Okay, so here at long last is a description of truly free singing:

  1. The sound starts all on its own, almost before you can finish taking a breath, or so it seems.
  2. You have plenty of breath to sing whatever you want to sing. You are virtually unaware of using the breath. You take your breath when you decide to and then just sing.
  3. You can sing any note in your range easily.  This does not mean you can sing any note.  If you are a bass, you probably cannot sing as high as a coloratura soprano, but you can probably sing at least some of the same notes as a tenor – they just sound different.
  4. You have a wide range of at least 2 octaves (24 piano notes) and probably 2-1/2 up to 3 octaves (36 piano notes).
  5. You can sing any note in your range at any volume level you choose, from the softest, almost whisper, to the loudest, most powerful sound you can imagine.
  6. You can make your voice sound very “dark” or very “light” or anything in between. I put these two words in quotes because dark and light are pretty much singer words that you will need to learn the meaning of.  Think of dark as like a bass sound and light as like a high soprano sound, except that the darkness or lightness is for all voices. That is way over-simplified, but it will give you an idea. Singers call this vocal color or coloring the voice, which you can do at will when your voice is free.
  7. You can sing music that is very slow and have lots of breath for a long musical phrase. *See note at the bottom.
  8. You can sing music that goes very fast and has a lot of notes to sing and every note is right on pitch and clear as a bell to your listeners.
  9. Your diction is excellent. Everyone tells you they can understand every word you sing.
  10. You can make any note or phrase louder or softer while you sing it.  Musicians call this crescendo and decrescendo, getting louder and getting softer.  (Singers consider that the ultimate technique is the messa di voce, which is the ability to start any note in your range on any vowel softly, swell it gradually out to loud and then back to soft.   If you can do this, the registration of your voice is working pretty perfectly.)
  11. In whatever way you want to “sell” the song, you can do it. This means you can make the words meaningful and convey the emotion that is in the words with ease, so that people feel what you are singing.
  12. In your throat you feel virtually nothing while all this is going on. You are not aware of the pitches changing as you sing or your tongue moving around.  It is like the sound is magic, not connected to your body at all.
  13. And finally, the only downside: Singing is a very energetic activity and you get physically tired – but rarely vocally tired – from singing a long time. But it is a “good tired” like after a good fitness workout. I tell my students to think of singing as being like the old line about the duck, “serene on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath.” Such is the physical experience of singing.