5 Singing tips from a barfly

In the past few years I've been singing in noisy bars a fair amount. Anyone who sings should work with a professional coach, but I think we have a lot to learn from each other too. I've found a lot of blog posts and youtube videos that have helped me learn to sing better. If you have suggestions, experience, criticism or other thoughts please leave a comment!

1) Sing close to the microphone, but not too close.
For the sound check I sing some middle volume notes a few inches from the mic. Then I can back off on loud notes and get closer for soft notes.

2) Politely ask the sound person for more or less vocal in the monitor.
Often they can't hear my voice in the monitor and they don't know how loud I perform or how close to the mic I sing. Having the vocals at the right volume is critical to good singing.

3) Drink water beforehand and don't hurt yourself.
I was shouting and straining to sing high notes and eventually I developed a grumble in my voice. I had to stop singing for a few months for it to go away. I'm sure I'm lucky that it wasn't worse.

3) Breath deep but don't overdo it. Nice deep breaths provide the foundation to my singing. It feels best for me to keep the breath bellow my chest but above my stomach  Breathing too deep makes me uncomfortable and doesn't really help my singing.

4) Sing with a lower larynx.
For me it feels like the start of a breath or a smile and a laugh in the back of my mouth. Early on when I tried to keep my larynx low I held it down with base of my tongue. This was incorrect technique. It wasn't until I started focusing on how lower larynx singing sounds that I was able to make progress. It helped me to think about Darius Rutger's voice. He has a very rich sound that goes along with a lower larynx. When I sing with a high larynx it gets very tiring and cuts off my high notes.

5) Find and develop your head voice
When I sing high notes without shouting and straining I feel a slight sensation in my face and head. If I sing high notes with to much force I feel the sensation in my throat. For me the best way to build the higher part of voice was to focus on the sound.

Head voice singing doesn't sound like shouting, but it also doesn't sound like falsetto*. I think about the following sounds: a person crying or sobbing, a witch cackling, a person pretending to be a cat. When Kurt Cobain or Black Francis from the pixies cry out high notes you can really hear this head voice sound. In the song Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows, Adam Duritz sings a very head voice sounding bridge. I was sitting at a keyboard imitating sobbing noises when I first sang with my head voice. Also my undeveloped head voice sounded quite awful.

*some people consider their falsetto to be head voice and what I described above as mixed voice.

Thanks for reading! If you have thoughts, suggestions or advice please leave a comment!