Opera and Vocal Technique

Opera and vocal technique require the same basic fundamentals.

Whether you want to be a general singer or specialize in opera, there are basic techniques that will help you increase your skill and ability in both fields. Opera training and vocal technique, at their roots, use the same concepts to teach vocalists how to breathe, project their voice in a safe manner and proper pronunciation. Taking the time to study these techniques will ensure a safer and more fruitful vocal experience.

Warm Up

A proper warm up must be completed before every vocal practice session. This is true for all singers. Warming up the vocal cords can be done in several ways, through exercises designed to slowly warm the voice and through the ingestion of warm liquids such as tea with honey. The honey will help to coat your throat and the tea will help loosen phlegm and warm your vocal cords. Some good warm ups include singing the first five notes of a scale at a medium volume and yawning on the syllable "hmmm" downwards.


Buzzing the lips helps to warm up the vocal cords in a safe and low-impact manner. Press your lips together and buzz a major or minor scale within your comfortable range. For most sopranos and altos, a scale starting on middle C will be fine. For tenors and basses, try starting an octave lower than middle C. The important thing is to sing on a scale that fits easily and comfortably within your vocal range.

Breath Control

Breath control for a singer requires careful practice and basic knowledge of a concept called diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing occurs when you consciously control the breathing mechanisms of the diaphragm. Normally, the diaphragm controls breathing involuntarily, however, the diaphragm allows for voluntary control of breathing to an extent. To breathe correctly, you must breathe into the diaphragm, feeling the stomach and sides expand. Practice this by breathing in for four beats and out for six beats. As you improve you will be able to take in more air, thereby, improving your tone production.


Increasing the vocal register safely takes patience. Practice vocal extension exercises every day to gradually and consistently increase your high range. Increase your high range by practicing low and high pitches. For the low pitches, start an octave above the lowest note you can sing comfortably, then, sing chromatically down a fifth. Start one-half step lower and sing down another fifth. Continue until you can sing no lower. For the high range, do the same thing, but start an octave below your highest comfortable pitch. Sing up a fifth and then repeat a half step higher. Chromatic singing means to sing all the half steps between the starting and ending note.


Diction will greatly help the clarity of your voice and ability to audibly pronounce words to the audience. Diction requires the vocalist to learn how to pronounce words correctly. In singing, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is used to teach singers how to pronounce words correctly in every language. IPA provides examples of words in your native language and teaches you how to pronounce foreign words using words you already know how to pronounce. See Resources.


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