For vocal beginners, singing can be daunting! There are so many terms and concepts that can easily overwhelm and deter people new to the craft. That’s where T.A.A’s Music Toolbox for Beginner Singer’s comes in!
This Toolbox for Beginner Singer’s provides all the information and links you need to get started with confidence!
Ready? Let’s go!
Pitch refers to ones ability to match specific notes. For example, the note C is a different pitch than the note G. If you ever hear anyone refer to someones singing as “pitchy”, they mean that the singer is having difficulty matching the notes of the song correctly. In vocal pedagogy, pitch is often practice using solfege (do re mi) or scale degrees (1, 2, 3, 4).
Often confused with pitch, key refers to the specific set of notes used in a song. In music theory, each key consists of 7 notes. These 7 notes sound nice together and are thus used to write songs.
When you hear people refer to trying to find the right key, what they mean is they are trying to figure out which collection of 7 notes will sound the best in their voice. The key of a song can be moved up and down in order to make a song higher or lower to better fit someones voice.
If you are trying to sing a song and it seems too low or too high, you may need to change the key!
Timing refers to the rhythm of the music. In order to sound good while singing, we have to make sure our vocals line up in time with the background music. Each song has a beat, and every instrument follows this beat.
If you are ever singing and feel a bit lost as to where you are in the song, that is probably a timing issue!
The words tone and timbre both refer to the same thing in music; the quality and characteristics of the way a person or instrument sounds. Tone and timbre are the reason every persons voice sounds different! So, when working on tone, a singer is learning how to not only sound their best, but also how to create different textures and colors in the voice to better express the emotions they are singing about.
Song form uses a number of smaller terms to organize the sections of songs. This is important for understanding the patterns used in music. These terms are as follows:
The intro is the part of a song that is just music. It begins a song to introduce the mood before the singing starts.
The verses are the parts of the song that have different words and don’t repeat. They move the song forward and tell the lyrical story.
The chorus is the part of the song that repeats 3 or more times. The chorus is usually the catchiest part of a song and often contains its title.
The bridge is a short section of a song, usually towards the end. It provides a slight change up before we get back to the final chorus.
Songs often have a short musical section known as an outro to close the track up.
How To Practice Pitch
Practicing pitch can be quite tricky at the beginning of someones vocal journey. This is because it is hard for many singers to know if they are on or off pitch without the feedback of a music professional. However, once the student is able to hear if they are on or off, the best way to improve pitch is singing scales!
A great online resource for this is The Singing School, a YouTube channel full of solfege scales.
There are also many Apps available that allow singers to record and analyze how often they are in-tune. They also provide a visual of how far sharp or flat the singer is from a certain note, which can be very helpful for more visual learners.
A great one to check out is called Tuneable
How To Know What Key To Sing In
Since every song is different, there is no perfect formula that will work to find the right key every time. However, there are some general concepts that can help you figure things out faster!
Changing the key of a song is known as transposition. The song can either be moved up or down in semi tones. If a song is slightly too high on certain notes you may want to try transposing it down by 1 or 2 semi tones, and vice versa, if the song is too low you may want to try bumping it up a semi tone or two.
In general, you want to try to keep as close to the original key as possible as large changes can sound a bit off to listeners familiar with the song.
The exception to this rule is if it is being done for special effect, or if the key is being changes from a woman’s voice to a mans, or mans to a woman’s. In this case the difference is commonly 4 to 5 semitones.
If a song is popular enough you can often find karaokes in higher and lower keys on YouTube! Singer’s can experiment and see what suits them best.
If the perfect key can’t be found the easy way, there are fantastic Apps available that allow you to transpose to any key!
A great choice for this is AnyTune, which allows users to slow down the tempo, adjust the pitch, and even loop tricky sections for practice!
How To Practice Timing
Timing in music has a lot in common with timing in dancing. Rhythm, though understood with the mind is felt in the body. Learning to listen to music and tap, clap or dance along is one of the best ways to practice connecting the brain to the body!
It can also be helpful when listening to a track to pay close attention to the snare or clap sound, which is often on beats 2 or 4.
For an even more advanced work out, students can try singing A Cappella to a metronome (a device that clicks every beat at a set static tempo).
How To Breath
At first glance, the answer to this seems self-evident, an equivalent to “how to walk”! Yet, for singing there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to breathing!
There are many schools of thought when it comes to the breath and vocal use, and these techniques are often associated with certain styles such as opera or musical theatre. For popular music however, it is really quite simple; diaphragm breathing!
Check out this video for a in depth explanation!
How To Continue To Improve Your Voice
Our Toolbox for Beginner Singer’s provides you with all the key concepts to get started with today, at home, by yourself! However, the tricky thing about singing is it can be really hard to tell if you are doing certain exercises correctly, or if the concepts are actually translating into real-world sound.
This is why a great personal vocal teacher is a must! Trained vocal coaches can easily hear and correct techniques and provide the personalized feedback that a video or audio program never will.
Here at T.A.A we have over 30 highly trained teachers excited to help you find your voice! Give us a call today to find out how we can help continue your musical education beyond our Toolbox for Beginner Singer’s!