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How to Sing

We didn't think we could carry a tune in a bucket. But after these easy lessons, we kicked the bucket (in the right way)!
How to Sing is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 53.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and effective methods and materials I have been using these materials to supplement my voice teaching for the past several months. I teach students of all levels, and the layout and content of this course is extremely accessible, helpful, and effective. Musical selections are thoughtfully selected and appropriate for indicated singing levels. I especially like the inclusion of several keys, so I can show students how to find their fit for their voice. I have used this course extensively to help my students who are teachers themselves. Anyone interested in improving their singing will benefit from this inclusive, accessible, effective course.
Date published: 2021-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Foundation for Healthy and Beautiful Singing I purchased “How to Sing” to help set a healthy foundation. I began to notice some trouble with my tongue and jaw tension when I would practice. I am a classically trained singer and enjoy singing many styles of music. Dawn Pierce and this course helped me create a foundation where I can sing beautifully and healthfully in any style. This course focuses on how your body is your entire instrument. This completely changed my view of singing and I began to notice changes very quickly once I practiced the exercises given. What I love most about this course is that you can learn these skills at ANY level. There are things that I learned having sing for a number of years, that my mother who just started singing also learned. Highly highly recommend this incredible course.
Date published: 2021-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A BLESSING ONTO THIS EARTH! Dawn is one of the most sought after voice teachers in the United States, so to have her personally teach you through a medium like this is the definition of MAGIC! I am blown away by how carefully constructed this course is, allowing it to speak to ANY singer at ANY skill level, and every kind of learner (ie auditory, visual, physical). Dawn explains concepts SO clear and precise, then visually SHOWS you what she’s referring to, and lastly provides you with exercises so YOU can physically feel each concept in your own body as well as watch others on screen go through the same process. A “one size fits all” voice course seems impossible, but Dawn is SO SMART she understands that in order to make ANY type of sound, one must have an understanding of their vocal mechanism, their body, their breath, and other core vocal concepts that remain the same no matter WHAT style you're singing in. With each course, Dawn provides you with tools to put in your toolbox so whether you decide to go off and sing opera or late night karaoke, you will have a deep understanding of the vocal mechanism and how you can most affectively harness your body to create your own unique sound. Please do yourself a favor and get this course.
Date published: 2021-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great and informative Quite an insight into religions and their core beliefs on dying, etc. I’m thoroughly enjoying both reading and listening to each chapter!
Date published: 2021-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Features Bought it for my granddaughter for Christmas. I’m sure she’s going to love it!
Date published: 2021-11-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from x Top Heavy with Superflous Material I was so excited when I saw this course! But I invested two hours without ever singing and decided not to continue. I wish the instructor would jump in with warm ups and get sound coming out of my mouth first, then work on perfecting technique, breathwork and talking about theory.
Date published: 2021-10-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good content hindered by poor design and filler There are many great exercises and tips for singing skills in this course. However, I found myself increasingly annoyed with the frequently infantile, affected commentary of the teacher and the related, unnecessarily filler content in the video presentations. Thus I thought I could rely on the course materials to simply practice the exercises, but they are surprisingly poorly designed for this purpose. The course materials don't list the exercises in one simple place, or give you sufficient information to practice them apart from the examples in the videos, mixed in with all the filler content. The audio files for the singing exercises are simply backing piano tracks with no vocals, so you have no way of knowing exactly what sound to make from them alone. The only way to be sure you are practicing the exercises correctly is to watch them as they are randomly sprinkled through the videos. This made the course definitively much less useful than it should be. I would forgive the tone of the course and give it 4 stars if they simply put all the exercises in one video, as well as include a folder of audio files for the same purpose.
Date published: 2021-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Pierce impressively technical, great approach Quick background on me: I have prior experience singing in choir at school & church off & on since childhood, and am a proper self-proclaimed musicophile, grew up listening to music legends Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Sade, Nat King Cole, Sarah Brightman, amongst many others, singing along with them. Since March I've been paying for private singing lessons with a seasoned opera singer & tutor, decided to try this course to supplement with those lessons. I have to say, even my singing tutor has been impressed by the content in this lecture series...between the lectures & singing lessons with my tutor these past 6 months, I've advanced from a 1.5 octave range to a 2.5 octave range, and MOST importantly, I am finally learning how to re-train my vocal technique & breath control, as I have realized I was utilizing a very "aspirating", or breathy, vocal approach. Dr. Pierce has truly impressed me, how technical she got about proper posture, phases of breath, inhalation & exhalation, and whereas in prior singing experience, all I ever heard was, "use that diaphragm"...yet she also corrects this in stating that you want to use combined clavicular, thoracic (lungs), and diaphragmatic breathing TOGETHER, and she goes through the process step by step, so the student can actually resonate with their own body, holistically & consciously, for themselves, throughout the process. Whereas before I would tend to "stack my breathing", worried I would run out of breath, she has very kindly taught me that the longer & more complete the exhalation, the deeper & more balanced the following inhalation. She also includes practical exercises to work on various portions for which she teaches, very hands-on & encouraging throughout. *Another important bit to many say you can only get good proper support & breath control from standing, I want to encourage any person's with disabilities, such as paraplegics, that most of these exercises CAN be done from sitting as well!! If you have undergone physical/occupational therapy to strengthen your core & upper body, please do not feel discouraged or like you cannot still benefit from this lecture series!! I actually practice the exercises sitting as much as I do standing, and it can be done!!* I could go on & on, but BRAVA The Great Courses & Dr Pierce (as well as Emily, my singing tutor), singing is so very much about technique & practice to hone the skills, so glad she repeatedly emphasizes this!! Such a great lecture series, my singing technique has greatly improved & she does such an amazing job, keeping her students following along, explaining in scientific yet layman's terms, so even a novice beginner can follow along. This is what I've come to expect from The Great Courses in content & authority, knowledge & clear expertise from the professor, BRAVA!! Happy learning, folks!!
Date published: 2021-09-10
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Let a master teacher train you in solid singing technique, vocal artistry, and the skills of inspired performance.


Dawn Pierce
Dawn Pierce

Singing is a skill, and a skill can be learned.


Ithaca College

Dawn Pierce is an Associate Professor of Voice at Ithaca College. She earned a master of music in Opera Performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she also obtained a postgraduate Professional Artist Certificate (Artist Diploma). She abounds with experience in a wide variety of styles and venues, performing in operas, musicals, concerts, and solo recitals. Praised as both an exceptional performer and an empowering teacher, she is devoted to teaching healthy vocal technique and promoting a deeper understanding of artistry and self-expression.

By This Professor

How to Sing
How to Sing


Anyone Can Sing

01: Anyone Can Sing

Begin the course with a first look at the physiology of singing, as it represents a refined coordination of posture, breath, and tone. Learn about the approach you’ll study in this course, based in a thorough view of the science of singing, as well as the art of vocal expression. Then practice basic vocalizations for freeing the voice and testing your range, and finish with a familiar song.

35 min
Vocal Warm-Ups

02: Vocal Warm-Ups

Learn effective vocal warmups, to build proper coordination and balance for your most beautiful singing. Consider the physiological benefits of warmups, and how to care for your vocal instrument. To begin, practice full-body warmup exercises. Follow this with vocal exercises for energizing your breath, engaging with tone, sharpening vocal agility and vowel production, and increasing resonance and range.

48 min
Aligning the Spine

03: Aligning the Spine

A flexible alignment is the foundation for solid vocal technique. Study the structure of the spine and practice exercises to find a free and dynamic posture for your best sound production. Examine lower body and pelvic alignment and note how these affect your singing. Also learn how slightly elevating the sternum and strengthening the back and shoulder muscles help free the breath.

47 min
Head and Neck Posture

04: Head and Neck Posture

Explore head and neck alignment that support a freely functioning vocal mechanism. Visualize the cervical spine and its seven vertebrae, and grasp why head position is crucial for ease in vocal vibration. Practice a range of movements and exercises to experience how vocal tone is affected by head posture, to learn how to maintain a free neck alignment, and to find your optimal, dynamic posture for singing.

47 min
How to Practice Anything

05: How to Practice Anything

Regular and effective practice is crucial for developing your singing skills. Study three primary facets of efficient practice: Evaluate your progress; strategize a plan of action, and integrate your new skills. Grasp what a typical practice session will look like, from your warmup and assigned exercises to applying your new abilities to the music. Also, remember to sing for fun!

29 min
The Anatomy and Physiology of Breath

06: The Anatomy and Physiology of Breath

Now focus on the respiratory system, a foundational element for singing. Get to know the organs and structures that come into play when you sing: the airway, the lungs, the muscles of respiration, and the motions of inhalation and exhalation. Work with exercises to increase flexibility, lung capacity, and the function of your breathing, with both immediate and long-term benefits for singing.

42 min
Inhalation for Singing

07: Inhalation for Singing

Take a closer look at the important role of inhalation in vocal technique. Explore three kinds of breath: clavicular (the upper chest), thoracic (the ribcage), and diaphragmatic (the lower abdomen). Then practice a gentle, three-part yoga breath that uses all of them. Next, apply this holistic way of breathing to a song, maintaining a dynamic posture and guiding your inhalation to release low into your body.

33 min
Exhalation for Singing

08: Exhalation for Singing

In vocal technique, consider how the quality of the exhalation determines the quality of the inhalation. Study the appoggio technique, which focuses on encouraging sternum elevation and rib position during the exhalation. Practice exercises to maintain an open upper body and suspend the inclination to collapse on the exhale, releasing the inhalation and engaging appoggio on the exhale.

48 min
Coordinating the Phases of Breath

09: Coordinating the Phases of Breath

This lesson breaks down breathing into four phases associated with singing: inhalation, suspension, exhalation, and recovery. Work with exercises to coordinate these phases to create habitual patterns for breath. Using the song chosen for this lesson, experiment with how to make decisions about where you will breathe and divide the phrases. Then learn specific tools to troubleshoot aspects of breathing and posture that may be challenging.

48 min
Sound Production

10: Sound Production

Take an overview of the anatomy and structure of the larynx: the cartilage, ligaments, and muscles that house and support the vocal cords. Then look at how phonation or sound production works, and how pitch is made. Explore phonation through a series of exercises, working to create a healthy vocal tone and a balanced, free laryngeal position, without extraneous tensions.

47 min
Onset: Engaging Balanced Tone

11: Onset: Engaging Balanced Tone

In singing, the ideal initiation of sound creates a clear, clean tone. Look at the spectrum of ways to start tone, beginning with aspiration, or “breathiness.” Contrast this with a glottal “plosive” onset and see how both can fatigue the voice. Work with exercises to find an easy, more neutral, and efficiently balanced onset of sound, with minimal effort. Apply this work, using the song “Amazing Grace.”

53 min
Resonance: Exploring Vocal Colors

12: Resonance: Exploring Vocal Colors

Grasp how the vocal tract acts as a resonator and study the physiology of the three main areas of vocal resonance. Learn to shape and control your resonance through exercises that explore vibration in the internal spaces of the vocal tract, creating different sounds and colors. Work to achieve a well-balanced resonance throughout your range, maintaining awareness of the internal spaces.

43 min
Utilizing the Soft Palate

13: Utilizing the Soft Palate

Examine the role of the soft palate in singing. Locate the position of the palate and learn about its physiological functions. Work with mental imagery that will naturally activate and lift the soft palate, and discover how the soft palate affects vocal sound. Using helpful materials and props, work to engage with a more flexible, agile palate, which will respond naturally when you sing.

46 min
Releasing Jaw Tension

14: Releasing Jaw Tension

Consider why jaw tension is undesirable for healthy and natural voice production. Study the parts of the of the jaw, the muscles that control jaw movement, and the motion of the jaw hinge. Work to cultivate a free and neutral jaw position, exploring the release of internal muscles. Using a song, find how the jaw can move independently of vowels, pitch, and the movement of the tongue.

52 min
Your Voice Type

15: Your Voice Type

Begin to explore your voice category, and learn a general way to classify your voice, with the goal of making the most of your own vocal mechanism and choosing repertoire that allows you to shine. Study vocal “registration,” encompassing what are called chest voice, head voice, and falsetto. Find the point where your own voice shifts registers, as a guideline for understanding your voice type.

47 min
Maximizing Your Vocal Range

16: Maximizing Your Vocal Range

With regular practice and solid technique, you can learn to develop and maximize your natural range. Start by further exercising your range. Then explore self-massage of the muscles and joints around the larynx, and work with exercises to develop flexibility in these muscles to expand and unite your range. Using “The Star-Spangled Banner,” experiment with breath, phrasing, and the large range of the song.

56 min
Training Your Tongue

17: Training Your Tongue

Freedom and release of the tongue are essential to healthy vocal technique. Learn about the anatomy of the tongue and its eight muscles and how excess tongue tension is common for singers. Do a series of exercises to work for freedom and to let go of any pushing, retracting, or pressure on the larynx. Over time, explore the effects of these tools and incorporate them into your practicing.

59 min
Articulating Vowels

18: Articulating Vowels

Look into vowel production in singing and how independence of the articulators (the jaw, tongue, and lips) can help to maximize vocal freedom and flexibility. Practice forming vowels without jaw engagement. Learn about the International Phonetic Alphabet, which represents speech sounds. Then work with exercises to form tongue vowels, lip vowels, and diphthongs, bringing them into another fun, original song.

38 min
Articulating Consonants

19: Articulating Consonants

Take a deep dive into the classification of consonants and how they function in singing. Work with eight categories of consonants and discover both where they are formed within the vocal tract and how they are formed by the articulators. Explore voiced and unvoiced consonants, as they relate to sustained tone, and apply your knowledge to the poetic text of a song.

46 min
Diction for Singing

20: Diction for Singing

Clear diction and phrasing are fundamental to vocal artistry. In this lesson, explore how we communicate meaning through pronunciation and syllabic stress. Begin to work with phrasing, how words are stressed relative to each other, and which words to emphasize as important. Consider how to place vowels and consonants in a sung phrase, and start to address intention and meaning in singing text.

54 min
Engaging with Lyrics

21: Engaging with Lyrics

In approaching lyrics, study how to interpret the text. Begin by researching the piece, learning about the librettist, the time period, and the historical context. Also research the composer and how the piece was written. Using the text of an original song, and your character analysis worksheet, work to find your own expressive connection with the piece and create your interpretation of the song.

37 min
Communicating through Song

22: Communicating through Song

Bring your vocal skills to the areas of expression and performance. Grasp the importance of aligning your intention with the message your listeners are receiving. Explore how factors such as posture, facial expressions, physical gestures, vocal resonance, and articulation all communicate. Sing “Auld Lang Syne,” and practice communicating different attitudes and expressive intentions.

49 min
Making Each Performance Personal

23: Making Each Performance Personal

Study core principles of vocal artistry in performance. Learn ways to connect imaginatively with your text and character, to believe in what you’re communicating, and to share your unique perspective as a performer. Working with the song “Danny Boy,” see how sight, sound, and touch feed your imaginative work, and how specificity in your artistic choices gives your work depth and authenticity.

57 min
Singing’s Surprising Benefits

24: Singing’s Surprising Benefits

Having arrived at the end of this course, reflect on your work and consider the physical and mental health benefits that singing brings, including the specific physiological effects of singing and how the lifestyle of singing encourages good choices for overall health and well-being. Conclude by singing a final original song, applying everything you’ve learned, then embrace the goal of scheduling a performance.

58 min