Are you interested in learning a simple, inexpensive way to help you improve your voice and sing better? Recording your voice and then listening back to the recording is a method used by many singers to help them self-diagnose any issues with their singing voice, and then take the steps necessary to correct them. Taking advantage of the opportunity to listen to your voice and hear it the way others do is a great way of picking up things you may be doing wrong without even noticing – things that are very likely to prevent you from singing better.
[Just a quick note about choosing simple music recording software to capture your voice – if you have a Mac, use Garageband. If you have a PC, I’d download Mixcraft – there’s a free trial if you want to test it out.]
Below is a list of ten critical questions you should be asking as you listen to a recording of yourself singing.
1. Have I learned the melody and lyrics correctly? Are there any parts of the song where I forget the words, or the melody isn’t quite correct (do a listen-through while reading the sheet music if possible).
2. Am I singing in time with the accompanist or backing track? Am I ever too fast or too slow, particularly at the beginning of phrases?
3. Is my voice the same volume all the way through, or do I make the song more interesting by adding dynamics and singing more softly in some places, or adding more emphasis or power somewhere else?
4. Am I in pitch? Do I hit every note straight in its centre, or do I sometimes waver or slide into the correct pitch after I’ve already sung the note?
5. Is there an evenness of tone throughout my voice, from the lowest notes right up to the highest notes? Is there a noticeable change in quality, tone or volume when I sing higher or lower notes?
6. Am I taking noticeable intakes of breath in the middle of phrases? Do I tend to run out of breath before I can finish a line of music, and am I filling up with enough air during the breaks in the song?
7. Do I overuse vibrato? Do most of the notes I sing have a wavering, vibrato tone, or do I use vibrato more selectively to give emphasis only where it’s appropriate?
8. Do I convey any kind of emotion or depth of feeling when I sing the song? Can I easily identify the main emotion that is the driving force behind the song’s lyrics?
9. Do I sound like I really believe the words that I’m singing? Is the essence of the song being delivered straight to the listener?
10. Am I ready to share this recording with other people, or perform this song in front of an audience, or would I prefer to be able to sing it better before I launch myself into anything more public?
If you can answer these questions honestly, and take notes on the things you wish to address you will be in a great position to start targeting problem areas that are preventing you from singing your best. A good next step is to enrol in a recommended singing program so that you can learn special vocal exercises designed to help you overcome your vocal stumbling blocks and cultivate the singing voice you’ve always wanted. Recording your voice regularly as you progress is a smart way not only to improve, but to track your achievements and see just how far you’ve come.