Diction for Singers: 5 Exercises & Practical Guide
Clear diction in singing is important for a number of reasons and should be practised on alongside developing your voice. In this guide we cover the basics of diction for singers and some techniques, which you can use today, to improve your singing diction:
What does diction mean?
Diction is the distinctiveness of speech. It is the art of speaking so that each word is clearly heard. In music, this is very important as without it songs may lose their meaning to the listener. So what is diction for singers?
What is diction in singing?
When singing, you are often telling a story or sharing thoughts with your audience through your lyrics. Therefore, it’s vital that the lyrics can be distinguished in order for your listener to understand the meaning of the song. The clarity in pronunciation of your lyrics is referred to as ‘singing diction’ or diction in singing. If the lyrics to a song aren’t clear, then the song may be meaningless to your audience.
Much of the success of some of the biggest artists can be attributed to the meaning found in the lyrics of their songs. Through this, the artist was able to make a personal connection to their listeners.
For some singers, words can become slurred, mumbled and lazy sounding. The most common causes of poor singing diction can be any or all of the following;
- Mouth shape while singing
- Tongue placement
- Poor control of breathing
- Strong accents and dialects
Diction Exercises for Singers
Here are some very simple diction exercises for singers that you can try yourself to help improve your technique.
#1 Practise your consonants
Work on improving the clarity consonants. Tong-twisters are an excellent tool to help you become a master of consonants and avoid slip-ups when singing.
#2 Practise your vowels
Poor pronunciation of vowels, while singing, can cause your listeners to miss your lyrics. To improve your pronunciation of vowel sounds, practice each vowel: ah, ee, ay, oh, oo.
#3 Combine consonants and vowels
Once you have mastered both consonants and vowels, combine the two: mah, meh, me, mo, moo. Followed by, vah, veh, ve, vo, voo.
#4 Do lip trills
Lip trills allow you to control your breathing, master the movement of the tongue and warm up your voice.Video: How to do a lip trill by Vocal Coach Dylan
#5 Practise better breath control
Once you have mastered the singing diction techniques above, practise breath control. Pick your favourite tongue-twister and aim to say it all in one breath. This will help you to control how much air your expel when you speak and sing.
Singing diction and the way you speak
If you have a tendency to rush and mumble your speech you will find by working on your diction for singing that your speech will also improve.
Singing diction and vocal coaching
Vocal coaches can help you to develop better singing diction by incorporating exercises into your voice training that will undo bad habits and start building new ones.
Caution: Shameless plug ahead! Continue reading below.
Although this may feel challenging at first, with practise, you’ll be surprised how quickly singing diction will become second nature to you. You’ll find the tone, clarity, range and control also improves as a result of clearer diction.
If you are working with a vocal coach, do make sure you’re clear on the style of singing that is right for you. Good diction is important across all styles.
Do you struggle with singing diction? What diction techniques do you find most beneficial? Let us know in the comments below.