You love to sing. You do whatever it takes to sound good, but it's not always easy. You have your embarrassing moments. Sometimes your voice feels tight. Sometimes you get the note but not always with the best tone. Sometimes your voice cracks and you run out of air too soon. But you keep on going because you're determined to do this wonderful, magical thing that for some possibly unexplainable reason you can't imagine life without the magic and the power of singing. But could it ever feel easier? Many singers tend to do a few specific things, which actually make singing harder. Here are a few tricks of the trade that make singing easier no matter what your style. Quick Tip #1: Relax your tongue. Does your tongue tense as you sing? Does the back of it pull up as you go for a higher note? Does it pull back into the back of your mouth? (That will cause it to tense.) Try this: Select a song to sing. As you do, rest the tip of your tongue behind your bottom teeth. It will need to move a bit to accomplish some of the consonants, but otherwise, especially as you sing long notes, leave it relaxed low in your mouth with the tip resting against the back of your bottom teeth. It may take a bit of practice to break the habit of tensing and overworking it. Remember, do let it move for the consonants your words will still be understandable. But you will discover that releasing tension in the tongue has a lot to do with singing becoming easier. Quick Tip #2: Relax your lips. When you sing do you tense your lips? Are you exaggerating their movement, or that of your cheeks, or the opening of your mouth? Try this: Put on a recording of a song you like to sing or a backing track of a song you perform. Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself as you sing. Really put yourself into the song and watch your face, especially your lips and mouth. If you exaggerate the movement of your face as part of achieving the notes, this tension will back up into your throat and you will find yourself pushing against this tension. Remedy: Gently place the palms of both your hands on either side of your mouth on the sides of your face. Sing the song again and let your hands help you to relax the movements of your lips, checks and mouth. Of course there will be movement but with this we are working on letting the movement be relaxed and natural. How does that feel? Do you notice a difference in how you sound as well? (Hint: it should be automatically easier and better.) Facial expressions should be part of your expression of the song - not to get your voice to work. Quick Tip #3: Breathe into your back. Do you push your stomach forward when you take a breath and then push it in when you sing? If so, you're pushing out too much air, which will in turn over-pressurize your vocal folds and cause them to either tense or over relax. Or, as you sing, do you exhale or in some way push up or push out your air? Instead try this: Put your hands on the back of your sides (not the front, the back). Take a breath letting your ribs in back expand. You will probably feel the air coming into your back. Now sing. As you do, let your stomach remain relaxed and maintain the open position of your back). Do this a few times so you can really test it out. Explanation: When air comes into your body it goes into your lungs. The biggest parts of your lungs fill about 3/4ths of your back. To fill with air, your lungs need your rib cage to expand. The expansion of your ribs is what physically opens your lungs. This movement is what pulls-in your breath. If your ribs collapse as you sing or if your stomach pushes inwards, too much breath is expelled too fast. This can cause tension in your throat and can make reaching certain pitches more difficult. Singing with your ribs expanded results in a fuller voice. This essay first published August 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.