Learning how to practice effectively can make a huge impact on fast-tracking your singing development and a song study should be a key element.
Having a specific song study to practice your technique with is essential.
Regardless of whether you are a professional singer gigging regularly with a big repertoire of songs or just singing for fun, you need to have a song or two to hone your skills on.
Find a song that you love, find interesting or you feel may be vocally challenging.
UPDATED 13th September 2021
Listen to the song and note all the things that draw you into it. 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 best sing it and interpret 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.
The focus of a Song Study practice allows you to get into the nitty gritties of learning your own style, of learning the song, understanding how to reinterpret somebody else’s and just really looking at the song from the ground up from its skeleton and figuring out how you want to deliver it in the best way possible.
So find yourself a song study one a month is ideal. It’s a great way of building up your repertoire and just actually studying lots of different music too.
Elements to focus to engage your technique and help find your signature sound:
How does the singer phrase? Ahead or behind the beat? Do they stress the important words or strange words that if the phrase was spoken, would seem out of place?
Are there any specific vowels being sustained or modified? Is there signature enunciation or pronunciation of words?
Are they using a warm and dark or 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 tastefully.
Embellishments (riffs, melisma, runs)
How are these used to create a signature sound for the singer or build dynamics or memorable moments in a song?
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.
Does the singer use a more conversational tone in the verse and amp up 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 zone or number of notes within our range that when aligned, create a sweet spot where it’s easier to balance your tone 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 can keep the techniques in your trick bag to help deliver killer 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 singing.