Today I want to give you a couple of tips that you can apply to find your natural voice. This is quite a big topic that is totally underestimated. A habit many singers have is that they want to sound like their favorite singers. Now there’s nothing wrong with this! Imitating sounds and different voices are actually the best way to broaden your vocal vocabulary, but shouldn’t be the only way you sing. Why?
Let´s say you have a beautiful, clean and soft voice but you are in love with Beyonce’s Music. Now her voice or way of singing is very powerful and growly and if you try imitating her sound with your soft and clean voice, you might hurt yourself.
Next to exploring other singers’ voices, it is important to explore your own voice. And I know from myself that in the beginning, I didn’t like the sound of my voice at all. So if that applies to you, you’re not alone! In fact, not liking the sound of your own voice is so common that there’s a term for it: voice confrontation. An explanation that is often found in popular media is, that our recorded voice doesn’t sound like the voice we hear in our heads, so is not what we expect to hear, and why we don’t like it.
But you were born with this voice, so get over this psychological barrier, fall in love with your true voice, and make the best out of it.
Benefits of singing in your true voice
- You sing with an original and authentic and unique sound
- It will come with more ease and you will strain less because you use what you have instead of adding something that you don’t have in your voice
- You´ll be able to sing for longer periods of time
How to find your own, natural voice
Speaking is much closer to singing than we think! It comes automatically and believe it or not, it has quite a range and a lot of different textures and sound colors already. So why should you alter your singing voice, force a superficial sound on it and thereby strain it, when your voice offers many natural and beautiful sounds?
- Your voice is loud when you shout
- Your voice is soft when you whisper
- Your voice is high when you are excited
- Your voice is lower in the morning
These voice alterations happen without thinking about it and all you need to do is sort of translate the sounds you can already make, to your singing voice.
You have to keep in mind though that there are specific things you need to do when you are singing, that aren’t needed for speaking, like:
- Breath support
- Proper posture
- Abdominal breathing
- Jaw in natural position
You got these things going or at least sort of know what I am talking about?
Then let’s dive into 3 tips and exercises that will help you to find your natural voice!
Whenever you sing, pick a key that is close to the range that you normally speak in! In order to find out in what range you speak in, speak in slow-motion and listen to the notes you hit. This is just your speaking voice so don’t expect great interval jumps! You´ll probably find a range of 3-5 notes, which are in the most comfortable range of your voice.
Say this poem in Slow motion and listen to the notes you hit:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down today.
Nothing gold can stay.
Out of Comfort zone
Now being aware of your comfort zone, you can start exploring where this comfort zone stops and where you switch from your speaking voice, also called chest voice, to your falsetto voice, also called head voice.
The distinction between these two voices is very important! In order to find your natural voice, you need to know where your head voice starts, so that you can prepare your voice in time.
Why do you need to prepare it?
Because chest voice and head voice are created differently and if you don’t prepare the voice, there will be a very obvious switch/voice break. Now voice breaks can also be used as a stylistic tool, but it should be a choice and not just happen randomly.
Something that happens to untrained singers is that they don’t know where the head voice starts and continue singing in chest voice, already being in their head voice range. This is the moment you start sounding strained, pressed, and where you harm your vocal cords.
Find your open throat by imitating the beginning of a yawn. Sing an ascending line, with your throat in the beginning yawn position on „YAH“ starting in your speaking voice. There will be a moment where the sound of your voice changes or the voice flips from chest- to head voice. Try to capture the height of this voice break, by playing the note on a piano or recording your voice.
If you don’t have an instrument available you can also use our active vocal range test as a tool, to find out the note you are singing.
The so-called Passagio/mixed voice is the passage separating chest voice and head voice. It is important to realize where it is so that you know exactly where to start applying for more breath support. You need breath support because the higher you sing, the more diaphragm muscles need to be applied. (The Diaphragm gives the power for breath support).
Find your mixed voice through humming, sliding up like a siren. In the previous exercise, you have determined your voice break. don’t think about that voice break during this exercise. You will most probably reach notes that are higher than your determined voice break. Furthermore, the sound doesn’t change even though it’s going higher. This is your mixed voice.
These are ways you can explore your voice, which will eventually lead you to find your own natural voice. As mentioned above, it is a sound you will need to get used to! But it is your voice and you should embrace its uniqueness and the fact that no one else sounds like you. Singing in your own voice means fewer vocal problems, like straining, and having more endurance for long gigs or practicing periods. Knowing your own voice will also make it easier to choose the right repertoire and genre. If you feel like you’re falling back into old habits, imitating other singers, remember, that you just need to go back to your speaking voice and work from there.
Freya´s singing tips – Finding your natural voice
Ramsey Voice Studio – How to find your natural voice, 5 steps
Victoria Rapanan – Find your true singing voice