Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.
Have you always enjoyed singing, but haven’t ever pursued it? Did you like trying a couple of the singing ideas in this series? Today I want to give you some ideas and resources to enable you to successfully pursue singing more.
Join a Chorus– Consider searching your local newspapers and internet for community chorus groups. Many are free and require no audition. In this type of a group, you can start learning basic singing techniques, music-reading skills, and part-singing. You will have the chance to perform without the pressure of solo work. Plus, you will make new friends and perhaps find other avenues of vocal interest to pursue.
Sing in a Church- Many churches have choirs, bands, special music, or small ensembles that you can participate in. Plus, the audience is generally less critical than a paying concert-goer, so it’s not so nerve-wracking. You can gain experience and enjoy learning from others in a non-competitive setting.
Consider Private Lessons- If you find that you really love singing and want to take it to the next step, consider private lessons. A teacher can give you an experienced ear and advice for how to help you solve struggles you have while singing. This is something you most likely will not receive in a community or church choir.
But a word to the wise: take your time in choosing a teacher. Ideally, he or she should be able to help you blend and expand your range, enrich your voice quality, enhance your technical ability, and essentially teach him or herself out of a job over the course of a few years. If you are just going into your voice lesson and practicing songs without focusing on developing the voice you may be missing out. (And also, please don’t overpay. I’m constantly shocked by the sticker shock of music lessons!)
Books- Books can’t listen to how you sound and help you change it for the better. But books are necessary- after all, they contain the music! I’m including a list of some of my favorite vocal books that I use for teaching beginner- intermediate students.
Thirty Daily Exercises for Low Voice (or, for high voice)- (Concone) This book presents series of vocal exercises that begin slowly and become progressively more challenging throughout the book. They are meant to be sung on “ah,” though this can be changed as needed. Great for anyone, from beginners to experts. Everyone’s gotta practice the basics!
50 Lessons, Op. 9: Medium Voice– (Concone)- In the same vein as the Daily Exercise book, but instead of practicing your skills through scales and arpeggios, you practice them through singing beautifully arranged mini-songs. Again, meant to be sung on an open vowel or solfeggi (Think Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music).
The Choral Warm-Up Collection– Great for teachers and students alike. If you don’t know how to get your voice going each day, this book includes many, many warm-ups and exercises that can help. Each includes a short blurb about how the exercises should be practiced and how it can help. Very useful!
Bel Canto Principles and Practices– The practice of Bel Canto has totally undermined my previous understanding of the voice and revamped my teaching. I’ll have to write a huge post about it one day, but for now, this: Bel Canto is the old Italian school of singing, focusing on pure vowels, fluid movement throughout the voice, and perfect blending of high and low registers. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what Bel Canto is and isn’t, and this book really helps to clear it up. It’s also expensive though. Maybe your library has a copy!
The Singing Book (Second Edition)– This is a helpful book for new singers, including technical sections (addressed in modern singing methods, not Bel Canto, but it’s still helpful!) and many songs ranging from folk to Broadway to world music to classical. It’s a very nice selection. (Do not buy the ridiculously inflated books from this link. Buy the used copies!)
Pathways of Song, Vol 1: Low Voice (Pathways of Song Series)– The mission of the Pathways of Song Series is to collect music that is both simple and beautiful. Each song is worthy of being sung by the most highly acclaimed singers, but they are easy enough that new singers can use them as learning tools. My first voice lessons were largely out of the Pathways of Song books.
36 Solos for Young Singers– Have a 10 or 11 year old who loves to sing? Give this book a whirl. Tasteful, age-appropriate arrangements of simple melodies are included in this young singer’s repertoire.
Folk Songs for Solo Singers– Lovely arrangements of traditional songs in this series (check them all out!). Poor Wayfaring Stranger, The Water is Wide, Danny Boy, and all those tunes that are vaguely familiar in the back of your mind are brought to life in this series.
24 Italian Songs & Arias – Medium Low Voice (Book/CD): Medium Low Voice – Book/CD (Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics) This is THE book for those looking to pursue more serious classical singing. You don’t sing anywhere til you’ve dipped your feet into the Italian art songs and arias.
Oh goodness, there are too many to list… but these are for starters. If you have a specific song or genre that you want to pursue I’ll be happy to do some research for you and give you a recommendation for a book! The cost of sheet music can add up, so it’s good to try to purchase collections wisely.
Okay, singers, experienced and novice, what’s your favorite way to pursue more singing? Have a splendid day today. 🙂
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