06-20-2019

Breathing is breathing, right? Not so with singing. For singers, good breath control and strong lungs contribute to powerful performances. It all begins with knowing how to breathe from deep within your body — from your diaphragm, actually, which is a membrane of muscle and tendons located between your lungs and abdomen. Follow this checklist to ensure that your breathing helps make your singing better: Each breath drops low in the body. Open your throat to prevent gasping. Chest stays steady as you inhale. Body movement consists of the lower abdominal area and the ribs expanding upon inhalation. With exhalation, the abdominal area moves in as the air is slowly released.

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Posture Checklist for Better Singing

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The next time you watch a professional singer, observe the posture. Posture plays a large part in how well you sing. If you hunch over, your lungs can't inflate fully; and if you fidget, you distract your audience — and yourself. Use the following list to correctly position yourself for singing: Feet are hip-width apart with feet parallel. Knees are unlocked with the weight evenly distributed on the three points of the feet — the tripod. Spine is long and straight, from bottom to top. Head is centered over shoulders; chin is parallel with the ground. Shoulders are back but down and released. Arms are hanging at your side.

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Steps for Singing a New Song

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Learning a new song to sing can be intimidating, but by using the following steps, you can integrate a new song into your repertoire without much difficulty. As with any new skill, learning a new song is a process, made easier if you break it into manageable steps: Memorize the words as a story — write out the text as sentences with punctuation. Tap out the rhythm. Sing through the melody — without words — using a single vowel such as ah or oh. Sing through the melody with the piano accompaniment without words. Put it all together: words, rhythm, melody, and acting.

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Tips for Dealing with Stage Fright When Singing

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Deciding what you're afraid of is the first big step in conquering stage fright, or performance anxiety. Some common fears include cracking your voice, looking stupid, or being afraid of audience rejection. Make a plan to eliminate the fear by following these tips: Make a practice checklist to make sure you're technically prepared for your performance. Work on your technique so you know you can depend on your voice under pressure. Expect to be nervous and feel adrenaline before a performance. Think positive thoughts. Sing for friends before the big performance to work out the anxiety.

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Audition Tips for Singers

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The big tip to use on singing auditions is to know the typical behavior for your style of music. Pop-rock auditions are more laid-back than opera auditions. The way you dress for the opera audition is very different from how you dress at the pop-rock audition. Knowing these specifics increases your chances of getting the gig. This list highlights some tips to help you at auditions: Choose songs that highlight your vocal strengths. Pick stories you want to tell. Prepare your music in a notebook so your songs are easy to locate. Or bring your recording to sing along with. Polish your resume and print out your headshot to take to the audition. Ask an accompanist to read through your song before your audition. Choose your outfit wisely based on expectations for your type of audition. Polish your acting skills.

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Singing: How to Move Your Back for Better Breathing

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Opening your back while singing helps your breathing — after all, your back (or spine) is connected to your ribs. So how does this help singers? Quickly opening your back helps air to fall into your lungs and aids inhalation. Remember that the lungs are connected to the ribs, so moving the ribs and the back moves the lungs. Try this suggestion to quickly open your back for an easy inhalation: Assume a huddle position, as if you’re on the football team ready to hike the ball to the quarterback. In the huddle position, you stand and lean forward, with your hands on your bent knees and your back straight. You don’t have to bend over as far as the football players — only far enough to allow your back to relax. With your hands on your knees, take a breath and imagine that you can put the air into your back — as if your lungs are all along your back and you want to fill them with air. You may notice that the muscles in your back feel like they’re lifting and opening for the air to come in the body. Take a few more breaths and notice the sensations of your back opening. When you think you feel your back releasing and opening as you inhale, try opening your back more quickly. Open the same muscles along your back without worrying about inhalation. When you open the muscles, the air comes into your body and you don’t have to worry about inhalation — the inhalation happens because you’re opening the muscles. You can also squat down and place your hands on your back to feel the movement of the muscles. If you have a practice buddy, ask her to put her hands on your back as you try expanding your back. Or you can ask her to try the same exercise so you can feel how her back moves. Feeling the movement of someone else’s body may help you know what’s happening to yours. If the huddle position isn’t comfortable, try lying on your back with your knees bent to feel the opening of your back. Lie on the floor and feel the opening of your back along the floor as you inhale. Notice the movement of the upper part of your back and the lower part of your back, all the way down to your hips.

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Breathing for Singing: Flexing the Ribs

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You don’t have to remember the number of ribs to understand their role in breathing for singing. You do want to remember that the top of your rib cage has more movement from front to back in your body and that the lower ribs open more laterally, or out to the side of your body Knowing how your ribs move, you can visualize the side-to-side opening near the bottom of your ribs to get the most air into your body quickly. And if you’re a dancer, you want to know how to quickly open the upper ribs and your back when you’re dancing across the stage. You may be asked to sing and dance at the same time. Because dancers have to keep their body moving while singing, they can’t always let their abdominal muscles release. But dancers can allow the ribs to open when breathing. If a dancer allows his ribs to open upon inhalation and slowly lets them close upon exhalation, he doesn’t have to worry so much about letting the abdominal muscles be loose. When you understand the way the body was designed to breathe, take it a step farther and practice working with your ribs for dancing while singing. Move your arms in the following exercise so that you can feel the opening of your chest and ribs: Raise your arms over your head. Take a breath and feel your ribs open. Keep your chest stable. You don’t need to raise your chest; merely let it open. Repeat several times to feel the movement of your ribs. Put your arms down and place your hands on your ribs. Put your palms against your lower ribs with your thumb facing forward and fingers pointing to your back. To feel the movement higher in your rib cage, turn your hand the same way with the thumb facing forward, or cross your arms so that your right hand is on your left ribs and your left hand is on your right ribs. With your hands on your ribs, open the ribs slowly to feel the stretch of the intercostals — the muscles between the ribs. Repeat several times. Send air to your ribs or flex open your ribs as you inhale. As you sing, allow your ribs to gradually move back in. If raising your arms over your head isn’t comfortable, you can lie on your side. Putting your arms above your head is ideal, but you can get the same sense of movement in the ribs with your arm bent at the elbow or extended in front of you. Other positions you can try are standing with your arms extended straight out on each side. Position the arms just slightly behind your body so your chest is open. In this position, you may especially feel the opening of the upper ribs. When your arms tire, you can put your hands on your hips and continue exploring the opening of the ribs. It’s fine to practice with your hands on your hips to remind you to open your sides and ribs. When the opening is familiar, you can put your arms down by your side and find the same opening.

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Components of Good Posture: Walking with Ease

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Maintaining your posture while walking makes a big difference in your appearance and your ability to sing while walking or moving. You may actually have to sing while walking around the stage. Church choirs sing as they process, and backup singers groove to the music as they dance. What if you have to cross the stage? You want to look glorious for the entire time that you’re onstage and not just when you land in place next to the piano. To maintain your posture while walking, keep your eyes up and look ahead as you walk. You can still see where you’re going even if you’re not looking at the ground. You also want to be able to land in correct alignment. When you have to walk onto the stage for a performance, you want to land in alignment so you don’t have to adjust your position. Practice finding your alignment when you’re standing still. Then walk a few steps and land in place. Did you land in the same alignment? Look down at your feet to see whether they’re parallel and the same distance as your hipbones. If not, try again: Walk around and then land in alignment. Eventually, you’ll confidently land in alignment and know that your body is ready for some fabulous singing. You also want to practice walking with an awareness of the weight and pressure on your legs. You want to feel the sensation that your weight is evenly distributed on your legs and feet and have a sense of buoyancy. Feeling your weight sink into your legs makes you feel much heavier. Pushing into the floor or pavement causes you to feel pressure and tension in your legs. Of course, you want to connect your feet to the floor, but you want to feel an opening sensation, as if your feet touching the floor causes your legs and muscles to open — not contract and tense. Try walking and pushing into the floor, and then walking and visualizing your body with springs that open when your feet connect with the floor.

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Components of Good Singing Posture: Feet Position

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Regardless of the width of your shoulders, for good singing posture you want to align your feet under your hips. A lot of people tend to put their feet at shoulder width, which may or may not work for you. Women tend to have narrow shoulders and wider hips, whereas men tend to have wide shoulders and narrow hips. You should place the feet side by side under your hips so that you feel the equal balance of weight on your feet. When that stance feels familiar to you, change the position of your feet and maintain the balance of weight in your body. You want equal distribution of weight and effort in the body. You can also stand with your toes pointed out, to feel the tension created in the legs. Likewise, you can stand with your toes pointed in and notice that effect on the muscles in your legs. You want to explore the feeling of toes pointed straight and the feeling of parallel feet. Your toes may seem like cute little extensions of your feet, but they also play a role in your balance. Stand with your weight balanced on the three points. Now lift your toes and notice the sensations of the three points. Most people find that lifting the toes helps them feel the three points. You can put your toes down and feel the same sensation of balance on the three points. Push your toes into the floor and notice the sensation in your feet and your legs. Pushing them down creates tension. Practice without your shoes on so that you can observe your feet and toes while you practice. During your practice sessions, wiggle your toes occasionally to make sure that they aren’t tight and that they’re ready to help you stay balanced. Pretend that you have a tube inside your body that runs all the way from your head down to your feet. Open this tube all the way into your feet each time you inhale. Opening this imaginary tube makes you grounded and ready to sing the next phrase of your song. Each time you inhale, you want to open and release all the way into your feet. It may feel as if your feet open or widen as you take the breath.

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