Housemates, family or neighbours can all make singing practice a bit daunting. There's the fear of being judged or annoying people, which can turn something you love into something you dread. This article outlines ways you can practice quietly so that you can grow your passion for singing.
Humming is an easy way to practice singing quietly. However, if you need to sing loudly or with lyrics, you can muffle your voice by singing into a pillow, singing into cupped hands or singing in an insulated space. Otherwise, you could drown out your voice with white noise, music or the outdoors.
I will explain exactly what I mean with each of these suggestions below. But trying to sing quietly isn't always a good idea, which I will explain further down.
7 Tips on How to Practice Singing Quietly
It's easy enough to choose a soft song or sing when you know nobody is listening, but if you're in a situation where you need to practice singing something loud or when there are others around, try one of these tips below.
1. Sing Softly or Hum
You can practice singing quietly simply by singing softer or humming the tune. Doing this will allow you to work on your pitch and rhythm. However, make sure you don't let your voice become breathy.
Letting too much air out when singing softly will encourage poor breathing techniques. This will then make it harder to sing properly when you are in a position to do so.
You can make this even quieter by retreating to a room by yourself or using one of the other tips mentioned below.
2. Sing into a Pillow or Your Hands
Singing into a pillow muffles most of your voice, which is why it is recommended if you need to let off some steam by screaming. Hopefully you're not doing any screaming, but this will allow you to practice singing loudly, while only a fraction of the sound is released.
Singing loudly is important because the act of singing loudly uses your diaphragm and the muscles of the larynx differently to when you sing softly. If you don't practice loudly, you will find it harder to do so when you get the opportunity.
One downside is that it can get very stuffy singing into a pillow and breathing is not easy. As a compromise, you could try cupping your hands tightly around your mouth and nose. This will seal some of the sound in and still allow you to breath and sing loudly.
3. Sing in the Car
The car is a great place to practice singing. You can either sit in your car in the garage or parked in an open space. Having the car running will help drown out the sound and keep you comfortable (cool/warm), but this will also use up your gas.
If parking elsewhere, consider an empty carpark where you won't be disturbed. Or you could choose somewhere noisy to drown out any faint sounds that cut through. Either way, I would recommend locking your doors so you can focus on the music.
Don't worry if you don't have access to a car and this is not an option for you. Keep reading to discover many other ways of muffling or drowning out your voice.
4. Soundproof a Practice Room
You can turn most rooms into a practice room by adding sound-absorbing materials. Either find yourself some dedicated sound-proofing foam to convert an entire room into a practice room, or choose one that already has lots of blankets, carpet, etc.
Any kind of soft material will help absorb sound, so you can line windows and doors with blankets or cushions and cover any hard smooth surfaces. Singing towards a wall is also going to be louder than singing to a wall of clothes, so perhaps consider opening up the closet and singing into that.
Walk-in-robes are perfect for this reason. They are mostly filled with clothes and they are small and carpeted. Just make sure that no walls of your practice room are shared with someone else (although solid brick walls are great for absorbing sound).
5. Use White Noise
If you can't dampen your voice, you can try to drown it out with other noise. This obviously depends on whether you need to keep everything quiet or if you just don't want other to hear your voice.
If you are able to turn on some extra sound, try using the TV in the background or having some white noise like a fan or dryer. You could even just play the song you want to practice so that the backing track and original vocals mask your own singing.
Singing in the shower is a tricky one. You have the white noise of the shower drowning out your voice, but the acoustics are enhanced by all the smooth tiles and walls. It's still a possibility though.
6. Walk Around the Bustling Outdoors
Singing while outdoors is also a possibility to drown out your voice. You might know somewhere that is so loud that it's hard to hear others talking. This could be a train station, busy intersection, loud public park, etc.
7. Choose Your Time of Day
Another option is to be considerate of when you practice your singing. If you know there is a particular time that your neighbour mows their lawn, use this opportunity to drown out your voice with the lawn mower.
You may also know a time of day when you have the house to yourself or when neighbours are at work. This can help reduce the chances of anyone hearing you practice.
Is It Good to Practice Singing Quietly?
Singing quietly is great to build your confidence by practicing your pitch, rhythm, lyrics or any vocal inflections you would like to add to the melody. However, you should not get into the habit of always practicing quietly.
As I mentioned earlier, your voice needs practice making loud sounds. The muscles in your larynx need to learn how to move when adding volume to your voice in order to control it.
Your diaphragm will also work differently when making a louder sound, so you need to have the opportunity to practice breath-control when singing loud.
Therefore, singing quietly can have a negative impact on your singing if you do not allow yourself to sing loudly as well. This is why I have included a number of ways that you can muffle your normal voice, instead of singing softly
You also do not want to get into the habit of sing 'under your breath'. Whispering and allowing more air to escape than usual will allow the muscles in your larynx to become more lax. If they lose tone, you will have to work hard to get that tone back.
More air will also dry out your throat. This can lead to strain on your voice or damage to your vocal cords (click here for reasons your throat may hurt after singing).
However, if you are careful to balance practice with singing softly and loudly and do not allow yourself to sing under your breath, singing quietly can be a great way to practice and boost your confidence.