Learning how to improve your singing voice can sometimes be frustrating. I know how it feels when you love to sing, but struggle to get it the right way.
For those, who are looking for a solution, this article is for you. In the next couple of minutes, I’ll talk about 3 common singing mistakes and how to fix them.
Common Singing Mistake #1 – Reaching for High Notes
This is by far on the top of the most common singing mistakes untrained vocalists make. The higher the notes they want to sing, the more they are reaching to get them.
The real problem here is, that singers lift their larynx when going higher in pitch.
I know, it seems to be a natural reflex to lift your larynx when singing higher notes. Truth is, the ideal position for the larynx would be very relaxed and “neutral”. Some singers recognize their problem and want to fix it by holding the larynx down.
That’s neither healthy nor does it sound very good. (DO you know Kermit The Frog?).
What happens when you lift your larynx?
- You sound narrow, weak, and crimped.
- You maybe end up screaming out your high notes
- You show a desperate look on your face.
And honestly, that’s not what we want.
So, how to go about it?
To be honest, it will take some time and serious practicing to retrain your body and mind. The best way to do this is by learning a proper and solid vocal technique. You can start with these 4 Ways To Improve Your Singing Voice or you can join an online singing program.
Fortunately, there are some helpful exercises that can help you right now.
- Have The Right Idea of High Notes (mental exercise)
We have to turn our thinking upside down. So, when we want to sing HIGH, we must think LOW.
Don’t reach for the high notes like for the stars in the sky, rather dig them out from deep down below.
- Do Squats
This is a great (physical) exercise where you actually feel a high note low in your body.
Sing an ascending scale with 3-4 notes. At the top note, you do a squat. What happens is that the highest note of the scale will instantly feel like the lowest.
- Hold Your Jaw
This is also a good one… but you have to be careful.
Put your hand on your jaw and gently push it backward. Your larynx is now locked in a relaxed position.
Start singing a scale and keep that position with your hand. As your body is now unable to engage and lift the larynx, he will lookout for new strategies to sing higher notes.
As a result, he will use the “right” muscles. You just have to be careful and don’t force anything in this process. Start low and give your body the chance to adapt to this new way of singing little by little.
Common Singing Mistake #2 – Singing Out of Tune
This is another big one amongst the most common singing mistakes. And it’s probably the reason number one, why so many people shy away from singing in front of other people.
For many people (listeners) it’s just like this…
You can have the worst technique or even a horrible sounding voice…but if you can hit the right notes… people will say you can sing.
When I started out, I struggled terribly with singing on pitch. Although (in my head) I knew exactly the notes of the melody, it came out totally different.
The common belief is, that we can’t fix this.
You often hear people say: “I just can’t sing.” or “I don’t have a voice”.
But I can tell you from my very own experience…
Singing Out of Tune Is Something You CAN Fix.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s behind singing off-key…
Although the exact reason for singing off-key remains unknown, there are two things for sure. It’s not your ears… it’s your brain.
It’s not your vocal cords…it’s voice placement and muscle tension.
Hmm, sounds a bit complex, doesn’t it?
Well, actually it’s not.
Yes, there is something you can do about it. I’ve already shared some strategies in How To Sing On Pitch and How To Sing In Tune Instantly
But Basically… This Is The Roadmap to Singing On-Key:
- Ear Training: The term is a little misleading, because -as I already mentioned- it has nothing to do with your ears, but with your brain.
I just recommend everyone to start with eartraining. It’s a great foundation for singing in-tune every single time.
There are some great programs out there. I’ve reviewed the one, I worked with. So, if you want to get more information check out Earmaster 7 Pro Review
- Brain synchronization: You only need a pen and a piece of paper for syncing your brain in less than 10 minutes. Draw circles clockwise and counterclockwise as well as lazy 8s. I’ve talked more about this method in this article.
- Body tension: It’s little-known, but having the proper (muscle) tension is key to singing on or off-pitch.
To put it simply: If you’re too flabby – you’ll sing flat. If you’re too strained – you’ll sing sharp.
Common Singing Mistake #3 – Singing Outside Your Range
I still don’t know why someone would rather crack, scream, and almost die at “We are the champions” than adapting it to his own abilities.
Or even better… choose another song.
Quite frankly, only amateurs make this mistake.
If a professional singer covers a song, he can’t sing in the original keys, he will always transpose it down or makes his own version.
Just listen to John Mayer’s version of “Free falling“ (RIP Tom Petty).
There is a saying…
“Life is a sales pitch.”
Whether you like it or not, it’s true.
And when you’re singing in front of an audience, no matter if you do it for a living or just as a hobby, you sell your music and yourself to others.
If they “buy” it, you will get fame and fortune.
So, why not…
Become a Smart Singer
- Buy a capo and find the ideal key for your voice.
- Choose those songs, already written within your range, or…
- Write your own songs. Learn more about this at How To Learn To Write Songs
Over the years, I’ve noticed 3 common singing mistakes, primarily newbies or untrained singers make.
- Reaching for high notes
- Singing out of tune
- Singing outside your range.
It’s my deepest belief, that every one of these common singing mistakes can be fixed. There are several strategies in place.
If you are willing to put some work and effort into it, and follow-through, you will be rewarded with a new voice.
In fact, singing will be so much more fun.
One day it will be hard to believe that you even made these common singing mistakes.
If you want to start getting a better voice then read 4 Ways To Improve Your Singing Voice and do ALL the exercises…NOW!
To your singing success
26 thoughts on “3 Common Singing Mistakes – Which One Are You Making?”
I was looking for some information about singing out of tune and pitching problems when I came across your article, and I’m glad I did. It provides so much useful information that I might apply now. For example, I wasn’t aware that you can actually resolve these singing problems. I always thought you either have a good singing voice or you don’t and that you can only fine tune your voice a bit. But having solutions to fix problems is very good news for my daughter. She loves musical theatre and being on stage but her weak point is singing. I think it would be a good idea for her to practice with one of the online programs available. What do you think would be best for her – Singorama or Earmaster 7 Pro?
Earmaster is really all about pitch training in a very natural and fun way. I worked with this program some years ago and really got fantastic and quick results. So, if she’s mainly struggling on pitch than I would start with this one. If she in general has a weak and insecure singing voice (e.g. can’t hold a note long enough, struggling on high notes) than she should get a full training like Singorama or hook up with a vocal teacher.
This is a very interesting article. Quite frankly I always believed that people that could sing were born with that ability and your article has opened my eyes to the fact that anyone willing to work for it can in fact do it. That is awesome. Thanks for the insight and great tips on how to get that great voice.
You’re most welcome. Thanks for reading and discussing.
This is a great article outlining the most common mistakes people make when trying to learn how to sing. One of those vocal courses you mentioned would be invaluable- I’ll definitely have to check something like that out. My worst thing is reaching for high notes – even way before I get to one I can feel myself tensing up in anticipation, which is terrible I know! Your idea to think low and even do a squat at the top makes a lot of sense. If nothing else the squat will engage some other muscles and distract you from the tension in your larynx (maybe?). Thanks for sharing these tips!
I know this problem and it’s a vicious circle. In fact, learning to sing is not building up new muscles. We have everything we need. It’s much more about your brain coordinating those muscles right. So sometimes we have to trick our own mind until it sees “Oh,I can sing that note without straining, cracking, you name it.” Confidence grows and soon you can’t even imagine that you once had a problem here. So the squat is such a trick.
This is such good information and I am happy to have read it.
You probably hear this a lot but I have no singing voice. I really like how you addressed that some people are not into it and others want to express themselves. I am the other but don’t have the confidence to do so – Unless the music is really loud and no one can hear me.
I will take your tips into consideration however and I thank you for that!
Yes, I hear that a lot and I can only advice you to take this information and make a first step. From my own experience, I can tell you, that singing is so much more fun, when you know how to do it right. Go ahead and let me hear about your results. Maybe I can help.
Haha this is a great article, I am one of those people who sing completely out of tune. I just don’t sing because I am one of those people that just believe I can’t sing. Although i have tried practicing myself at times and I sound ok when I record myself. Perhaps the Earmaster 7 might be able to benefit me. I’ll have to bookmark this and revisit this when I have some extra money. Thanks for this.
Absolutely, I can only tell you that I also struggled with pitch a long time. I’ve worked with an older version of Earmaster and got really astounding and fast results. Wouldn’t write about it otherwise.
Great article. Would recommend it to my brother who always sings out of tone. Hope he doesn’t take it the wrong way. LOL
Hi Vanessa, thanks for reading. If he loves singing and wants to improve his pitch, than he should really go in for eartraining tools. You get really fast results.
This is a great article. I learned a lot reading your article. You are spot on about these mistakes. I sing but definitely far from being a pro. I actually have made this mistakes and had no idea that these are actually mistakes. I appreciate you sharing this article and shedding some light. Keep up with the great work.
Thank you Hong for reading and discussing. Now that you know your spotted your weak areas, I can only encourage you to give it a try and work on them. You’ll be amazed what changes you will see over time.
I love singing.
Reaching for higher notes has been my struggle, so I usually sing songs that don’t require high notes, but another problem comes in. In these low-pitch songs, there are very low notes that I struggle with as well.
I just sing to enjoy myself and for entertainment when I am with family and close friends, so I just try to sing the best that I can.
Enjoyed reading your post.
I think that this article would truly benefit people interested in a singer career. The first mistake “reaching for high notes” reminds me all those singers who go on Reality TV shows as American Idol, American Got Talent and more. Most of those singers in the audition phase are just terrible especially when they try to hit high notes. I think this article would help them improve. Thank you for all the great information as I truly enjoyed reading your article.
Hi Sonia, thanks for your comment. Actually, I salut every single one, who dares to go to those huge commercial singing auditions. But there are a lot of people, who never really sang, learned to sing – you name it. Having a solid foundation would definitely improve their chances on performing way better.
Your page really covers everything on the common mistakes you can come across when it comes to singing, and also on the ways you could probably avoid them. This would certainly make one want to pay more attention to their singing especially when in a live audience as well as in the midst of a group of people.
I’m not being picky here, but I really think Sibilance should be included in the list – especially from a female singer’s point of view!
Over the years I’ve spent 100’s of hours automating vocal tracks due to a female having that whistling effect on the ‘s’ and ‘t’ letters. At times it drives you to tears (as you push it too far and the singer sounds like they’ve got a lisp!).
What advice would you give a singer that suffers from bad Sibilance?
Thank you Chris, that’s a good point you mentioned, although more an issue with recording music. Anyways, from a vocal technique point of view, you normally don’t specifically address sibilance. However, there are two directions that will improve it. AIr compression: When you have a good singing technique, you will have no big deviation in volume if you sing low or high – of course a bit, but you literally act like a compressor. Secondly, good voice placement will move the voice from the throat to your resonance cavities. Eventually your pronunciation improves, which also benefits sibilance.
Very interesting article it is true that singing is not as simple as it looks. There is a lot of things to take in to consideration and it also takes a lot of practice. I’m no singer myself but I happen to sing in my car sometimes and damn it’s hard sometimes. Very interesting tricks that can help to learn how to sing better.
Felix, I found your post fascinating. I love singing (not so well, but with a lot of fervor) and, for sure, I am guilty of the Big Three. I valiantly try for the high notes and crash and burn. I always seem to be just a little bit off the tune. And it always seems like the songs I like best are always outside my range, such as it is.
I’m relieved to know that a lot of that is physical and fixable. Cool!
Oh wow, I have all three mistakes. Never thought these can be fixed. Always just assumed singing is a gift and I’m always jealous at people who can sing.
I love that you showed us the course of these mistakes as well. I’ll try the solutions you suggested and maybe finally I can sing.
Thank you very much for sharing this.
Hello there, I loved and enjoyed learning about singing and the mistakes one can make while trying to sing.
Personally, I love to sing when I work, I generally sound better when I sing in my native language but when I sing in other languages like French or English I find it very difficult. I don’t know why.
Oddly, the only songs I am able to sing are high pitched songs, I also am able to sing as a choral or opera (lady’s voice, i am a man), my friends tell me I would be a good singer if I practice enough but I am too shy to take lessons. I improved my natural voice but I find my voice annoying to listen to. I guess it is psychological.
I know I will never be a good singer, unless I really put some hard work in it, but I would love to sing better and impress my artists’ friends during karaokes.
thanks for your advice, I’ll practice 🙂
Hello Felix, how are you?
OMG, I am gratful that I find your Article. I love music, but I am the kind of person that have melody and sing too laud. In my church somethimes I see people sterring me with a durty look or even move to other seat.
I fill bad, becouse everytime I try to sing lower, I get a etching in my throat and I starts to sneezing and coughing, is horrible. Is’s getted iven worse because half of my throat is fronzen after I had a stroke; you are right, music has something do with the brain.
Also we have 2 guys in our praising time that sings so lower that changes the melody very badly. I don’t have a good voice, but I think I can notice when someone is out of piach. Believe or not, I dream music, I eat music, I live music. I cant’t live with out music. I think about music all the time and even I don’t wan’t to learn or sing some kind of music, if I rearing 2 times, I get myself singing the music; happened allots time.
Question: Because I have a very bad habit to sing laud, do you think with allos pratice, I can became a good singer someday?
All success to you,
The only time I feel like I can sing a high pitch and get away with it is while I am in the shower lol – I know a lot of people who are training to be singers but they are just not *quite there yet* and they always attempt to do one of these exercises such as singing really high, or off tune, you are right – it has something to do with our brains and how we are hearing ourselves. I also believe that anyone can sing with practice. I am sure people like Jennifer Lopez didn’t start out with a stellar voice ( she really doesn’t have one right now but she is still a famous singer) practice! practice! practice! Only then you will get it right.
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