How Well Do You Sing?

A Checklist


How well do you really sing?   Many people are not very objective at analyzing how well they sing or what areas need particular improvement.  Here is a checklist for you to use to evaluate what you really do.

But before we get into the Checklist, know that simply knowing what to do is only part of it.   We also have to be willing to effect the change and something about motivating ourselves to change.  We’ll cover this on the next page  called:  Change -  Why we don’t and how we can.  So that’s coming. 

But here is the Checklist so we know what we need to change.

First recognize that each person has a particular vocal quality that is most natural for them and we all do not need to sound exactly the same.  Nevertheless, there are certain vocal aspects that are more pleasing to the ear, are more effective for clear diction, cause less distractions to many people, and lead to better communicative expression.

  1. 1.BREATHING - Breathing definitely needs to be “Diaphragmatic Breathing” (expand at the gut) NOT “Costal Breathing” (lifting the chest),  If you don’t understand this or need to work on “Diaphragmatic Breathing” see my topic on “Singing Better Thru Proper Breathing”

  2. 2.FORMATION OF Vowels, Diphthongs and Consonants - See my topic on “Singing Better Thru Vowel and Consonant Understanding”. 

  3. a. Often times we are lazy in vowel formation - “Lazy Mouth”.

  4. b. Diphthongs, Triphthongs are easy to slur over or result in  migration of vowel purity (gradually moving from one vowel sound to another, rather than holding the target vowel sound).

  5. c.Mouth Elongation” - the depth of the mouth openness.  The mouth should be wide open downward for almost all vowels except “oo” (which requires lip protrusion).  An elongated

  6. mouth opening will give you a fuller and more resonant tone.

  7. With so many possible vowel problems, be sure to check   yourself out carefully.

  8. 3.TONE QUALITY - See my topic on “Singing Better Thru Register Understanding”.

  9. a.Each of us has a certain basic tonal quality.  Though we don’t all need to sound the same, some people’s natural quality is a bit harsh and not pleasing.  It sounds tense.  This is often caused by lack of “sotto voce” (half voice) development and poor “passaggio” (break) control.

  10. b.You need to have a uniformity of tone quality throughout your range.

This complex area will require serious attention to make significant changes.

  1. 4.INTONATION   See my topic on “Intonation - Singing in Tune”.

  2. a.First of all, be sure you are hearing pitches internally and judging your singing by that, rather than what comes out of your mouth.

  3. b.Are you particularly careful about high notes to make sure  you are not forcing them?

  4. c.Are you especially conscious of when you are singing on the 3rd of the chord and keeping the major 3rd high and the minor 3rd low?

  5. 5.RHYTHM - Do you feel the beat underlying the music?  There is a steady rhythmic flow to most music that we call the “beat”.  It should be clearly felt in the music.  Even in expressive ballads there is that flow, though the steady flow may start and stop frequently.  Of course the beat should be strongly felt in rhythmic music such as marches etc.  In reference to rhythm, it’s not enough to just sing long and short notes.  You need to feel the beat underlying the music.  Looking over my topic on Rhythm may help.

  6. 6.DYNAMICS - Expressiveness requires contrast of loud and soft.  If you tend to sing only at one volume, you should think of this a bit.

  7. 7.EXPRESSIVENESS - Music is more than dealing with the mechanics of singing.  In fact music should primarily be about two things - 1) Communication of Emotions and 2) Beauty of Sound.  Any details or mechanics are clearly subservient to the main goal of communication.  Especially when performing, the mechanics should be so well under control that the main focus is on communicating with your audience.  See my topic “Beyond the Fundamentals - Expressiveness and the Visual

So check these 7 areas and concentrate on one aspect in an area to work on first.  This could be an aspect that you ascertain is your weakest.  On the other hand perhaps you will want to work more gradually and concentrate on one you feel you can achieve most easily as your first area.  Good luck!


I would love to hear from you.  I appreciate any comments or suggestions.