Expanding Your Vocal Horizons
Learning how to sing is an extremely beneficial and exciting experience, but a lot of it can be very technical and boring. You’re tired of singing scale after scale, note after note, weird siren after weird siren. When you’ve become proficient in the fundamentals, what’s left to learn? Last month, we talked about expanding your piano playing into different genres and styles once you’ve mastered the basics. This month, we’re diving into the world of singing and discussing the different styles of singing and the benefits of learning how to adapt to various genres.
With shows like American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and so many other televised singing competitions being as popular as they are, singers are having to perform so many different genres at the drop of a hat. How do you figure out how to sing all these genres, or do you just sing them? First, you need to have a basic understanding of your voice and what your limitations are. You shouldn’t expect to sing everything the same as the original artist, your voice is unique and so it’s going to sound unique. Second, you need to know how to control your voice and understand the differences between styles. The third and final thing you need to know is different songs in different genres!
- Know your limitations: if your head voice isn’t mature yet, don’t try to make yourself sound exactly like Katy Perry. Let your voice ease into different notes. If you can’t make your runs clean at the rate of Ellie Goulding, slow yourself down and practice it note-by-note. You’re not going to be proficient in a new style automatically; it takes time to learn new ways of controlling your voice.
- Controlling your voice in different styles: Pop singing has a more focused sound and brighter vowels with less vibrato, whereas classical singing is very open with lots of vibrato. Folk singing utilizes a softer head voice and more harmony, while rock singing has a strong mixed voice with some rasp. There are slight differences between every genre, but the fundamentals stay the same. Playing around with your voice (and avoiding strain) is a great way to ease into singing different styles better.
- Listen to different genres!!
- Musical Theater – listen to songs from Wicked or Les Miserables to get started!
- Jazz – listen to “Fever” by Peggy Lee or “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra to get started!
- Pop – listen to “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift or “Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake to get started!
- Rock – listen to “Come As You Are” by Nirvana or “Brick by Boring Brick” by Paramore to get started!
- Classical – listen to songs sung by Pavarotti or Renee Fleming to get started!
- Folk – listen to “Country Roads” by John Denver or “Miles” by Peter, Paul and Mary to get started!
- Indie – listen to “New Slang” by The Shins or “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver to get started!
- Gospel – listen to anything by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir or listen to Mandisa to get started!
- Country – listen to “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood or “Homegrown” by Zac Brown Band
- Don’t forget about international music, too!
Not only does listening and singing different genres help you become a better, more well-rounded singer, but it also opens you up to a whole new world of music that you could potentially fall in love with!