beautifying the voice with the quran
you should strive to read the quran in a nice sounding voice. one who was given a pleasant voice should strive as much as they are able. this should never resemble the style of music and songs.
al-baraa' ibn 'aazib narrated that the prophet said: "beautify the quran with your voices (i.e. by reciting it in a pleasant nice voice)." (abu daawood) the preferred reading is the quiet reading, where one hears himself without disturbing others.
'uqbah ibn 'aamir al-juhani narrated that the prophet said: "he who raises his voice with the quran is like one who displays his charity and he who lowers his voice with the quran is like he who gives charity privately." (abu daawood)
except of course that he should be able to hear himself. it is also without harm to raise one's voice with the quran sometimes for a particular purpose such as to perfect pronunciation, aid in memorization or to fight drowsiness. also included in this is teaching and learning and a condition for all of this is that it is not disturbing others or interrupting their prayer.
contemplating the meanings
when you recite the quran, you should remember the great kindness and favor of allaah upon his creation in allowing the meanings of his speech to enter his mind by means of this book. you should remember always that what you are reading is unlike any other book. keep the reality and greatness of the source of the quran present in your heart and ponder the meanings of what you are reading. this pondering and this understanding is, after all, the point of the quran and the point of reading it. if it can only be accomplished by repeating verses over and over, then do that and do not rush on to more verses. if you do not understand the arabic, then read and contemplate a translation of the meanings in your language after each verse you recite while remembering that what you are reading in another language is not the speech of allaah, but only the translation of the meaning.
abu tharr reported that the prophet once spent an entire night in contemplation of allaah's statement (that means): “if you punish them, they are your slaves…” [quran, 5:118].
when you recite the quran and contemplate its meanings, you should bring as much understanding as possible to each verse you read and get the full benefit of that verse. so for example, when you read verses that mention the creation of the heavens and the earth, have in your heart and mind the contemplation of the greatness and complexity of all that allaah has created.
when you read about the creation of the fetus from some liquids in the body and the stages it goes through in development, reflect on the great power of allaah in bringing about something so complex from something so simple.
staying away from all that blocks or prevents understanding
for example, evil thought may inject into your heart that you have not read correctly and pronounced a letter exactly correctly and so you get stuck on that and forget about concentrating on the meanings. another cause is if the reciter is engaged in a sin on a continuous basis, or is arrogant or imprisoned by his desires. all of this is a cause of darkness of the heart and its rust. it is like dirt on a mirror that prevents true vision.
the heart is like a mirror and the desires and distractions are like the dirt and the meanings of the quran are like the images seen in the mirror. so exercise your heart by setting desires aside and focusing against all distractions as if you are cleaning a mirror.
when you recite the quran, you must know that you are the one being addressed in the quran with the promises and the threats. and that its tales were not sent for entertainment but to learn from and take warning. on this basis, you can contemplate the book and act upon its directions.