Develop Your Singing Voice: Find and Foster Your Vocal Power | Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Develop Your Singing Voice: Find and Foster Your Vocal Power

teacher avatar Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton, Songwriters, Vocalists

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Understanding Vocal Anatomy


    • 3.

      Practicing Good Posture


    • 4.

      Practicing Proper Breathing Techniques


    • 5.

      Breathing to the Beat


    • 6.

      Understanding Vocal Onsets


    • 7.

      Using Lip Trills


    • 8.

      Using Sirens to Warm Up


    • 9.

      Singing in Tune


    • 10.

      Combining Lip Trills and Sirens


    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Whether you’re ready to go platinum in the shower or on the billboard charts, it’s time to fine-tune your singing voice. 

As professional songwriters and vocalists, Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton have turned their powerhouse voices into powerhouse careers. Since 2008, the two singers have collectively and individually toured with major recording artists like Coldplay, Usher, Anita Baker, Demi Lovato, and Jessie J. They have also worked as vocalists on American Idol and The Voice and in films like Encanto, The Lion King, and Jordan Peele’s Us. Now ready to share their top singing tricks and techniques, Denise and Neka dive deep into the fundamentals of finding and fine-tuning your voice. 

In this exclusive class, you’ll learn how to care for your voice, how voice anatomy affects your singing, and explanations of important vocal techniques to jumpstart your singing journey.

Through Denise and Neka’s actionable lessons, you’ll: 

  • Discover day-to-day habits to improve your voice health
  • Learn about the benefits of breathing exercises and good posture 
  • Play with vocal techniques like lip trills and sirens
  • Understand how certain techniques affect your voice

Plus, Denise and Neka provide a wav version of a few scales so you can practice pitch matching whenever you like!

The perfect balance of practice and theory, this class will not only help you understand how your voice works, but also how you can use the anatomy of your unique voice to transform the way you sing. Once finished, you’ll have the foundational tools you’ll need to care for your voice and take it to the next level.

This class is created for anyone curious about learning how to sing. Whether you grew up going to choir practice or you’re a dedicated shower singer with a desire to improve your voice, Denise and Neka will cover the fundamentals you need to both understand and develop your voice. As the only instrument you’ll always have with you, the only thing you’ll need for this class is your voice and, if desired, paper and a pencil for note taking. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton

Songwriters, Vocalists


Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton  are professional songwriters and vocalists who have turned their powerhouse voices into  powerhouse careers. Since 2008, the two singers have collectively and individually toured with major recording artists like Coldplay, Usher, Anita Baker, Demi Lovato, and Jessie J. They have also worked as vocalists on American Idol and The Voice and in films like Encanto, The Lion King, and Jordan Peele’s Us. Now ready to share their top singing tricks and techniques, Denise and Neka dive deep into performing and pursuing a musical career. 

Connect with Neka on Instagram and Denise at her website!

See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Every other musical instrument is visible while the voice box is not. Therefore, it's valuable to see the workings of the voice and what it takes to properly and safely deliver a supported sound. Hi, I'm Denise. I'm Mika. We're professional vocalists and songwriters. With over 15 years in the music industry, we have collectively and individually tour with major recording artists such as Coldplay, Usher, Anita Baker, Demi Lovato, and Jessie J to name a few. In addition, we have worked his vocalists and the house bands of American Idol and the voice and on films such as in Canto, The Lion King, and Jordan Peele's Us. Today's class is about the basics of singing. We will be working on breathing to the beat, aspirations, glottal onsets, lip trill sirens and more. You are encouraged to submit yourself lip trilling or flapping of the lips during an exhale and submitted to the project gallery. You will leave this class with an understanding of vocal anatomy, how to properly care for your instrument, and the importance of breath support. We are so excited to share vocal gems and tricks to improve your singing voice and open your mind and challenge you on ways that may apply to life itself. Now let's get started. 2. Understanding Vocal Anatomy: Let's take a look at the anatomy of our voice and what's happening as sounds are produced. Here's a simple breakdown of the anatomy of vocal cords and structures involved in speech and voice production. You have the larynx, that's also known as the voice box. It's a hollow, muscular organ forming an air passage to the lungs that houses our vocal cords. The larynx sits on top of the windpipe and plays a role in the production of sound. When vocalizing the pharynx, aka the throat, serves the purpose of amplifying the sound waves that travel from your vocal folds. The vocal folds snapped together while air from the lungs blow past it, making them vibrate. The vibrations produce sound waves that travel through the nose, mouth, and throat, which act as resonating cavities to modulate the sound. The quality of our voice, its pitch, volume, and tone is determined by the size and shape of the vocal folds and the resonating cavities. That is why each person's voice is so different. Now that you have an understanding of your instrument, you must learn how to care for it. The value of your instrument depends on how much you value yourself. Think about it. Are you being mindful of the way that you tend to your body, mind, and soul, while the voice is connected to all three, which is why we must be cognizant of our daily eating habits. The amount of rest we get. How much you hydrate, balanced day-to-day challenges, and setting aside quiet time for self. These all play an important factor in managing a healthy lifestyle for your instrument. Water is life. To ensure great vocal health and voice quality, the recommended amount of water intake is eight to 10, eight ounce glasses of water a day, at the very least. Before warming up, rehearsing or performing, we suggest drinking room temperature water or warm water, or ginger tea, herbal tea. If possible, to get a decaffeinated tea that has licorice root, that would be great. Food, is nourishment. It's important to be conscious that the food you eat because certain foods can trigger different reactions. Dairy, acidic and spicy foods, caffeine, processed sugar, fried foods are some that I've been known to irritate the vocal cords, causing phlegm, mucus and acid reflux. So it's best to avoid those. Fresh foods, these are better than processed foods. Some foods to recommend are cantaloupe, watermelon, or garden salad with a light dressing, preferably no dairy, cucumbers, chicken, anything with vitamin A, which is like yellow veggies, sweet potatoes. All of those are great. Peace and patience, these two are essential we share to advocate for self by quieting your mind with leasing inhibitions and allowing space for you to evolve. Remember that Rome was not built in a day. Practice makes perfect and nothing comes overnight. 3. Practicing Good Posture: You can't build a house without a good foundation. Remember that proper posture is needed in order to have proper sound. Whether you're sitting or standing, your feet should be shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hips straight, shoulders back and relaxed. If slouching when sitting or standing, your rib-cage and lungs won't be able to expand and your diaphragm won't be able to be fully lowered. When singing while standing, pretend you are a puppet with a string at the crown of your head and imagine someone pulling the string. When singing while sitting, sit at the edge of the seat, because it will keep you from laying against the back of the chair. First, plant your feet on the ground, chest high, and remember to look forward. If ever needing to reference music, be sure to hold or have your music stand at eye level and avoid looking down and interfering with airflow and visual perception. Before you even open your mouth to sing, always remember to check your posture. 4. Practicing Proper Breathing Techniques: Proper breathing is one of the main ingredients to a successful sound. We want you to understand why it's important to have good posture when you sing. Has something ever come so natural to you that you use the phrase, I could do that in my sleep? When approaching singing. Breathing properly should be just that easy. Let's start with the diaphragm and understand its functions as it relates to breathing. The diaphragm is a muscle in our core that sits under your lungs and separates the chest cavity from the abdomen. When we take a breath in the diaphragm, contracts and flattens, which allows the lungs to maintain their function. When we breath out the diaphragm relaxes while our lungs push the air. 5. Breathing to the Beat: Next, we're going to breath to the beat. By focusing on matching your breaths to the rhythm, rhythmic breathing can help bring about relaxation and calming of the mind. This can aid in quiet and stressing the body and also enhance your performance. If you do happen to feel stressed, tension, or discomfort, you can mentally push it out of the body as you exhale. We tend to tense up in our throats when stress or nervousness arises. Be conscious of this and do your best to release it. The ultimate goal is to exhale longer than you inhale, and to enhance your breath control. This will assist you in sustaining long notes, phrasing, and also pitch. Nika will demo the breathing, while I snap to a beat. The first part consists of breathing in for four beats. In through the nose and exhale and a sound for four beats. The second part is breathing in for three beats. In through the nose and exhale on an s-sound for eight beats. The third part is breathing in for two beats. In through the nose and exhaling on a sound for 10 beats. Lastly, we will breathe in for one beat, and she'll go as long as she can on an s-sound until you can't hold it anymore. Okay, ready? Yes. Breathing in and 1, 2, 3, 4, out, 1, 2, 3, 4, letting everything out. Ready? Breathing in, and 1, 2, 3, out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, out. Breathing in for two breathing in, and 1, 2, out, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Here is the big one. [LAUGHTER] Breathing in, and 1 out, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. As you can hear, she can probably go on all day. But we encourage you to implement a breathing exercise such as this into your daily routine. 6. Understanding Vocal Onsets: As you know, proper posture and breath is the catalyst for a successful supported tone or sound. Place your thumb on your sternum and pinky on your belly button, and repeat after me with assertiveness. Hey, you, pat your hat on top. Hey, you, pat your hat on top. What you felt and heard on the h of hey, the p in pat, the h on hat, and the t and o on top was the involvement of the vocal folds opening while air flows through them. Those are aspirated onsets. Aspirations are an audible breath that accompanies are comprises a speech or sound. An aspirated onset is when vocal folds come together after the airflow has started from the breathing muscle. Now repeat after me with assertiveness and ease. Think light when approaching this exercise. Uh. Uh. Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Uh, uh, uh. Uh, uh, uh. Uh-oh, uh-oh. Uh-oh, uh-oh. That is called a glottal onset. These onset occurs when the vocal folds are together before the airflow. Glottal onset involves inhaling, closing the glottis, the space between the vocal cords, and then beginning to sing. Glottal tension causes the vocal folds to vibrate and then produce sounds. Every note has a start and an end. Awareness of aspirations and glottal onsets are surprisingly more important than one would think. They not only impact your style of singing, but your overall vocal health. 7. Using Lip Trills: Now we will be exploring how to connect the breath in a seamless transition, which will allow you to create a sound without using your tongue or jaw. This is called a lip trill. It requires relaxation of the jaw, tongue, and for sure the lips. Lip trills provide back pressure on the vocal cords, assisting in stretching your range, connecting the sound to the abdominal support wall and it moves the air through quickly. We will start by doing them without sound first. Now when doing these, you might feel a little bit of a vibration or a tickle in your mouth, nose, and lips, but here we'll give it a try. [NOISE] [LAUGHTER]. It might feel silly, but it's worth it. Now, you give it a try. Great. Now, do it in a lower register as if you're trying to sound like a motorcycle engine. [NOISE]. Now, try for a little higher like in the register of your speaking voice. [NOISE]. Perfect. Now let's go for an even more higher pitch. [NOISE]. Now you may feel a little bit of a tickle in your nose, your lips, maybe even spit on yourself a little bit, but that's okay. That means you're doing it right. As long as the lip trill is sustained, you're great. Now we will mix all three together in an exercise where we will pulse three times in each voice register. Make sure to be conscious of your diaphragm as you pulse. We'll go from low to middle to high. [NOISE] [LAUGHTER]. Now you can practice this in your car, while you're out and about, or anywhere for that matter, which will help you with connecting the breath in a seamless transition. 8. Using Sirens to Warm Up: When you hear the word siren, you probably immediately think of the sound that comes from an ambulance or a fire truck. For vocalists, a siren is an exercise used for exploring and extending the vocal range. Sirens are a great way to activate the muscles in the larynx also known as the voice box, and the vocal cords which cause the chords to gently stretch and retract dependent on how high or low the pitch. These can be performed in numerous ways, but for this exercise, we're going to explore the use of an U. I'll demonstrate three soft sirens open mouth on an U. One that ascends, one that descends, and around its siren. With doing these sirens, you may feel the urge to tense up your throat, but we actually want you to do the exact opposite and relax. Try your best to keep your tongue relaxed and towards the front of your mouth while forming the U shape. Be conscious of each U as you slowly glide your way through to the top and bottom. Be aware of our breaks and uncomfortable areas of our voices. Sirens are a common and effective way to warm up and warm down, so feel free to use them freely. 9. Singing in Tune: We're going to talk a little bit about resonance and intonation. First, we will start with intonation. We have to understand what it means to sing in tune. Nowadays, there's not only a software that pitch corrects, but it has become a sound in today's music. We love the sound, but we also want you to be equipped to sing with confidence, pitch accuracy and not rely on electronic manipulation. Intonation is the accuracy of pitch. Singing in tune. When you sing a note, there is a number of times per second the air molecules will vibrate back and forth. This is also called frequency. It's important for you to be able to recognize when you are not singing in tune, which is poor intonation. The basic goal for every pitch you sing is to aim dead center of each note. Think of singing right into the center of a bulls-eye. Anything too high above the bulls-eye is considered sharp and means you are pushing more air that needs to achieve the proper pitch. Anything too low below the bull's eye is considered flat and means you don't have enough airflow to support the proper pitch. We're going to demonstrate singing with proper intonation. The goal is to match the pitch that you hear. [MUSIC] As you can here, I have matched the pitch that was played by our pianist, Brian. Thank you, Brian. When practicing pitch matching, we suggest that you strive for an accurate onset to each note, which simply means to sing the note without gliding to it. Balance is key. Remember to sing the note right in the bulls-eye. This is an example of ear training and knowing the importance of listening and matching to the pitch. What is resonance? It's a process by which sound and tone are intensified when you sing or speak, your vocal cords vibrate and produce sound waves which then reverberate in the main resonating areas of your body. These main areas are the nasal cavity, oral cavity, skull, pharynx, larynx, and vocal cords. Having control of your resonance can help to manipulate the tone quality or your voice to be brighter, warm, or both. It can also increase the volume of your voice without increasing air pressure from your breath. Repeat after me with a low hum and then slowly glide up to a higher frequency. Thanks to relaxation neck, it's almost think of having the back of your throat open. You will feel the vibrations in your pharynx and larynx on the low end, and when gliding higher, you will feel it in your nose and head. These are your resonators. A great warm-up to get a feel for your resonators is to place your tongue outside of your mouth in-between your top and bottom lip. Gently gripping your tongue with your teeth and hum. This helps for you to bring the sound more forward in the mask of your face. Now we're going to do this while singing, breathing in through our nose in-between each exercise, [MUSIC] and so on. Make sure you relax your jaw, tongue, and throat with a focus on a feeling of the buzz in your resonating areas. If you want to feel more vibrations in your nasal cavity, you can gently raise your tongue to the top of your mouth. Continue getting a feel for your resonators and practice your intonation to help you with pitch matching. 10. Combining Lip Trills and Sirens: We've learned about both lip trills and sirens, and now it's time to combine them. This will challenge you to maintain proper airflow, relax your neck and throat while lip trilling way up, down and all around different parts of your voice with siren sounds. A tip that may help you with being able to keep a consistent lip trill would be to put your pointer fingers on the corners of your mouth, in-between your top and bottom teeth so you don't clench and press very lightly. Now as we combine lip trills and sirens together, we want to focus on the proper amount of air travel from our diaphragm to our vocal folds through our mouth and lips. First, we'll start going from low to high, breathing in through our nose. [NOISE] Going from high to low [NOISE] and going around in the circle. [NOISE] Simple, right? Not always. There may be a moment in time where your lips will stop trilling or your throat will get tight and prevent the sound from coming out, but just know that that's okay. This identifies the need to be more conscious of your airflow. Be aware of how much air you're breathing in, and keep practicing. Now we're going to be singing with lip trills along to the first melody line of Mary Had a Little Lamb. [MUSIC] [NOISE] [LAUGHTER] Remember that lip trills are a great warm-up because they take the stress off of the voice and energy into the lips. Now it's your turn. For your first-class assignment, try your hand at recording yourself pitch matching to some of the skills we have given you in the project gallery. We also want you to submit a recording of yourself doing the lip trill warm-ups to the song Mary Had a Little Lamb. We can't wait to hear. 11. Final Thoughts: [MUSIC] It's been a pleasure to share these gins with you. We hope that all we've shared this far has jump-started your motivation to know more about your individual voice. We gave you a look into the voice box, share tips on how to treat your voice, body, and mind right, and some warm-ups to work on. Don't forget that proper posture and breathing are essentials when singing. Be sure to spend time with your voice for 20-30 minutes minimum a day. To end our class, we would like to close out with some affirmations so you can remain encouraged along the journey of learning and finding your voice. You can repeat after us or just listen and absorb the positive vibes. I am capable. I am patient with myself. I give myself permission to learn. If it's meant to be, it's up to me. We'll see you next class.