I know, I know: I hate to burst anyone's bubble here, or be the bearer of the bad-news-you-already-knew-but-wanted-to-pretend-you-didn't news. But, I am here to officially tell you:
There are no "quick fixes."
There are no "shortcuts."
There are no magic singing-pills that will miraculously eradicate the vocal issues you struggle with (though if there is, someone get me in on that so we can split the profits 50/50, yeah?).
When it comes to pretty much any skill we want to learn and hone - and most especially when it comes to that most elusive of instruments, the voice - it takes perseverance, practice, and patience. See, the voice, as I'm sure you're well aware is such a special and unique instrument, but along with that comes a lot of slippery slopes. Singing is HARD! It won't always be, but let's just take a moment to collectively give ourselves a damn hug and remind ourselves that we're working on something that is, indeed, tricky. No shame in admitting that. But, I have a lot of people come in here looking for advice on a "trick" to do this thing or that with their voices and while I do have a slew of tricks in my bag 'o tricks to help you clean out those bad-habits and build better ones, there isn't really any one trick that's going to just click it all in. If you think about it, the voice is really the ONLY instrument you have to actually build before you can use it the way you want to. No one hands guitar players (okay, unless they're a Luthier) a hunk of wood and tells them they have to learn how to build the guitar before they can even start learning chords! But with the voice, it's critical to build and establish a strong foundation and good vocal habits. You only get one voice, and if you blow it, you can't swap it out or buy a new one. It's also a *really* delicate instrument doing a lot of heavy-ass lifting. That's why it's so important to learn HOW it works, identify certain habits that YOU have when it comes to singing, and then do the work to replace the unhealthy habits with healthier ones. It's why, in m personal opinion, YouTube tutorials don't exactly cut it when it comes to the voice: everyone's voice, body, mental and emotional lives, and beliefs about singing are SO vastly different and subjective, that it really makes the "one-size-fits-all" approach not work so great. There's also a wealth of inaccurate, misunderstood, and just plain bad information out there about singing.
So. What to do about building your voice? Here's my steps for getting started with every student I see:
1. Get a professional opinion. You don't need to sign up for long-term lessons, per se; but I believe that it is crucial to have a voice coach give you an assessment of what you're doing healthily, and what you're doing unhealthily - and to explain to you HOW this is holding you back from singing the way you want to. They can give you a game plan based on where you're at now, and within a couple lessons. A note on this: beware ANY voice teachers who do promise a "quick fix" or any "this ONE trick transformed my voice!" rhetoric. While it may be true that one adjustment of a poor habit can vastly improve the quality of your singing, there's really not just "one" trick that will work for everyone. There are certainly best singing practices, but just be wary of someone who sounds like they're selling snake oil.
2. Learn how your instrument works. You'd be surprised how many singers don't even have a correct (or healthy) grasp of how their instrument works. There's no other instrumentalist in the world who plays their instrument without having a basic knowledge of how it works. Educate yourself - I promise it will make your navigation of vocal troubles SO much easier. A couple instructors I can personally vouch for and have studied with on Contemporary Vocal Technique are Dena Murray (Musician's Institute), Coreen Sheehan (Musician's Institute), and Anne Peckham (Berklee College of Music). These women really know their stuff - Dena Murray, in particular, has several amazing books that really make the voice easy to understand and tackle.
3. Get the girls (or dudes) working! As I said above, there's no substitute for putting in the time and work on your vocal cords, and correcting any bad habits. It has such huge, long-ranging, and long-lasting effects on your voice and abilities as a singer - vocal health is no joke, and I know I sound like a stuffy, boring-ass Virgo here (guilty as charged!), but treat your voice like the precious damn thang it is! Practice doesn't need to be a long affair, either. I advocate for regularity in shorter bursts of time - but with focus on whatever concept or technique you are working on at the time.
Here's an awesome TED video about practicing effectively - it doesn't have to be daunting, just focused, mindful, and done with some regularity.
Happy singing, my loves.