Many performers use exercises to learn how to project their voice when they sing on stage. It is very important for performers to learn how to project their voice without shouting appropriately for any environment, making sure even the people in the back row can hear you loud and clear.
Vocal projection is about controlling the volume of your voice. You can learn how to project your voice better with vocal projection exercises that focus on breathing from your diaphragm, diction and resonance. Improving your diet and lessons will also help.
Vocal projection is also a great tool in assisting in bringing greater dynamics to the performance. Being able to successfully increase and decrease volume whilst singing is a vocal technique that can help enhance your performance and highlight the emotion in the song.
Why are voice projection exercises important in singing?
It is important to project your voice so that you aren’t shouting when you sing loudly. The projection comes from your diaphragm and won’t put nearly as much strain on your vocal cords as shouting and singing loudly will. It is also especially important for stage disciplines such as musical theatre where you can’t always rely on microphones.
And it’s not only so that you create a better quality of sound. A chief reason you need to nail this technique is for the health of your vocal cords, larynx and throat. Sing too loudly for too long incorrectly, and you’ll find you lose it pretty quickly. Especially when you come down with a cold or flu.
To have longevity in your singing career, or even as a hobby singer, you must be able to consistently project your voice without causing any damage. Singing in this way is also easier and will feel like less effort. You’ll be able to achieve more and bast out those tunes for ages.
How to project your voice when singing without shouting: Voice projection techniques
So how do you know if you’re not projecting properly, or if you’re singing in the wrong way? What are the tell-tale signs to look out for?
Do you ever have a sore throat after singing – does it keep coming back even when you don’t have a cold? Have people told you you have a harsh tone or sound ‘shouty’? Do you notice these things when listening to yourself back on recordings and videos? If so don’t despair. You’re not stuck with these afflictions. And a base shouty tone can even be useful for learning certain types of singing, such as belting. You just need to know how to harness it, adapt it and use it in the right way.
Projecting isn’t just about being louder. It’s about being capable of volume and resonance while sounding good. As with everything in music, practice makes perfect. So expect to put some time and effort in. Here are the exercises and techniques that’ll take you to a great voice.
#1 Exercise your vocal cords
In order to be able to project your voice successfully, you’ll need to start strengthening the muscles in your larynx which hold your vocal cords together. It’s difficult for power and volume to come through in your singing if these muscles aren’t strengthened. Working with a good vocal coach will really assist you in achieving this. But there are things you can do at home too.
The larynx muscles can be strengthened through volume exercises. One easy exercise for increased volume is to lie on the floor with your arms beside your head and breathe deeply for 2-3 minutes. Then, try taking a deep breath, hold it and as you do so, try and swallow. Next, sit on a chair and hold your breath. Place both hands under your chair. Pull as if you are trying to lift up your chair with you in it. Let go of your breath and say “ahh” while you continue to pull.
All of these exercises can be repeated a few times and will do well as part of you vocal exercise routine.
#2 Do vocal projection warm-ups
As always, warm up your vocals before trying any vocal projection exercises. You should warm up every time you intend to sing to help prevent potential damage to your voice. A great way to do this is to practice going up and down scales, hums or lip trills.
Exercises with your lips closed enable you to increase volume and gain power, without forcing or straining your voice. Work up as much volume as you can in this way first. Then move toward opening the mouth and letting the sound out, but without pushing from the throat.
How to project from your diaphragm
The diaphragm is your vocal powerhouse. If you work out you may know this area as your core. This muscle runs from the bottom of the chest to the abdomen. If you’re breathing from the right place your diaphragm will fill with air as you breathe in, expanding. Then relax and reduce as you breathe out. Place your hand on your stomach and try breathing. Your hand should move as you inhale and exhale.
#3 Breathe with your diaphragm
It’s important to remember to breathe from the diaphragm so that the chest rises and your shoulders don’t scrunch. It helps your lungs to increase their capacity and over time will give you more power in your voice.
Breathe deeply and make sure it’s form your stomach, not your chest. This is where your diaphragm is located and will help you generate a lot more projection power. There are many exercises you can work to improve the strength of your diaphragm. As with any muscle, if you stop using it for long periods of time it will get out of shape. So it needs ongoing work to stay strong.
#4 Practise breath control exercises
Breathing exercises are an easy way of developing and practising your projection. For example, breathe deeply and exhale on a hissing sound for 10 seconds. This will help with your breath control and help warm up your voice for the louder notes.
Forcing the sound out when you’re short on breath does nothing but damage your vocals. It’s also the number one cause of vocal nodules plus it will most likely cause you to lose control and tuning.
How to project your voice on stage: sing to the back wall
Actors are trained to speak on stage without microphones. An inside tip from the world of theatre that can also be useful for singers is to sing to your space. Look to the back of the room or auditorium. As you sing or speak, lift your chin slightly and think to the very back of that space. Throw your voice to the wall. This helps you modulate your voice to suit the venue – not too loud and not too soft.
It can help to practice this with speaking. Then move onto singing. Again, watch that you don’t feel any strain on your throat and that you’re supporting the voice properly with the breath. If you want to sing in musical theatre or opera, you’ll need to get very good at this. You will often have to sing without a mic and will certainly audition without any amplification. This is why opera singers are so loud. They get in a lot of practice at projecting.
#5 Work on vocal diction
Diction is the manner in which you pronounce your words. Whether you’re singing or speaking, diction is very important to help an audience understand you more clearly. Some letters when pronounced clearly, assist in the process of projection, this again, is a trick that actors use to their advantage.
Learning your lyrics is important but so is your breathing technique and tongue position. To really help improve diction, practice scales with the different singing vowels combined with consonants, such as mah, meh, me, mo, moo. You should also include tongue twisters in your daily routine. This skill will also be helpful if you have to give interviews, especially on the radio where your voice is everything.
#6 Improve your vocal resonance
Vocal resonance is more about the tone of your voice rather than the words. When you sing lower notes, you might feel it resonate in your chest and higher notes may resonate more in your head. Along with your mouth and nose, these are your resonators.
If you want to project better then you need to be using your resonators together. By mixing your chest and head voice, as well as opening your mouth more, you’ll be able to create more overtones that make your voice sound better and louder. Resonance often results in vibrato (a kind of pleasant wobble you hear when singers hold onto a note).
How to project your singing voice without shouting or yelling
If you need more volume it can be tempting to just yell. But this doesn’t sound good. Instead, you should develop proper technique for protection.
#7 Practise resonance exercises
You shouldn’t be yelling because it doesn’t count as singing and damages your voice. Controlling your breath, diction and resonance might even help you sing louder than you can yell. To help improve your resonance, try doing scales whilst singing Nae, Nja & Ng. Experiment singing in your ‘head voice’ and ‘chest voice’. See how much vibration you can create with your mouth closed. Then open and see how the sound rings out.
Vocal projection exercises for singers
So what else can you do to develop that loud and lovely voice you’ve always longed for? Let’s move on to more techniques suitable for both beginners and more advanced singers.
#8 Be more dynamic with volume
Volume exercises are good to help you practice dynamics and vocal modulation. Vary the loudness of your voice when using the sound ‘mmmmmmm’, start with a soft sound, then middle and then loud. Repeating this numerous times will help your projection and dynamic range. Projection isn’t only about being loud. You can sing with a whisper but still project to the back of the audience. Use plenty of breath and project softer notes.
Vocal modulation (being able to go from loud to soft, and change your tone at will) is a useful skill. It creates drama in performance and makes you more memorable. Here’s an example of some impressive vocal modulation in action.
How can I improve my vocal projection?
And it’s not just the vocal exercises and techniques that’ll lead you to a powerful and strong voice. Your lifestyle plays a big part too. Exercise and diet are important factors for singers t consider when working on improving the voice.
#9 Improve your diet and fitness
Certain foods and drinks are bad for your voice and will make it more difficult for you to project. Improving your diet can make your voice much healthier and capable of projecting more effectively, especially as your lungs will be in better shape. Have a look at our article on a singer’s diet to find out more.
Increased core strength and stamina also contributes to a powerful sound. Work on your lung capacity with activities like swimming, hiking and pilates. Aim to raise your heart rate for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. But also perform slower exercises that encourage slow, deep and sustained breathing patterns.
#10 Find a vocal coach
One of the more simple ways to improve your projection is to work with an experienced vocal coach. They will be able to build and develop your singing power and help you to eradicate any bad singing habits you’ve picked up along the way. A vocal coach will be able to help you with specific techniques that will be able to help your voice.
You may find it hard to identify where you’re going wrong. Somebody experienced, standing beside you while you sing, will troubleshoot and point you toward ways to fix any issues. If you want to sing professionally and long term, then vocal coaching is the way to go.
#11 Perfect your posture
The way in which you hold yourself has a direct correlation with the sound you make. Even if you have crisp diction, breathe deeply from your diaphragm and take care of your body, if you don’t stand up straight the sound doesn’t have a clear path out. Your shoulders should be back, your feet hip-width apart and your spine straight. Dip your chin slightly – at times you may wish to tip your head back, but do this in line with your spine.
Picture the sound flowing out from your belly, up through your throat and out of your mouth. If you slump and slouch it becomes blocked. This is a very simple technique that can change your sound in seconds. Good posture will also prevent injuries later in life, promoting spine health and protecting your muscles, ligaments and fascia. It will also give the impression of confidence on stage and creates a better image.
#12 Stretch and release
If you’re holding tension in your jaw, tongue or throat, the voice may not be free to get out – as with slouching. Make sure that all these areas are relaxed and released. Facial yoga will enable you to stretch these muscles out. Here are some other quick and easy things you can do:
- Poke the tongue right out then from side to side
- Massage the face and jaw gently
- Tip your head back to get a throat stretch, then right forward to achieve a neck stretch
- Open your mouth as wide as possible for a few seconds, then make it as small as possible
- Pretend to chew for a few seconds (it’s better to do it this way than with gum, as gum can give some people digestion issues)
#13 Get into a routine
These exercises must become a routine part of your day rather than doing it a couple of times and hoping it’ll work. Do all the exercises and techniques we’ve listed for 20 minutes every day and you’ll soon begin to hear and feel the changes in your vocal. And it’s not just your projection that’ll improve. So will your tone and your musicality.
You mustn’t skip exercises that seem boring. It’s tempting to move quickly onto songs. But the basic foundation you build from the soundless work with breathing and closed mouth techniques will stand you in good stead. Focus on these and the sounds will flow more easily.
The improved projection you’ll develop will mean more songs are opened up to you. Power ballads and belts are tough if you can’t muster the strength needed. But the good news is that everyone can project. So persist. Put in the practice time and you’ll be able to take on big numbers.
- How do you make your voice louder?
It could be you just need to open your mouth a little wider. If it’s too far closed the sound can’t get out and reach the audience. You may also need to use more breath to support the larger sound you want to create.
- How can I increase my voice volume?
If you’ve followed all these exercises and are still struggling to find volume, it may be a confidence issue. Shyness can cause us to become quieter. So it may be that you need to work on confidence in singing instead.
- How do I sing with more power in my voice?
Practice the voice projection exercises explained in this article. To increase in power, it helps to add emotion and intention to your song. You should also imagine power – your mind is an effective tool in manipulating your voice.
What do you do to improve your vocal projection? Share your favourite voice profection exercises in the comments below.