Learning to Sing? Part 4 : Singing Lessons on CD or DVD

If you’ve taken singing classes (in a group or privately) and are looking for a way to maintain good vocal technique, following singing lessons on CD or DVD is a great way to keep your voice in shape.
Woman holding CD

Singing Lessons on DVDs and CDs

There are many DVDs and CDs of singing lessons, singing techniques and vocal warmups for sale by many publishers. It’s difficult to tell the quality of these products before you buy and if you are a beginner it is next to impossible for you to tell the good from the bad. However, if you purchase products from a known publisher, or one related to a known music school, such as Berklee Press, the material will be reliable.

It would be advisable to combine any CD/DVD singing instruction with a teacher who can help you apply the lessons and practice routines that are on the CD/DVD, particularly if you are a beginner.  The reason for this is, that unless you have a highly trained ear, it will be hard for you to hear your mistakes as you begin the journey on learning to sing – and only someone listening to you can guide you in the best direction. Additionally, when you sing, your voice is your insrument, and if you pick up bad singing habits, without a teacher to warn you and to help you correct the bad habit, you may damage your vocal cords.

That said, CDs and DVDs are a great tool for intermediate and advanced singers, who have taken lessons, and who have learned the basic concepts. Although some CDs and DVDs will contain a lot of basic information, the practice exercises are excellent for vocal warmup sessions and to keep your vocal abilities in shape.  And usually, repeating the basics will only solidify the foundation of your singing voice – for the better!

When purchasing a CD or DVD containing singing lessons, use the internet to look for ones that offer a sample lesson for you to listen to or view online.  After viewing the sample online lesson, if you are comfortable with the quality, look at the curriculum covered on the CD or DVD (you should be able to view the table of contents online).  Lessons will include some or all of the following:

  • how to breath
  • breath control
  • posture
  • creating clear vocal sound
  • adding “texture” and vocal effects to your sound
  • hitting the right pitch
  • increasing your range (without strain)
  • starting and ending notes
  • starting and ending phrases
  • harmonizing with other singers or instruments
  • improvising techniques
  • communicating the message
  • reading music
  • microphone technique
  • warmup exercises
  • how to practice
  • how to take care of your voice
  • performance tips

Not all CDs/DVDs will cover all of these areas.  Make a list of what you want to learn from the CD/DVD and make sure that the one(s) you purchase cover those items.

Whenever you are singing (following a lesson or practicing), remember to stop immediately if your throat begins to hurt or if you find yourself straining to reach or hold onto a note.  Also remember to drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated.

Obviously, I haven’t tried all the CDs and DVDs on learning to sing that are available, but I would like to mention Elaine Overholt’s Big Voice DVD, which comes with an accompanying CD of warmup exercises. You can watch the technique video on her website.  Elaine is one of the most prominent vocal coaches in North America and coached the cast members of the Hollywood film Chicago, including Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Elaine has appeared on the Ellen Show to give Ellen a singing lesson:


See the other articles in this series:

Stay tuned for upcoming articles:

  • Learning to Sing? Part 5:  Online Videos and Podcasts
  • Learning to Sing? Part 6:  Sing Karaoke

Feel free to leave a comment to recommend or review a Singing Lesson CD/DVD that you’ve followed.


Posted by marcus smythe 27. November 2009 at 3:49 pm :

These lessons are great and if they can help ellen then maybe there’s hope for me too!

Posted by Pam Winn 28. November 2009 at 4:04 pm :

Great advice – thank you! Not every vocal coach is a good match for every singer. It’s important to choose carefully and be willing to switch if you’re getting counterproductive instructions, or if you’ve outgrown the skill sets of your coach.

One of the most critical coaching elements is the ability to hear what’s wrong and know the most helpful way to fix it, to know which part of the physiology is misshaped or working too hard or not hard enough.

That said, it looks like Elaine Overholt’s lessons will have something for everyone. Thanks again for your recommendations.

Posted by ¤ How to Sing Better…and Better…and Better ¤ 2. December 2009 at 1:58 am :

[…] Karaoke Lounge» Learning to Sing? Part 4 : Singing Lessons on CD … […]

Posted by Kerri 7. October 2010 at 9:14 am :

I’d be careful of a teacher who preys on people who can’t sing. Elaine Overholt touts herself as one of North America’s most respected and treasured singers, voice coaches and vocal producers. Pretty good self-promotion for someone who charges 120.00 an hour to make you make stupid lips. Just because she taught Renee Zellweger to sing one line doesn’t mean she is teaching people to sing properly.

I’d be leery of someone who preaches they are the best with nothing to back their approach scientifically.

Posted by Teresa 8. October 2010 at 1:01 pm :

Hi Kerri, thanks for the comment. It’s so true – you need to be careful about the teacher you choose work to with. Like any relationship, some people work well together and some people don’t. If you’re not comfortable with the teacher don’t continue the lessons, find someone who you can work well with. Do you have any recommendations for singing teachers or vocal coaches in your area?

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