Most singers sing with a great deal of excess effort. When a singer first experiences easy singing, they often remark that singing with so much ease certainly can’t be right. Please understand that effort and tension do not make a better voice.
If you look tortured while you are singing, chances are you sound tortured as well (and your audience may also feel tortured to boot). If you can’t sing without grimacing or making faces it’s probably an indication that you need to rethink your technique.
Veins bulging at the neck, eyebrows raising, frowning, protruding jaw, trumpet lips, wrinkled nose.. these are all undesirable facial tensions singers commonly have. It’s not only unattractive to look at these contortions, but the sound is almost always ugly as well. You don’t want an ugly sound, you want to sing beautifully.
How you look while you sing is often a reflection of how you sound. Learn to practice in front of a mirror. Vocalize with a pleasant expression on your face. Your face should have a gentle and natural look while you are vocalizing. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for you to open your mouth wide in order to sing well. The more natural and free your mouth, jaw and face are when you are vocalizing, the better your tone will be.
Your tongue is very strong; learn to avoid allowing it to be overly tense when you sing. Too often, singers have rocks for tongues. My first voice teacher always taught me to keep my tongue free and “suspended;” she said, “allow the tip of your tongue to rest on the gum-line of your lower teeth” (note: that’s resting, not thrusting forward).
Keep your tongue suspended and free when you are singing, this way it can assist in making vowels and consonants naturally and spontaneously, but also remain free from any excess tension that might disrupt a beautiful tone. Avoid the common mistake of singing with your tongue pulled back, pressed down and/or tense. This always results in an unattractive quality of tone and can contribute to fatigue in the voice.
Easy singing goes hand in hand with effortless breathing. There is so much nonsense that is taught about breathing that contributes to a great deal of tension in singing. Breathing for singing is as natural as breathing for speaking. The best way to train yourself to breathe well for singing, is to learn how to stand up tall. If you have good posture, your breathing will pretty much take care of itself.
It really doesn’t take all that much breath to sing well. In fact, if you are capable of singing on a “indispensable minimum” of breath, your tone is usually very beautiful. Breathing should never be tense, nor forceful. Remember–all singing exercises are breathing exercises. The only breathing exercises that are useful, are the ones that teach you how to breathe naturally, with no excess tension, and allow you to sing on a small, easy stream of breath. Breath support is something that you will build naturally over time through singing well. Good breathing, like all aspects of good singing, is never forceful nor violent, and always remains free and easy.
Easy Singing is Beautiful Singing
No beautiful tone has ever come from a tense instrument. While it is true that singers are athletes, the athletic aspect of singing is something that is built up gradually, over time. There should never be a feeling of pushing or excess effort when you sing. Singing that sounds beautiful to the listener, also feels wonderful to the singer.