by Koichi Nakamura
We all love singing, especially our favourite songs. They might be pop, rock, R&B…Death metal!? But is there a difference between a song that is merely fun to sing and one that builds our voice? Is every song a good one to practice or are some better for you than others?
I believe there are songs that will help you improve more quickly and some that might actually slow down your development. Choosing the right song for your voice isn’t always easy. Let’s analyze the parameters of songs that could affect your vocal growth.
Before you can determine which songs improve your singing, you first need to understand your own voice. Are you currently having trouble singing low notes…or high notes? Do you suffer from breaks or flips? Or do you strain singing the higher notes?
Songs have tendencies, just like your voice. The most important thing is to understand the strengths and the weaknesses of your own voice so you can choose a song that helps you overcome those weaknesses.
Trying to assess your own voice’s challenges is very difficult to do objectively, so it’s best to take a lesson with a certified singing teacher. We here at SWVS would be happy to help you understand what’s happening in your voice.
Once you’ve discovered where your voice is at, it’s time to choose a song with a range that matches your stage of development. It’s crucial to pick a song range that helps build up your weak spots.
If you are a female singer working on building your lower register, it’s a good idea to pick songs that stay below G4 (G above middle C), which is the Chest Voice range for female singers. For example, “Stay” by Rhianna has a great E4 sustain in the chorus to encourage your Chest Voice to develop.
If you are just learning how to smooth out your vocal transitions (called passages), choose a song with a few high notes. Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is a great song for male singers who are developing their mix voice. This song starts in the lower register, but then the F4 sustains in the chorus encourage you to move out of the Chest Voice into your “mix.”
If you are a more advanced male singer, you might want to try a harder song that lingers on higher notes for an extended duration. For example, “Thinking out Loud” by Ed Sheeran would be a good choice for a male singer who is ready to tackle his middle and top registers.
In addition to range, the tempo of a song can have a significant impact on your voice. During the early stages of developing new neuromuscular patterns (e.g. learning a sport or a musical instrument), it’s best to practice at a slower tempo.
I recommend ballads to students who are just beginning their voice training. With a slower song, you have more time to find the pitches, form vowels, and breathe between phrases. Through consistent training and practice, your reflexive and muscular function will improve so you can eventually sing songs that are more up-tempo.
I hope you have a better idea now of how to choose a song that builds your voice. Voice Discovery, Range, and Tempo are essential parameters that we as a voice teacher consider when choosing a song for our students.
Choosing the right songs for your vocal development is not always a simple process, but the voice teachers at SWVS are trained to offer advice and guidance. Feel free to book a lesson today to find out what songs suit you!