The 4 Most Common Mistakes Beginner Singers Make
If you’ve made any of the mistakes below, you’re in good company. They’re common for a reason. But knowing what they are and how to avoid them will get your singing off to a great start.
Here are the four most common mistakes singers make, and what you can do to correct them:
- Neglecting Head Voice
‘Head voice’ (or falsetto, which is just a breathier version of head voice) is what female opera singers use. It’s also what Bruno Mars uses for his highest notes.
Watch and listen to how Bruno Mars hits his ‘head voice’:
It’s a function of your voice that’s often neglected because we don’t use it in daily life – unless you happen to do a lot of Mickey Mouse impressions.
Make a ‘cuckoo clock sound’ or an owl “hoot” and you’ve probably found your head voice.
Not only is head voice important for overall range extension and the ability to hit beautiful, soaring high notes, it’s also important for your middle and low notes. Balance, flexibility, and agility all improve when you have a developed head voice.
Look for a warmup that incorporates head voice, or one that specifically focuses on head voice if you want more focused practice.
- Worrying About How You Sound
Hear me out: I want you to sound good, and vocal training should improve how you sound. But some vocal exercises are just that: They’re exercises designed to strengthen a specific function. It might not sound good (to you) to make that ‘cuckoo clock’ sound. It might not sound good to sing in an exaggerated “bratty” or “nasal” tone. But there are good reasons for many of these “silly” sounds.
If you’re taking voice lessons and your teacher gives you a weird-sounding exercise, ask them what that specific sound helps accomplish! They should be able to give you a good answer.
Check out my 5 minute warm up video:
- Choosing Songs That Are Too Difficult
What is “too difficult”? If a song causes you to strain and hurt yourself, it’s too difficult. If working on that song leaves you so frustrated that you want to throw something at the wall and quit singing forever, it’s too difficult.
A challenge is good – don’t get me wrong. But there’s a huge difference between a doable challenge (something you can almost sing) and a monumental challenge that leaves you discouraged and burnt out.
I encourage my students to choose songs that feel one or two steps above their current skill level. Maybe that means a note or two feels slightly out of reach. Maybe the transitions are a little clunky (but can be smoothed out). Maybe the riffs and runs are a bit fast, but they’re almost doable. That’s the kind of challenge you can work with, make some real progress, and feel motivated to continue!
Check out these riffs and runs that might push you to those next steps above your comfort level:
- Not Singing In Tune
Many singers who struggle with singing in tune actually realize it, but they don’t know how to improve.
For singers with mild pitch issues (a note will be off here or there), the issue usually has to do with technique rather than their perception of the pitch. For these singers, learning about registration and practicing vowel modification will solve their intonation issues.
For singers with more serious pitch issues (often out of tune, and sometimes unaware that there even is an issue), I recommend ear training.
Check out this video to see if you can sing in tune:
Camille van Niekerk is a vocal coach and writer at 30 Day Singer