Seven top tips to make you a better singer
Most people like to belt out their favourite tunes in the shower from time to time - but not everyone feels confident enough to sing in front of other people.
Composer and vocalist Kerry Andrew has shared her top tips for making the most of your voice, whether you're a budding choir member or just want to become a bit more tuneful.
Kerry's a cappella song No Place Like features on the latest set of Ten Pieces, which are packed with resources for teachers and home educators to get young people inspired by classical music.
Watch a performance of No Place Like below and then read Kerry's seven top tips for becoming a more confident vocal performer:
1. Work on your breathing
Your shoulders do not need to move when you breathe in for singing - it all happens much lower down.
Put your hands around your waist and imagine as you breathe in that you are filling out your sides with lots of lovely air.
Do this to a count, breathing in for 4 and out for 4.
Then, when you are practising your singing, make sure you are still filling out your sides when you breathe in!
2. Get that jaw working
A great way to warm your face up for a singing session is to pretend you are chewing a massive piece of chewing gum.
The gum gets BIGGER as you chew it!
3. Warm up
My favourite singing warm-up is a very simple one which prepares your facial muscles and your vocal chords.
Make a horse-like 'brrrr' sound by rolling your lips, and slide up and down in pitch - higher and lower - as you do so.
If this is difficult, you could instead roll your tongue ('rrrr') or, even easier, do your best revving motorbike sound by making a 'vvvv' sound.
4. Open your mouth
Your mouth needs to open even more than you think when singing and your tongue need to work hard.
Tongue-twisters are a good way to practice this.
My favourite tongue-twister is: 'A proper cup of coffee from a proper coffee pot.'
You could also sing the word 'Popocatépetl' (it’s a Mexican volcano, you know, and pronounced 'pop-o-cat-a-petal') on a scale. Sing the whole word on each note as you go up and then come back down.
Watch an introduction to Kerry's piece to see how she composed her song.
5. Drink a lot beforehand...
But it's got to be water! I’m afraid delicious fizzy drinks are BANNED in my top tips.
6. It's all about posture
When performing, it’s important that you stand correctly.
This means having both feet flat on the floor a little apart, and keeping your hands by your sides unless you’re holding music (or doing awesome dance moves).
Remember to keep those shoulders down!
7. And practise practise practise!
I have only had a couple of singing lessons in my life, and whilst they are definitely a very good thing, you can learn a lot simply by DOING as well.
Sing with your best karaoke computer programme, sing to the radio, in the shower, in the car.
Whether you're pretending you're the lead singer of a band, in a choir, belting out chart ballads or singing your favourite aria like an opera star - give it your all! The more you sing the more confident you will feel.
It's also really useful to record yourself on your computer, your phone or a recording device, to hear yourself back and decide how you can be better next time, whether it's making sure you stay in tune, or singing a word more clearly, or opening your mouth more.