For many singing styles, learning how to sing harmony lines adds an amazing sense of depth and spice. But if you’re used to singing the melody, sometimes recognizing – and sustaining – the harmonies can take some practice. Here are a few tips to help you improve your technique:
1. Learn and memorize intervals.
Training your ear to quickly recognize intervals is a great first step to learning how to sing harmony. An easy way to do this is to think about specific songs that represent each interval; for example, the first two notes of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is an octave jump. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” presents a perfect fifth. And “Amazing Grace” is a perfect fourth. Take some time to run through each interval until you can identify each.
2. Brush up on other aspects of music theory.
Developing your ear overall – not just with interval practice – is imperative. Perfecting the harmony line is mostly intuitive, but that intuition can be bolstered by a strong knowledge of music theory. Ask your voice teacher to help you brush up on the basics of theory, or sign up for additional music theory lessons. Practice matching pitches, writing out chords on blank staff paper, and singing scales.
3. Research the best, and sing along!
The more you practice, the easier singing the harmony line will be! As you’re listening to music for fun, try singing along, and experiment with different variations and notes. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Listen to everything you can, and pick out the melody, harmony, intervals and chords that stand out.
Many artists are known for using strong harmonies in their music – listen to the Dixie Chicks, Queen and the Beach Boys for some great examples. Before long, you’ll be impressing your friends and family with your ability to add depth and color to any song you hear!
Photo by Fool Moon acapella band