The alto voice is a fairly niche voice, not many singers who are true alto singers become as successful as some of the other voice types. Although if you are a true alto then you should consider yourself gifted and work on improving it, and more importantly learn to use your alto voice correctly when singing the proper songs.
There are a lot of talented singers who actually have an alto voice and they do not even know it. If you are among the singers who indeed have an alto voice then you will have to use it and work with it. Far too often beginner singers which have an alto voice would rather sing songs that are not suited to their voices, like songs that are meant for mezzo-sopranos. There is a big difference between male and female alto singers, and oftentimes they are not categorized correctly.
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For females with a true alto voice, they are often categorized as having a contralto voice, on the other hand, some alto males are categorized as having either a contralto or a bass voice. This confusion leads to a lot of singers not really knowing what their voice type actually is, some of them will find their true alto voice naturally while others will be stuck at singing songs that are not suited to their voice.
The alto voice is rather a particular type of voice and in some cases, it could be even more difficult to improve the alto voice than other types of voices. The main reason is that there are different breathing and singing techniques associated with alto singers and some of these techniques only apply to them. If you want to know how you can improve your voice, no matter what kind of voice type you have then check out my recent article How to improve your singing voice in a week ( 13 Easy Steps ).
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1 Relax your throat
If you want to develop a strong alto voice you will need to learn how to relax your throat. Far too often beginner singers tense up their throat while they are singing, this not only makes their voice sound fake but could also damage their vocal cords in the long run. My personal recommendation is for you to sing in front of the mirror with one of your hands on your neck, this way you will feel if you tense up while you are singing.
2 Have a correct tongue position
Another aspect of relaxing your throat is the actual position of your tongue, usually, beginner singers have no clue where they should place their tongue while they are singing and oftentimes you can actually hear their tongue flapping around. While some vocal coaches do suggest that if you are an alto singer to place your tongue on the top of your teeth while you are singing, however, I do not recommend this practice as it is not a natural position for the tongue and if it is done incorrectly it will further tense up your throat.
If you are an alto singer the correct position of your tongue is resting behind your bottom teeth, if for some reason you find it easier to rest your tongue right below your upper teeth you should continue doing that, as not all techniques work for everybody, just do what is working for you. Remember that your main goal with this exercise is to relax your throat by positioning your tongue correctly.
3 Use a piano
By far one of the best instruments for alto singers to be accompanied with is a piano. Generally speaking most alto singers sing from the “G”, and if you get somebody to accompany you with a piano you will find it far easier to sing alto. The hard truth is that not every alto singer can actually sing with somebody accompanying them, if you are one of these singers make sure to practice with a piano or have somebody to help you out with accompanying you.
4 Open your mouth
You probably think that this is a no-brainer as if you want to sing you will have to open your mouth. The problem is that most beginner singers do not open their mouth wide enough, this causes added pressure from the inhaled air and their voice will be altered. If you want to have a powerful alto voice then you have to learn and open your mouth wide enough so that your voice has a more natural flow and isn’t limited by your actual mouth.
One of the easiest ways to learn how to open up your mouth wide enough so you can sing alto stronger is to make the sound “ah”, hold this sound for a couple of minutes, and try to open your mouth to a point where it starts to sound natural and not forced.
5 Know how to sing lower notes
It is essential for you as an alto singer to know how to actually sing lower notes, oftentimes most people outright neglect singing lower notes. The truth is if you are not comfortable with singing lower notes then you will have an extremely difficult time developing a strong alto voice. If you are a beginner singer you will find it rather difficult at first, as most beginner singers focus on the higher notes rather than the lower ones. But with enough practice, you will become a naturally sounding alto.
6 Breathe from your diaphragm
If you have read any of my articles aimed at beginner singers then you have probably noticed that I mention diaphragm breathing a couple of times. By breathing from your diaphragm you will let your lungs expand as much as they can, this will allow you to inhale a lot more air than if you would only use your chest to breathe. As a singer, it is vital that you have the right amount of air in your lungs and air pressure which will actually help you have a stronger alto voice. If you want to know how important breathing from your actual diaphragm is, then check out my article Singing from diaphragm vs throat ( Which one is better? ).
7 Know how to read music notes
There are way too many singers who are not able to read music notes, this not only inhibits their ability to become a better singer but also hinders their singing career further down the line. I really do recommend for any singer to learn to read music notes, at first it will be a challenge but as soon as you get a hang of it you will be able to sing a lot of different styles of music and not just alto.
8 Position your shoulders back
There are a lot of people who have some form of a hunchback, this is mostly due to them either sitting for way too many hours at a desk or because they are constantly on their phone. If you are serious about singing then you have to learn not only to relax your throat but also to relax your entire body. By positioning your shoulders back you will have a more natural position that will allow you to relax easier, this, in turn, will allow you to relax your entire body.
9 Sing with your chest voice
Most voice types benefit from singing by using your diaphragm, however, this is not entirely true in the case of alto singers. Alto singers tend to have a lower voice and if you want a stronger alto voice you will have to learn to sing from the chest rather than from the diaphragm. While singing from your diaphragm is great for higher notes, singing from the chest is better and more natural for lower notes.
10 Lower your larynx
Your larynx plays a crucial part in what kind of voice you have, not only your larynx but its position will also determine how well you can sing alto. By simply positioning your larynx a little bit lower than its natural position you will find that it will make your alto voice a lot more stronger and natural.
11 Learn from the best
There are a lot of successful alto singers, my personal recommendation is to listen to their singing and try to imitate their technique as best as you can. Once you have mastered how to properly sing alto then you can focus on making your alto voice even stronger. If you want to know who are the best alto singers of all time then check out my recent article Famous alto singers ( Top 12 ).
12 Sing the proper songs
There are a lot of alto songs that are great for alto singers, although you might have some difficulty in finding some good and catchy modern songs. The truth is that alto singing isn’t that popular nowadays if you want to know which songs are best for alto singers then you have to look for rather older songs from the ’60s to the ’80s.
13 Proper timing
If you are an alto singer you have probably noticed that you can properly sing alto in the mornings and you might struggle with it during the day. This is mainly because after a night’s rest your vocal cords are well-rested and this will make you sing better. What usually tends to happen in the evening is that you have probably already consumed dairy products or even coffee, which are not great for your singing voice, especially if you are an alto singer.
14 Join a choir
Now I do not mean for you to join any choir, more specifically you should join choirs that have predominantly alto singers, this way you can learn from each other and actually listen to how a true alto voice should sound. One of the best choirs to join as an alto singer in church choirs, generally speaking, most of the members are usually alto singers due to the nature of the songs.
15 Get a vocal coach
By far one of the easiest ways to have a stronger alto voice is to get a vocal coach, more specifically a vocal coach which has experience with alto singers. Usually, good vocal coaches cost a lot of money, however, if you are serious about singing than sooner or later you will have to hire a vocal coach, my recommendation is to do it rather sooner than later as this way you will avoid picking up bad habits at an early stage of you learning how to sing.
16 Continue practicing
Getting a strong alto voice doesn’t come overnight, you will have to continue practicing as it will take some time till you develop your alto voice to be strong enough. No matter if you are a beginner or an advanced singer you will have to keep practicing to be a better singer, this doesn’t even mean that you have to focus only on practicing to sing alto, but also to practice to widen your vocal range.
Developing a strong alto voice might be more difficult than developing a strong voice for something like a mezzo-soprano or bass voice. However by following the above tips you will develop a strong alto voice, but remember that nothing comes easy and fast, you will have to continuously practice and allow your voice to grow stronger with time.