Six tips to setting voice development goals

voice development

Improve your singing in 2019 by setting clear, achievable voice development goals. Top vocal coach Joshua Alamu explains how.

1) Vision

Get a clear picture of what you are aiming for with your vocal style by writing a list. This can be as extensive as you see fit; the aim is to get a clear sense of direction about what you want to see and hear within your own voice. Write it down so that it serves as a blueprint for you and your vocal coach.

Ask yourself: What do I want my voice to be able to do? How high do I want to be able to sing? What stylistic nuances/sounds can I explore? Who are the artists that I like or sound like? How can I develop more musicality to complement my technical ability? What styles of music can I draw inspiration from? What kind of teacher do I need?

2) Listen

Singing style develops with time, experience and a whole lot of listening. Be curious about different genres of music and pay attention to the vocal delivery. Make notes about what makes each vocal approach different. To broaden your intuitive vocal expression capabilities, you need to be open to the unusual, the weird and even the “wrong or bad” sounds that our voices can make. Don’t just listen to the kind of music that appeals to you.

3) Practice

Vocal coaches are always banging on about practice from a technique point of view, but it also helps you develop your vocal nuances. These are the subtle shades of variation and expression that a voice can produce. Practice all the weird and wonderful “wrong and bad” sounds and vocal colours that you have been listening to. Spend time mimicking and imitating them for the purpose of learning. Embrace making mistakes as you explore. Work with a good vocal coach to develop this safely and with consistency. Once you have explored the various sounds, work on the aesthetic quality of the sounds that you are exploring. This is where you begin to develop stylistic skills and start to cross over into vocal mastery. Work on exercise routines that increase range, power and improvisational ability and explore the plethora of vocal qualities that your voice can make.

4) Reinvent songs

Have fun with existing songs. Modify the melody, and throw in some studied improvisation and a few licks or riffs. Add rougher nuances where it was smooth or smooth nuances where it was rough – let your imagination run wild. Explore various onsets and offsets, phrasing, dynamics, improvisation, breath, diction and accents. Record these vocal experiments and decide what you want to keep or place aside for another set of vocal ideas.

5) Perform

Set goals that involve you going out there and performing. This helps to build confidence in your work and to see how people react to what you do. It also gives you the opportunity to put what you have been working so hard to achieve into a real-life context. People need to hear you. It might be scary at first but becomes very enlightening and rewarding after some trial and error.

6) Assess and re-assess

Review your short, mid and long-term goals regularly. When considering all this information think about how you are going to apply it. Develop a good structure and be accountable to someone. Find someone whom you trust and let them give you some advice on how things can improve or feedback on what they enjoyed from your performance.

Joshua Alamu is a professional voice coach with over 15 years experience as a singing teacher in the music and television industry. He has been a voice coach for the TV talent show The Voice UK and is currently vocal coach stars such as Fleur East, Little Mix and JP Cooper. Joshua’s video-enhanced vocal style course Mad About Vocal Style part 1 was launched in 2014 to rave reviews. Joshua is also the co-founder of Ultimate Artists, the UK’s most in-demand artist development camp (eight days of music industry mentorship and artist development).