– This post comes from the old Forum. It was useful enough to offer it again here –
I was never in a choir and I was never praised for my singing voice.
I still hate hearing myself sing but I love to do it.
when I do solo gigs; people approach me by saying “I have a good singing voice”.
what does that even mean. It took some years to do it and to progress I will need professional lessons.
I agree that you can have some physical advantage on others but I also think that factor is massively overrated
damn right you can train it. I believe that 80% of what I can today with my voice is thanks to singing a lot and listening to myself. Knowing my boundaries, how to adapt, how to expand range, very gradually.
One thing I did on autopilot since I was a kid was listening to melody. Guitar and vocals. recognizing them instantly, hearing when a note was sharp or flat or timings were different.
It would bother me if somebody would sing a wrong note in a simple, famous melody.
I guess this “passive” training helped me develop before I even knew it.
just like drawing is 80% looking and 20% putting a pencil on paper; I approach singing just the same way. To me, singing is 80% listening. it’s just as important as in playing guitar:
- am I in tune?
- am I in the right octave (oh don’t laugh, you can be singing the right note but in a higher or lower octave. In many cases, that isn’t even a problem though)
- and most of all; what’s my range?
it is important to listen to yourself, both while singing (to correct on the fly) as afterward.
Record yourself, listen. cringe. get over the cringe. listen where you go wrong.
You will hear A LOT more mistake and impurities when listening to yourself afterwards.
retry. I revisit old recordings once in a while and then you notice your progress.
There are a lot of songs that I try but certain ends, low or highs, don’t fit me. I lose power if it is too low or I’ll squeek when going higher.
Guitar capo to the rescue!
my capo is paramount in my solo setup. when I sang a lot the last couple of weeks, my range gets extendes by 3 half tones. Some songs sound better to me if I play them higher than I usually do. I know the basic chord grips I need for the song and because I need to go on autopilot; I put on the capo and sing it in a key that fits me on THAT exact moment.
Learning a new song is useless for me without a capo. I learn to play the basic chords and I will search for the key that overlaps most with my range.
If you want to learn how to play AND sing; work in layers and buy a capo.
Try recording your guitar and sing over that first. Does the key even fit you?
try to find a key by sliding the capo up and down and test the recordign to your singing.
don’t worry about it being all good.
focus on comfort first
I trust you will FEEL in which key you manage best to cover the lows or reach the highs.
That’s the playground you want to play in.
then start of trying to hum or “lalala” over your playing.
don’t stop playing. if you need to stop something, stop singing for a moment but keep on playing. Rhythm is the leader. There are plenty enough threads here about learning how to sing and play together but singing itself needs practice and maintainance.
you can train your ear to listen to yourself but if you don’t sing for weeks, you will lose your souplesse and power. As soon as you can play and sing a little together, you are practicing both.
some songs you can transpose with a capo, other you might want to transpose with this tool
this tool allows you to copy paste a song with chords and it translates them to a different key. Try to find a shift that ends up with chords that suit you. you can still use your capo from there on!
Next to my capo, that is the second most important thing when I quick want to figure out if a certain songs suits me or not…and in what key.
To wrap up, some tips.
- Singing is about “brilliance on the basics”. fidn a good range and but the biggest effort in doing what you can but -better-. Listen to Johnny Cash. He sings rather low and his voice gets rougher every decade but he has control. you should have absolute control of your basics. build upon that but don’t go skipping octaves and doing jumps if you’re still struggling with pitch in your comfort zone. This isn’t a guitar where you go pick a different note on the other side of the fretboard. This is you getting a firm grip of control on your homeland while your gradually expand your borders, up and down the range. don’t do “decorative” stuff in songs if your singing skills are still basic. all the curly stuff singers like Rihanna and Christina Aguilera do only work when you actually -nail- it.
- drink a lot of water, before, while and after singing.
- avoid soda/pop/sugary stuff. Nothing wrong with an occasional beer or whiskey; it even will loosen you up a little but drink a lot of water still!
- your favourite songs to hear =/= your best songs to sing. Make peace with that. When you get better, you’ll take a humbling and ambitous take on them but try to find easier songs you like first and find a good range.
- open up, emotionally. singing songs can be jolly cumbaya but the best stuff, comes from the heart.
- get over the shame you feel because somebody is listening. Holding back is terrible for your pitch and power.
- don’t feel dumb because you can’t play and sing right away. I always admired people who could play and sing. wow. I couldn’t understand it. envied them. Then I just started. My first song was “where is my mind” by the pixies. It has bar chords. Then I tried Creep by Radiohead. Als bar chords.
Needless to say, the power in my thumb and fingers developed way quicker than my singing voice and my bar chords went better and better. Then I learned to fingerpick. Then I learned to add decorations to my chords while fingerpicking (All thanks to Justin,using sus2,sus4 and 9 chords are pillars to my fignerpicking today.)
You build up in layers and it all starts with quarternote strums
when you got that basic, droning rhythm daown and you can sing a few notes while your song is consistent, you conquered a BIG hurdle.
Get up, stand up!
I really think you should consider trying some guitar practice standing up.
If you struggle with power,stability, high or low notes, standing up will enable you to have a good straight posture, both feet on the ground, chin straight but not up.
Do this and imagine yourself yelling “hey” to somebody you know 100 feet away. Your body needs to build tension in your abdomen and you take control of your diaphragm for a second. This is the first step to achieve “vocal support” and you could try to emulate that when singing long notes, high notes, low notes…