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Basics of Singing: How to Learn a Song

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Basics of Singing: How to Learn a Song

When you are just starting out to learn to sing and improving your singing basics, learning the songs you love is an amazing way to go about it. When you learn to sing a new song, you can also get an understanding about the techniques of song writing and get a feel for the song lyrics. When you connect with the lyrics, you will learn to sing the song well.

With the challenge of learning a new song, comes learning new pitches or learning new scales that come along with the song. A new some comes with new ways of articulating your vowels and words. All these basic singing techniques will help you improve your singing basics.

These are a few tips you can incorporate as you hone your singing basics and learn to sing a new song. With these you will be able to learn a new song faster.

1) Listen to other singers sing to improve your singing basics

The first tip is to see how different singers have approached the same some. You can do a simple search on YouTube to check out different renditions of the same song often by several accomplished singers. After this groundwork, you will be in a better position to understand how you would like to approach the new song you are learning to sing to improve your singing basics.

2) Choose a Key that you will use to sing the song

Now that you have some inspiration from the best singers out there, the next step is to find the key that you will be singing the song in. The best way is to sing with the original song you want to learn to sing. When you sing, pay attention to the highest pitch and the lowest pitch of the song. If these parts feel easy and they lie in your vocal range, you can begin learning the song. However, if it feels uncomfortable, you will need to adjust the key of the song you want to learn to sing, to a key that suits your voice.

Most beginners who are just starting out with their singing basics or want to learn to sing are tasked with finding their vocal range. A vocal range is nothing but a term that denotes the measure of pitches you can sing from your highest note to your lowest notes. You can do a simple search for musical scales and sing along with them. Identify which are the notes at the bottom and at the top that are difficult for you to sing clearly.

The highest note that you can hold for 3 seconds or more at a comfortable volume is the top of your range. The lowest note you can sing comfortably is the bottom of your vocal range.

3) Break It Down the song you want to learn to sing

Now that you have identified the key you will be singing the song you want to learn to sing in, it’s time to begin learning to sing. The best way to do this is to take a print out of the lyrics of the song and keep it handy with you.

Now you need to break the song into different sections like the verse, chorus, bridge etc. This will give you a perspective of the entire song.

Start singing through the song and you may notice some change in the tempo of the song. There maybe some changes in the pitch or the scale which maybe new to you. This is when you should break the song done into smaller sections and pay attention to practising the parts that are different and new to you. You may want to brush up on a few singing basics as you come across parts that are difficult or too technical for you.

4) Match the pitch of the song you want to learn to sing especially in the difficult parts

A simple method to learn to sing is to “match pitch”. This is just a simple way of saying that you sing the same note that you are hearing. This is what helps some singers sing the song in the right note.

If you have a problem hitting these notes while you attempt to sing them, this is the area you need to focus on. You need to be able to connect your ears to your voice and pay attention to how you sounf hen you sing.

Listening to yourself sing

If you’ve had trouble singing in tune or hitting the right notes when you sing, or somebody has made a comment about you having bad pitching or poor tuning, this is most likely the skill you need to focus on.

Learning this skill is about connecting your ears with your voice. There’s a sort of “feedback loop” that you need to practice, where you sing a note, hear whether that note is at the right target pitch or not, and then adjust accordingly. feedback-loop-between-ears-and-voice

You can also learn to match pitch with a digital tuner. This is a simple way to practice hitting the right note and singing with good pitching. If you have a digital tuner for your instrument (e.g. a guitar tuner) you can use that, otherwise you can use an online tuner. This will help you learn to sing the song faster with instant feedback about the song you are learning to sing.

The idea is that like tuning an instrument, you learn to tune your voice. Most digital tuners allow you to play the target note, but if not, you’ll also want to have an instrument handy to play the note you’re aiming for. Then you simply use the digital tuner’s display to help develop your “feedback loop”. It provides a visual way to know whether you’re singing too high or too low.

Set the tuner to your target note (e.g. A).

Choose a note in your comfortable singing range.

  • Listen to the tuner play the note. It will probably be a very simple ongoing “tone” or electronic beep. Alternatively play the target note on your instrument. You might like to try humming along with the sound.

  • Hear the note in your head. This skill of imagining music in your head is called “audiation” is powerful for singing: it connects hearing music with singing it. You hear, then you imagine hearing, then you sing.

  • Sing the note. While you sing, watch the tuner to see if your pitch is too high or too low. Gradually adjust your pitch until you hit the target note.

The key to this exercise is to make sure you are listening carefully as you practice. Don’t just rely on the tuner’s display. Try to always hear whether you are too high or too low before checking the display. That way you are gradually developing your own inner tuner so that in future your feedback loop can work directly without the assistance of a digital tuner.

This will also help you improve your voice control and give you mastery over your singing basics.

5. Memorizing the song you want to learn to sing

It’s not totally necessary to memorize the song you are learning to sing but it can give you a freedom with the song to explore more and I recommend that you try to memorize the song if you can.

The biggest helpful thing to do when you’re trying to memorize the chords if you didn’t develop a muscle memory as you were learning the song is to look over the song and notice the patterns. There’s often patterns in the chord progressions and overall form and if you look at it and create a mental map of the song you may be a lot further along in your memorization then you think.

The best thing for learning and memorizing lyrics is to read them out loud and handwrite or type them out. It’s also good to think about the story you’re telling or what you’re really singing about. See if you can connect with them more deeply by imparting your own meaning to the song and if that helps you memorize the lyric.

6) Record yourself singing the song

Record your performance, then summon some courage and listen back.

Without a doubt, you’ll find parts you weren’t happy with. Don’t criticise yourself for this! Every negative thing you notice is an opportunity to improve. Like when you found out you weren’t tone deaf, this just shows that you have the awareness you need to be able to improve. Exciting!

So, try it again. And again. You might find it helps to jot down notes on a copy of the lyrics to remind yourself of your advice and the areas for improvement.

Here’s an extra tip: don’t throw the recordings away! Save each one, putting the song name and today’s date in the filename. Then, after a few days of practicing a song, come back and listen to one of your earlier performances. You’ll most likely be able to hear a big improvement and that will encourage you to keep at it.

Eventually you’ll feel you’ve got the hang of the song. You can no longer spot pitching issues or performance weaknesses.

7) Continued Learning and Consistency

Keep at it. If you practice a little every day and regularly add new songs to your repertoire you will only get better and notice that you can learn covers even faster as you learn more song singing techniques. Try to set small goals for your practice, learning a new song every month – whatever makes sense to you. With consistent small steps you’ll be surprised with how much you’ll learn and the songs you’ll be able to master!

Be sure to get a good teacher if you're serious about developing your skills. Voice coaches will be able to give you really good feedback in real time, as well as tips and tricks. They will set a schedule for you and help you meet goals that you set for yourself. A vocals coach is essential for anyone who wants to seriously become a singer.

Happy Singing!

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