Being a beginner singer is very frustrating and exciting at the same time. I grew up in a family full of amazing singers. My siblings and cousins were already at least 6 years older than me and had a head start at getting practice at school, church, and singing around the house or in the car. When I first really started to find my voice, boy was it shaky.
My sisters used to say “I’m not sure if she has the gift y’all..” (yeah, she was a snob). I was nervous about my ability to get on the level of my siblings, so between the age of 8 and 11, I started on a rigorous journey to getting better at singing. I’m still on that journey now, and I have a lot of great info that could help you if you’re on a similar journey. There are certain aspects you must consider, regardless if you're a male or a female singer. It's not just about range.
In my younger days, all I had was a tape recorder and a CD player. While at home after school, wasting the day away and slightly bored, I would always envision myself in a recording studio setting. I had my favorite tunes playing on the CD player while I recording myself singing on the tape player over the tracks, which weren’t even instrumentals by the way, but of course, that didn’t matter. I just wanted to get used to hearing myself.
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As you can imagine, I almost always hated what I heard. BUT! I didn’t stop recording. Day after day, I would record myself singing along to some Beyonce, the latest Ashanti hit, or some gospel songs that resonated with me from church. Eventually, I decided I wanted to take it a step further and play simple chords on our piano at home instead of using pop songs. I would play easy songs like Amazing Grace or original, unfinished little tunes I’d try to come up with myself. What I would do to find the tape recorder with these early magical recordings!
As time went by with me and my tape recorder, my parents noticed how dedicated I was to the whole recording thing. They decided it was a good idea to get me a computer recording software bundle for music. It was called Record Producer, and came with basic midi instruments, a basic mic, and endless possibilities for me to grow and learn how to grow my skills!
Even now, I notice that some of my best opportunities to grow come with the recording process. While recording in the booth does help a lot, I sometimes rely too heavily on audio effects to fix my errors. A more effective recent method of recording that helps me to get better is with video recordings. For cover songs and virtual video collaborations where I can’t (or rather avoid) adding edits, I must rely on skill alone. That’s when I hear most of my flaws and consistently work at trying to conquer them. While no one is perfect, and you’ll rarely find a live recording of someone not missing a note, the more you record, the better you’ll get.
I went to school for singing through middle school, high school, and college. While choir singing and private voice lessons definitely helped me tremendously, I want to dedicate a section of this post to something even more effective for me and my fellow musician classmates. It really kicked our asses and we somehow hated and loved it at the same time. The study method is called ear training.
Ear training is training your ear to be able to mimic, understand, and even anticipate a variety of pitches in music. This type of training focused on music scales and chords. A lot of very talented professional singers are as musically talented as they are today thanks to the ear training they went through in their school years.
Obviously, the younger you begin studying scales and chords, the better you will grasp the concepts and strengthen your understanding of music, but it’s never too late to start. The ear training resources I used the most heavily over 10 years ago are magically still available online and through an app called MusicTheory.net.
This is a free resource you should take advantage of right now!
Thanks to ear training, I am able to sing and create melodic lines and riffs that people still, to this day, have no idea where I pull ideas from. Even my friends that went through this process with me still say things like, “girl, your EAR is insane!” And that’s because I think I enjoyed ear training the most out of my circle of peers in music school.
One thing that humbled me was the fact that while I was learning and growing so much on my own, a lot of times, my nervousness when singing in front of a crowd would often make me look like a newbie to the music world. Depending on how bad your anxiety is, you can go from singing at a 9 out of 10 when you’re alone, to singing at a 5 out of 10 or less in front of a crowd.
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While this isn’t a problem that affects every singer, it is a problem that affects many. Even the most famous and successful singers get nervous as all hell about performing, and sometimes it actually affects their ability to sing well. The only answer to this problem is to take everything you’ve learned behind closed doors and start from scratch but in front of a crowd.
Do you get shaky when you sing? This will affect your vibrato and your ability to sustain long, pretty notes. Anticipate this problem and focus on singing slow songs under pressure as practice.
Does your mouth get dry when you perform? Be sure you’re well-hydrated well before a performance. It usually takes at least 2 hours for the water you chug to actually do some good for your voice.
Do you have shortness of breath when you get nervous? Focus on deep breathing exercises that will expand the amount of air you have to work within your lungs.
All in all, no matter what your goal is in getting better with singing, the key is always to practice consistently. Don’t expect easy results without putting in the work!
Related Post: Find performance opportunities to help you get better in front of a crowd.
Have you ever heard about the 10,000 hours it takes to perfect your craft? Just make sure you don’t stop at 10,000. There is always room to grow in life.
This blog was written by singer, songwriter and producer Yona Marie. As an Amazon Associate, Yona earns from qualifying purchases. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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