When you want to fast-track your singing development, having a song study is essential.

Regardless of whether you are a professional singer gigging regularly with a big repertoire of songs or singing for fun, you need to have a song or two to hone your skills on.

A song study is a specially selected song to practice your singing technique.

UPDATED 24th July 2023

How To Song Study

Find a song that you love, find interesting or you feel may be vocally challenging.

Start by taking a deep dive into the song.

Listen to the song and note all the things that you like. The lyrics, melody, note choices (high or low) and any nuances about the vocal delivery.

Look at it from every angle to work out how you can interpret the song when you sing it. This can help you to explore the song more freely and creatively.

If you’re not gigging regularly, a Song Study can be a performance opportunity that you can create for yourself, whether you are putting it up on YouTube or performing at open mic nights.

Having a Song Study allows you to explore your own vocal style, by understanding how to reinterpret somebody else’s story via song.

Ideally find yourself a song study to do once a month.

It’s a great way of building up your repertoire and just actually studying lots of different music too.

Song Study Elements

Focussing on these storytelling elements can assist you in becoming a better singer as well as help you discover your signature sound.

Breath Management

Where does the singer breathe in each line of the song? Do they take a breath in “natural” parts of the phrase?

You can work out where it is “natural” to breath in a phrase by speaking the lyric.

For example, if you take a breath in the middle of a word, it may not serve the storytelling.

If you were to sing the phrase “I will always love you”, taking a breath in the middle of the word “lo-ve”, may sound a bit unnatural.

Listen to Whitney Houston singing this iconic phrase:

At no time time does Whitney break up the most important words with breath, no matter how long the phrase is.

Start by printing the lyrics of your chosen song and mark out where you hear the singer breathing. You can use a forward slash ( / ) or an apostrophe ( ‘ ).

Sometimes it can be hard to hear from a studio recording so watching a live performance can tell you a lot about where the singer will breathe.

Not only does breath power the voice quality choices you make, can be used as a stylistic tool.

An awesome example is in the song “Never Enough” from the Greatest Showman, the lyric “I’m trying to hold my breath” is emphasised with an audible breath and a pause in the music.


How does the singer phrase? Ahead or behind the beat? Do they stress the important words or do they emphasise words that, if the phrase was spoken, would seem out of place?

Again, speak the lyric to give you an understanding of where you would naturally emphasise in a phrase.

While this is a general guideline, there are always exceptions to the rule!

For example, in Chandelier, there is a lyric,” feel my tears as they dry”. She sings dry-high!

Voice Quality

Do you notice anything unique about the vocal delivery? A squeak like in Sia’s voice?

Or vocal fry (sounds like a creaky door!) at the start and ends of many of the phrases in Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time” baby”

Maybe it’s an accent that comes through strongly.

Perhaps there are specific vowels being sustained or modified and a signature enunciation or pronunciation of words? 


Is there anything that stands out about the singers tone? Is it warm and dark or a clear and bright tone?


Is the singer using vibrato throughout the line or just on the ends of the phrase?

Vibrato helps convey emotion if done thoughtfully and intentionally.

Embellishments (riffs, melisma, runs)

How are these used to create a signature sound for the singer or to build memorable moments in a song?

The intro riff in Beyonce’s “Countdown” is a great example.

If you want to learn a particular riff, the best way to do this is to slow it down so you can identify the notes and then practice them slowly.

This is a great way to improve your vocal agility.


Does the singer use a more conversational tone in the verse and amp up to a belt in the chorus?


Always work your strengths by opting for a song that is in a good key for you.

Most of us have a grouping of notes within our range that when aligned, create a sweet spot where it’s easier to control our voice and singing is comfortable and free.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t challenge yourself as that is how you extend your range and explore new corners of your voice.


Even if you play an instrument and can accompany yourself, rather focus on your singing when doing a song study.

Grab karaoke backings to practice with. YouTube, iTunes/Apple Music and Spotify have loads of options.

Pulling it all together

These ideas just scratch the surface as to what you can take from the song study process.

You’ll build your Singers Technique Toolkit to help deliver outstanding vocals.

I would love to hear and see your process of song study and the results of it.

Challenge yourself to pick, practice, polish, perform and post a song to YouTube or Instagram!

No matter where you are on your vocal development journey, becoming a better singer (and staying good!) begins with more focused practice and singing.

A song study is the way to do that!


Leave a comment or ask me a question!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.