How to sing better (almost) instantly

Video: How to Sing Better (Almost) Instantly | Singing Tips

Want to sing better… almost instantly? Learn to be a great singer — fast! — with these tips from voice teacher Arlys A.:

Video Recap – How to Sing Better (Almost) Instantly

There are two foundations of singing you should know if you want to become a better singer! Can you guess what they are?

(1) Posture

Make sure you’re not slouching! Your body is your instrument, so keep an eye on how you’re holding it! Stretching and physical activity can also help you loosen up.

Additional Resources About Posture:

(2) Breath

Once you’ve situated yourself, focus on your breathing. Avoid shallow breathing — you should feel your ribcage open as you breathe in. This will instantly change your sound for the better!

Additional Resources About Breathing for Singers:

Want to learn more? Check out our live, online singing classes taught by Arlys and other awesome singing teachers!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

30 More Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings

30 MORE Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings | Love Songs

30 MORE Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings

As a wedding singer, choosing a song that represents the couple and their love story can feel like a lot of pressure! As you’re working with the bride and groom, here are some ideas from voice teacher Molly R. for choosing the perfect song to sing…

 

Love is in the air! Before you know it, June will be here — the busiest month of all for weddings.

If you’re a singer, you might already know how fun (and let’s face it: lucrative!) it can be if you offer wedding gigs.

Sometimes, the happy couple knows exactly what they want as far as the song goes. But often, they are certainly open to suggestions from the professional!

Before you decide which songs to sing at a wedding, think about the following:

1. Consider the couple.

If the bridge and groom are young and hip, a Josh Groban song might not fly! Likewise, if it’s an older couple, they may want an old standard. If you know the couple personally, you might already know what kind of music they like. Browse through my recommendations below and offer them a couple of ideas to go from.

2. Consider the ceremony.

Another important thing to consider is whether the event is super formal, or more casual. A beautiful classical song is ideal for a formal wedding in a church, but you may want a more current love song for a backyard wedding with a more laidback vibe.

3. Consider your own strengths.

The final thing to consider is… YOU! When selecting any song, you have to think about your voice type, vocal ability, and styles that you sing comfortably in. A Handel aria would be out of some pop singers’ ability, and likewise, an opera singer may sound completely awkward singing the Beatles.

Now that you’ve put some thought into it, take a look at my recommendations below. There’s a lot more where these came from, so just use these as a starting point!

Traditional/Classical Songs to Sing at a Wedding

1. “Let the Bright Seraphim” – Handel

2. “Panis Angelicus” – César Franck
3. “Ave Maria” – Bach/Gounod
4. “Bist du bei mir” (If you are with me) – Bach
5. “Irish Wedding Song” (Traditional)
6. “Ich Liebe Dich” (I Love You) – Beethoven
7. “You Raise Me Up” – Josh Groban

Pop Songs (Old and New) to Sing at a Wedding

1. “We’ve Only Just Begun” – The Carpenters

2. “At Last” – Etta James
3. “Just the Way You Are”- Billy Joel
4. “I Can’t Wait” – Ben LaRue
5. “All of Me”- John Legend
6. “Could I Have This Dance” – Anne Murray
7. “Here and Now” – Luther Vandross
8. “Here, There and Everywhere” – The Beatles
9. “Thinking Out Loud”- Ed Sheeran
10. “From This Moment On” – Shania Twain

Broadway and Movie Songs for Weddings

1. “Sunrise, Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof”

2. “Someone Like You” from “Jekyll and Hyde”
3. “Till There Was You” from “The Music Man”
4. “One Hand, One Heart” from “West Side Story”
5. “A Thousand Years” – Sung by Christina Perri, from “Twilight”
6. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Elvis Presley, from “Blue Hawaii”
7. “Evergreen”- Barbra Streisand, from “A Star is Born”
8. “There You’ll Be” – Faith Hill, from “Pearl Harbor”

Duets to Sing at Weddings

1. “Endless Love” – Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

2. “It’s Your Love” – Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
3. “The Closer I Get to You” – Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway
4. “E Più Ti Penso” (The More I Think of You) – Andrea Bocelli and Ariana Grande
5. “Lucky” – Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

If you’re having a hard time deciding on a song, check in with your voice teacher. Brainstorm together, keeping your vocal strengths in mind, to really come up with something that’ll impress the bridge and groom! Your teacher can also help you prepare for the big event so you feel confident.

Most of all, have fun with it! Weddings are beautiful, and it’s such a great feeling knowing you’re contributing to the experience of both the bridal party and the guests. Enjoy it!

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Photo by Krystian Olszanski (with text overlay)

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

MO - 50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens (7)

50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

MO - 50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

As a teen, it’s important to choose an audition song that not only shows off your voice, but is age-appropriate! Here, voice teacher Molly R. shares a few tips for selecting your song, plus 50 top picks for musical theater audition songs for teens (both girls and guys!)…

 

It’s wonderful to be a teen musical theater performer! There are so many great opportunities for this age: high school productions, community theater, and even professional theater for a lucky few.

But it’s not always easy to select the perfect musical theater audition song. In this post, I’ve listed my recommendations for audition songs for boys and girls, but you’ll also want to keep a couple of things in mind…

1) What is the production staff looking for?

If they say “don’t sing from the show,” then don’t! However, you DO want to find something as close as possible to the show in question.

For example, is the company doing an edgier show, like “Rent”? Then you may want to sing an audition song from a show like “Spring Awakening” or even “Hair”. If they’re doing an older classic like “Carousel”, consider something else by Rodgers and Hammerstein (like “South Pacific”), or something from the same era, like “My Fair Lady”.

2) What audition song suits YOU?

What is your type? Are you more of the leading man? The sweet ingenue? Maybe you’re a sassy belter, or a character actor.

The good news is that there is a huge variety of songs that are appropriate (and great fun!) for teen musical theater performers. This list cindlues songs for all types of voices and personalities, with several different styles and time periods for both genders. While many of these songs and tried-and-true classics, many are lesser-known and will delight your audition panel.

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Girls

1. “Frank Mills” — Hair

2. “I’m Not At All In Love” — The Pajama Game
3. “Think of Me” — Phantom of the Opera
4. “Beautiful Candy” — Carnival
5. “Mama Who Bore Me” — Spring Awakening
6. “Once Upon a Dream” — Jekyll and Hyde

7. “How Can I Wait?” — Paint Your Wagon
8. “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” — My Fair Lady
9. “Don’t Rain On My Parade” — Funny Girl
10. “Tryouts” — Bring It On: The Musical
11. “My Big French Boyfriend” — The Toxic Avenger
12. “Love Makes Such Fools of Us All” — Barnum
13. “A Wonderful Guy” — South Pacific
14. “Sing Happy” — Flora the Red Menace

15. “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” — Camelot
16. “Astonishing” — Little Women
17. “Live Out Loud” — A Little Princess
18. “So In Love” — Kiss Me Kate
19. “Heaven Help My Heart” — Chess
20. “Out of My Dreams” — Oklahoma!
21. “Still Hurting” — The Last Five Years
22. “The Finer Things” — Jane Eyre: The Musical

23. “Once Upon a Time” — Brooklyn: The Musical
24. “Once You Lose Your Heart” — Me and My Girl
25. “Waitin’ for My Dearie” — Brigadoon

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Boys

1. “Ten Minutes Ago” — Cinderella

2. “This is the Moment” — Jekyll and Hyde
3. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” — Les Misérables
4. “I Believe” — The Book of Mormon
5. “One Song Glory” — Rent
6. “Where Do I Go?” — Hair
7. “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” — Guys and Dolls
8. “I, Huckleberry, Me” — Big River
9. “Proud of Your Boy” — Aladdin

10. “Her Face” — Carnival
11. “It’s All Right With Me” — Can-Can
12. “Fallin’” — They’re Playing Our Song
13. “On the Street Where You Live” — My Fair Lady
14. “Sarah” — The Civil War
15. “I’m a Bad, Bad Man” — Annie Get Your Gun
16. “Real Live Girl” — Little Me

17. “Anthem” — Chess
18. “Love, I Hear” — A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
19. “Momma, Look Sharp” — 1776
20. “Love Changes Everything” — Aspects of Love
21. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” — Oklahoma!

22. “Me” — Beauty and the Beast
23. “Passeggiata” — The Light in the Piazza
24. “Make Them Hear You” — Ragtime
25. “Santa Fe” — Newsies”

Final Tips for Your Audition

I recommend being prepared with a few solid songs, as you never know if they’ll ask for more! Your repertoire book should have a variety of audition songs that include shows old and new, a song from a pop/rock musical, and at least one Disney song that suits you. And of course, make sure that you’ve had adequate time to practice and prepare before the audition!

If you’re confused about what to select and how to sing it, your best source is your voice teacher, who is bound to have lots of helpful ideas. Feeling nervous? Reserve your spot for TakeLessons’ live, online class about singing with confidence!

Have fun exploring the world of musical theater repertoire. And break a leg!

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Photo by TED Conference (with text overlay)

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

MO - 6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

MO - 6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

Improve your technique (and your next performance) by working on diction! In this article, singing teacher Liz T. shares some great exercises to try out…

 

Imagine you’re at a concert, and your favorite artist gets up on stage to sing. You recognize a popular song from her album starting, but when she opens her mouth… you can’t decipher any of the lyrics.

As a singer, paying attention to diction — that is, the way you enunciate your words — can make a big impact on your performance. It’s a crucial part of connecting with your audience and even having proper vocal health!

If you struggle with you diction when you sing, though, don’t be ashamed. It is truly something all singers struggle with! It doesn’t mean you are a bad singer… but the better diction you have, the more your audience will be able to enjoy and appreciate your performance.

There are tons of diction exercises you can try, which will help you train yourself. Start adding these to your practice sessions, and you’ll notice a difference!

1) Practice Tongue Twisters

Try speaking your favorite tongue twisters first, and then try singing them! I recommend focusing on ones with letters or syllables that are more difficult for you. Start slow, and then work up to a faster speed. Really make sure you are articulating each sound. You can also try speaking or singing the alphabet to get the shapes ingrained in your muscle memory.

Here are a few tongue twisters that are great for improving your diction:

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Red leather, yellow leather.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • Who washed Washington’s white woolen underwear, as Washington’s washer woman went West.
  • Mommy made me mash my M&Ms.

2) Study Phonetics (IPA)

For this exercise, take a look at the song you’re currently working on, and break down each word in the lyrics. Break apart the vowels, consonants, and diphthongs. Feel free to write in your score, if you need to spell a word differently for it to make sense in your singing.

Many singers refer to the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) when singing. This is a system derived from Latin that is used today as a standardized representation of sounds. It’s a great tool for singers to use and study!

3) Practice Vowels

Take some time focusing on each of the vowels: ah, ay, ee, oh, and oo. Add a consonant at the beginning (such as “mah, may, me…”) and sing through the list, making sure each one is clear.

4) Practice Consonants

Next, focus on consonants, like D, T, and N. Practice speaking the different sounds, repeating each a few times.

5) Do Some Lip Buzz/Trill

Warm up your lips, tongue, and teeth with simple lip buzzes and tongue trills.

6) Incorporate Breath Support

Pick one of the tongue twisters above, and practice saying it all in one breath.

Now that you’ve read the descriptions of the diction exercises, here’s a video you can follow along with:

Whether you are performing live on stage (using a microphone or not) or singing in a studio, you should always use clear and accurate diction! And if you’re struggling, remember that clear diction may not happen overnight. Keep practicing these diction exercises, and work with your voice teacher to improve your technique. Good luck!

 

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

physical activity to strengthen your voice

Will Cardio & Physical Activity Make You a Better Singer? [Video]

cardio to strengthen your singing voice

Can doing physical exercise and cardio help you become a better singer? The answer is yes! Learn how to strengthen your singing voice and which activities are best in this article by voice teacher Rebecca R

Imagine this scenario: you’ve signed up to run your first marathon. Maybe you ran cross-country back in high school and have kept up with running as a regular form of exercise. Because of this, you don’t use a training plan, and instead continue your normal exercise routine. When the day of the marathon arrives, though, you struggle to complete the entire course and end up injured. You’d probably feel like your body betrayed you, right?

While this scenario is a VERY exaggerated circumstance, it gets the point across: in order to accomplish a physical goal in the healthiest way possible, a certain amount of body awareness and training is required.

And although it doesn’t demand nearly the same endurance training as running a marathon, singing is a very physical activity. While just two tiny muscles are responsible for forming the sound of your singing voice (your vocal cords), the act of singing is a whole-body experience.

So, what’s the proper way to train? Adding physical activity to your musical practice to develop stamina and strengthen your singing voice is a great idea. Here’s how it can help you sing better:

1. Your body is your instrument.

In nearly every introductory voice lesson I teach, the student is always surprised by how physically demanding the lesson is. Often, he or she feels like they just went on a jog. That is exactly how any student should feel after a voice lesson!

When you sing to the best of your ability, you are using your entire body. Your feet ground you, your legs support you, and your torso expands and works to provide the breath support needed to fuel your singing. Even if you’re sitting in a chair, leaning against a piano, or laying on the ground, you are using more than just your throat and head to sing.

If learning how to strengthen your singing voice is a goal for you, the first step is to map out body awareness. Ask yourself the following questions the next time you sing:

  1. Which muscles are engaging when I breathe? When I’m singing a phrase of music?
  2. What do my feet feel like under me? Can they feel the ground?
  3. Where do I feel my torso expand when I inhale? In the front? On the sides? In the back?
  4. Am I holding any unnecessary tension in the body? Maybe in the shoulders or the jaw?

2. Breath, breath, and more breath!

Lung expansion is a saving grace for any singer. For most circumstances in everyday life, we inhale and exhale subconsciously without needing to actively engage our lungs. When we sing, however, we use up to 90% of our lung capacity depending on the range, style, and length of the song.

Unless you also happen to be an athlete, chances are you don’t perform many activities throughout the day that require a lot of conscious breathing. Enter cardio exercises: jogging, running, swimming, circuit training, you name it! All of these forms of exercise, in addition to their overall health benefits, will improve lung expansion, which helps you access more of your lung capacity and fuel your voice through any practice session, lesson, or performance. Good breath support gained through cardio exercise is what ultimately will provide the stamina to sing safely for hours, days, and years.

Editor’s Note: For more breathing exercises, join our next live, online class! View the schedule and reserve your spot here.

3. The Importance of Posture

While having good posture may seem obvious, I don’t think most singers realize that posture is something that needs to be worked on and strengthened regularly. Just like training the lungs with cardio, we need to strengthen our body to support good, natural posture while releasing tight muscles.

Yoga or pilates will accomplish both of these goals, along with added mental benefits! By strengthening your instrument (your body) and loosening up tight muscles, you will sing more freely and with more ease. As an added bonus,you’ll be able to warm up your voice much more quickly if your body is already warmed up!

Here’s a quick little trick for when you need help setting up your posture: Inhale fully and deeply without raising your shoulders or tightening your neck. Then, as you exhale, imagine your spine growing longer in both directions, up out of the top of your head and down toward the ground simultaneously.

How Much Physical Activity Do I Need to Sing at My Best?

While the minutes spent and intensity of all physical activity will vary from person to person, here’s a basic schedule you may want to follow:

  • 3 times/week: Cardio should be reserved for long vocal practice days. On cardio days, I’ve found that my lung capacity is at its best, and the energy I feel after cardio helps fuel long practice sessions. To get all the benefits of the cardio when you sing, try to fit it in before you practice.
  • 2 times/week: Yoga or pilates is reserved for my non-practice/non-performance days. Yoga classes that are lengthy and provide a hearty workout (such as Vinyasa or power yoga), as well as pilates classes, build strength and flexibility, which can leave the body sore and in need of some recovery. It’s best to avoid activity that might add temporary tension or tightness on singing days — or save the workout for after your singing.
  • Every day: Gentle yoga and stretching can be done anytime and is highly encouraged, particularly before you sing. I always reserve time for some gentle yoga on performance days, audition days, or long rehearsal days — the gentle stretch not only allows my mind and body to calm down and feel grounded but also makes warming up vocally easier and quicker.

Give it a Try…

Follow along with the video below for a quick stretching sequence you can start using today.

Singers, what kinds of physical activity do you engage in? Leave a comment below and let us know how it’s helped!

RebeccaRPost Author: Rebecca R.
Rebecca R. teaches singing, piano, and music theory in Ridgewood, NY, as well as online. She teaches students ages 6 and up, and a variety of experience levels. Learn more about Rebecca here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

So your son or daughter has just started music lessons. You’ve found a kind, knowledgeable teacher, set up a practice space, and bought an instrument.

There comes a point in time, however, when your son or daughter simply doesn’t feel like practicing.

To help you avoid endless fights and keep you from pulling your hair out, we’ve put together this collection of strategies from music teachers, bloggers, and child psychologists to help you motivate your child to practice.


Treat Music Like a Different Subject

Think back to when you were in school. You had your academic classes and your after-school activities. You knew your daily routine: Math, English, Science, etc. Then after school: piles of endless homework!

With so many different subjects, it’s no wonder adding time to practice music can seem like a burden to a kid. That’s where you come in — you can help shift your child’s mindset!

Rather than treating music like any other subject, create a distinction so your child sees music as something he or she wants to do. The best way to shift your child’s mindset is to let him or her play an instrument they’re actually interested in.

“If you want your child to be motivated to play an instrument, music needs to be different than other educational subjects,” says Bobby K. from Guitar Chalk. “Your child shouldn’t see music as a forced discipline, like Math or Geography. This ultimately comes down to choosing the right instrument, which is going to be the one the child is excited about and wants to play on his or her own.

“For me, that was the guitar, which had me practicing (voluntarily) three to four hours a day at 11 years old. That couldn’t have happened with piano because piano wasn’t “my” instrument. It was just another subject. But guitar was different in that it felt like play, not school work. Getting your child into a similar situation, where their instrument doesn’t feel like just another school subject, is absolutely critical. If it’s not happening, that might be a signal that it’s time to switch instruments.”

This also means you may need to be flexible. While it can be expensive to allow a child to start and stop several different activities, try to work with him or her to find one he or she enjoys and is intrinsically motivated to practice.


Put Your Child in Control

It’s no secret that when we’re told to do something, we don’t always want to do it. During the course of a day, there are several different people (parents, teachers, older siblings, coaches) telling kids what to do. Add music to that list and it’s no wonder motivation seems to dwindle!

Combat this problem by putting your child in control. Let him or her determine the practice schedule, that way they’re more likely to stick to it.

“Kids hear adults tell them what to do all the time; to catch their attention, let them plan their own practice schedule,”  says Nicole Weiss, LCSW Psychotherapist and Coach. “Start with the end in mind. Basically, you want to get your child to make the decision that he or she needs to practice so that he or she can play the way he or she wants to play. After the decision is made, the parent can help the child research and figure out how often a good musician practices. The child then sets a schedule based on the reality that, to be good, one must practice.”

Not only will this allow your child to feel a sense of control, it will also help him or her to learn the value of practice.

“The child makes the schedule, then the parent reinforces it,” Weiss says. “I’m sure many parents reading this would say…’yeah but will they do that day to day?’ That’s where you come in — but you have more weight in your reminder. It was the child’s desire to make the goal. Additionally, the reward should be for accomplishing little goals. For example: ‘practice every night this week and we can download that song you want.’ Reward the work.”

More: Motivate Your Child to Practice With a Reward System


Help Your Child Understand the Gift of Music

Show your child that playing a musical instrument is a special privilege and an opportunity that isn’t necessarily available to everyone. Teach your child to appreciate music and all it has to offer. Help them discover that music can enhance their life.

“I believe that we’re here in this world to do great things with the gift of our lives, and we’re here to serve others,” says Heather F. from Music for Young Violinists. “Learning to play [the violin] helps us in both of these areas — we’re drawn up into a level of greatness through the discipline required to study this art form, and in this process, we cultivate a gift that we can share with others.”

This also includes helping your child develop a love for music. Take them to concerts or shows, play music at home, and help them discover what they like.

Many adults wish they had stuck with a hobby or endeavor they started as a child, like playing a musical instrument. While this can be a difficult concept for young kids to grasp, teaching them to appreciate music can help them understand why practice is important.

According to this article from MusicTeachersHelper on motivating students to practice, “…I can’t count how many times I’ve heard adults say to me, ‘I quit taking piano when I was young and it was such a mistake. I wish I could go back and take lessons again.’ Parents can help children know the value that musical talent brings to society.”


Don’t Make Practice an Obligation

This one may seem a bit counterintuitive, right? After all, you’ve invested the money in an instrument and lessons, and you want your child to make the most of it. Plus, if your son or daughter wants to be good, he or she needs to practice!

The key here is to not make practice seem like an obligation, as compared to other fun activities. For example, if your son or daughter loves to play video games or play outside, don’t allow him or her to do this until after completing practice.

Using a fun activity as a reward will create the mindset that practice is the obligation that stands in the way of the fun activity, and this could create resentment or dread for practice.

As Why We Teach Piano suggests, “Don’t set an arbitrary amount of practice time, without specific goals, and then reward them with playtime or video games afterwards. This just reinforces the notion that playing piano is not fun and video games are fun.”


Plan Performances

When it comes to any sport, hobby, or endeavor, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The same thing applies when it comes to your child learning an instrument; your son or daughter has to have a goal in sight, otherwise, he or she may question the need to practice.

“If you want to keep students engaged and excited about their music education, make sure they’re performing consistently throughout the year,” says Anthony M. founder and author of The Music Parents’ Guide. “There are other profound effects on more scheduled performances for all school programs, as well. We, as parents and teachers, need to foster a growing curiosity and even an excitement about music in our children’s lives. Consistent performances are the best way to do this and continue to motivate our children.”

Not only do performances help to increase excitement, they also work to hold children accountable. Ask any music teacher — even the most unmotivated student will be more likely to practice if it means avoiding embarrassment at a recital!


Let Your Child Choose

Just because you loved playing piano as a kid doesn’t mean your child will love playing just as much. Your child may have other interests, and it’s important to allow him or her to explore different endeavors.

“First of all, I think it’s critical that the child choose the instrument they’re going to learn,” says Matt T. from Unlock the Guitar. “I’m a guitarist, and I’d love nothing more than my son to be interested in learning guitar, but he’s undeniably drawn to the piano. Plus, if an instrument is thrust upon them, practicing it will also be thrust upon them. Letting the child choose the instrument turns this on its head, and into your favor, even if they didn’t choose the instrument you would have liked them to play.”


Be Their Cheerleader

Let your child know you’re his or her biggest fan, especially early on when your child may feel frustrated or discouraged.

Eighty-eight notes school of music suggests listening to your child at home as often as you can and making encouraging remarks about their progress. Also, make sure to ask them how their lessons went.

Take a genuine interest in your child’s musical journey. Your son or daughter will be excited to play for you and show off new skills!


Help Them Engage With Music

Your child is more likely to practice music if he or she feels connected to the process. Help your son or daughter develop an interest and curiosity for music.

To help your child stay engaged, become a part of the process. Whatever you can do to get involved is likely to increase their interest and motivation.

“Motivating your child by reward or punishment will stop working very quickly; instead, help your child get curious about music and develop an inner desire to engage with music,” says Jonas G., the founder of flowkey.”Let your child play around with different instruments. Listen to music and sing together. Your child will naturally want to imitate you, so a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents engage with music themselves.”


Create Challenges

Rather than telling your child to practice, help him or her set specific goals and challenges. This will help them progress faster because they’ll work on accomplishing specific tasks or mastering particular skills. This idea can be applied to any instrument.

Practiceopedia author and practice expert, Philip J., has a completely different take: “Don’t ask your kids to ‘practice’ — they won’t know what to do. Instead, give them bite-sized, clear challenges to complete: (1) Work out a fingering for measures 24-35 (2) Gradually speed up section B to 85bpm. (3) Be able to play the left hand of the coda from memory.”

Having trouble coming up with the right challenge? Check out Phillip’s website, thebootcampedition.com, for a huge collection.


Celebrate ALL Accomplishments

Learning to play an instrument is a long journey full of peaks, valleys, and plateaus. While you’ll definitely be proud when you watch your child perform, it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way.

While verbal praise is important, you may also want to create another way to celebrate achievements; familyshare recommends keeping a journal of your child’s accomplishments. When you put it in writing, you’re less likely to forget. If journaling isn’t your thing, you can keep a white board on the fridge, or make a chart that you can display in the house!

Celebrating the little victories will help your child keep a positive attitude when they’re struggling or having difficulty tackling a new concept or song.


Let Them Play Music They Like

While there are always certain signature songs and classics for various instruments, your child will lose interest if he or she doesn’t like the music they’re playing.

Work with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is playing some music they truly enjoy.

According to the Academy of Music and Dance, “As children get to be around 10 years old, sometimes younger, they start to develop preferences for musical style, largely influenced by radio, TV, and whatever they’re most exposed to at home. They will also typically gravitate to whatever their friends are listening to, especially for boys at around age 13 and girls around age 11.”

Use this as a motivational strategy; allow your son or daughter to play at least one familiar song as part of their weekly routine.


Make Practice Fun

This should come as no surprise — no one wants to practice when it’s boring! Incorporate fun games, activities, and challenges, and your child will look forward to practice!

According to PianoDiscoveries, “appropriate goals and positive reinforcement will make practicing fun and rewarding. Very few children are self-motivated in their practice. Most need incentives and reminders to keep them focused and moving forward.”

Ask your child’s music teacher for some creative ways to make practice more fun!


Find the Right Teacher

This brings us to our last strategy and one of the most important: find the right teacher! Although practice is done outside of lessons, if your child connects with his or her teacher, they’re much more likely to practice on their own time.

According to Music Central,”…finding the right teacher will make or break the whole experience. Don’t be afraid to try a new teacher if your child isn’t connecting. The best teachers are usually the ones who not only teach, but know how to be a good friend and mentor to your child.”

Find a teacher who understands your child’s learning style, and a person who’s able to teach concepts in a way that keeps your child interested. When your son or daughter likes his or her teacher, they’ll be more willing to take direction and practice consistently.

how to motivate your child

Share this Image On Your Site

Which of these strategies have been successful for you? Do you have other methods that you use to motivate your child? Let us know in the comments below!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Digital Sheet Music, iPad Apps, and More (2)

Digital Sheet Music & iPad Apps: Should You Make the Switch?

Digital Sheet Music, iPad Apps, and More (1)Feeling overwhelmed by pages and pages of sheet music? If you’re tech-savvy, you might want to consider switching to an all-digital library. Here, Elaina R. reviews the pros and cons of using digital sheet music, the best sheet music apps, and how to make the switch…

 

I recently purchased a tablet. I didn’t buy this tablet for scrolling through Instagram or catching up on TV shows, though. I purchased it to replace my bloated, disorganized music folder.

That’s right – I now almost exclusively use digital sheet music. At rehearsals these days I’m holding my tablet, not a binder. And I am so glad I made the switch!

If you already have a tablet (or are thinking about purchasing one), you could switch over to digital sheet music too. Digital sheet music for singers — that you download onto your iPad or other tablet device — alleviates many of the issues involved with using physical copies and can make for a happier, more organized musician (like me)! Here are the pros and cons of making the switch – and what you will need if you decide to do it.

Digital sheet music pros


Less Stuff, More Music

I finally snapped because of a paper mess that’s been brewing in my studio for years. I have reams of old photocopies, opera scores, song books, and oratorio scores lining my shelves. The books are nice, but if you only need to sing one piece it’s annoying to lug a whole book around. The binders of photocopies have become progressively more unwieldy in the last decade. They are now so big that I dread having to take them out.

On top of all that, as a full-time professional singer, I go through an insane amount of music. My everyday binder, which contained all of the music I was working on, exploded all over my bag at least once a day. My house was buried in stacks of photocopies and scores. The situation was bad for the environment, bad for my back, and bad for my sanity. Finally, after losing an important tax document in a gigantic pile of sheet music, I realized that something had to change.

Now, all of my music fits into my slim tablet. I have way more music with me than I could possibly carry around in hard-copy format, and it’s neatly organized and easily accessible.

You Can’t Lose Things

Back to the tax document. When you’re handling large volumes of sheet music, it takes a lot of patience and time to organize it. If you fall behind in your organization, you start to lose music — sometimes music that you desperately need! With a tablet, that possibility is mitigated (much to my relief).

It’s Environmentally Friendly

In the old days, I felt a twinge of guilt every time I had to print a new piece of music. Now I have all of the music I need without using a single sheet of paper. This is particularly helpful if you are part of a singing group, like I am. When I switched over to digital sheet music, four of my five co-workers did the same thing. We are killing far fewer trees these days!

digital sheet music cons


Technical Difficulties 

Change requires a learning curve, and switching to digital sheet music is no exception. Since I bought my tablet expressly as a music reader, I had to learn how to use it while I acquainted myself with the sheet music app I use. There’s still a lot I don’t know about it, and I had to look up instructions for a few of the trickier functions.

However, overall there were no major hurdles… except one. For some reason, trying to import documents from Google Drive to the app causes my tablet to crash. It’s bizarre, but luckily there are many other ways I can import music into the program.

Also, when using a tablet to read music, you need to keep that tablet charged. I got pretty freaked out when I realized that one of my co-workers had 17% battery during a performance the other day. If you are good about keeping your smartphone charged, I’m sure you won’t have a problem remembering to charge your tablet.

Writing On Music

One of the concerns I had about using digital vocal sheet music was maintaining the ability to write on the music. When I use old-fashioned paper, I spend rehearsals scribbling notes all over the pages. The process of writing on digital music is a little more complex. Writing freehand with a finger or stylus takes incredible dexterity (which I do not possess). However, highlighting is easy, and typing instructions onto the music looks cleaner than handwriting ever could.

Staying Uniform in Performance

I sometimes have to perform works that are not memorized. In these cases, singers are usually expected to use a uniform black folder. I usually just put my tablet into one of these folders, which, while annoying, is not insufferable. I’m still on the lookout for a tablet case that has a completely black, finished inside flap – I think that would look enough like a black folder to be acceptable. If you see one, let me know!

how to get sheet music on ipad


Do the pros outweigh the cons for you? Great! Here’s what you’ll need to make the jump to digital music.

Tablet

First and foremost, you’ll need a tablet. If you already have one lying around, you’re in luck. If not, don’t feel obligated to buy a $400 model; just make sure the screen is large enough for you to read music comfortably. I got my RCA Viking Pro, which has a 10.1-inch screen, on sale for $80.

Digital Music Library / Sheet Music App

Then, you’ll need a sheet music app to organize, edit, and view your music. You can create setlists, highlight, add notes, and much more.

FAQ: What are the best sheet music apps for iPads and Android tablets?

If you have an iPad, I recommend forScore ($9.99). Got an Android like me? Get MobileSheets Pro ($12.99).

Other options for sheet music readers apps are:

Smartphone Scanner

A smartphone scanner comes in handy when you have a hard copy that you need to import into your digital music library.

FAQ: How do I put sheet music on my iPad?

All you have to do is take pictures of your sheet music with your scanner app; the app adjusts the white balance to make it look like a photocopy. I use TinyScanner, which is free for both iOS and Android.

Where to Find Digital Sheet Music for Singers

If you need new music, you can avoid hard copies entirely by downloading digital versions. Here are the top three websites I use to get my digital copies, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.

  • IMSLP: This website has tons of public domain (classical) available for download, all for free.
  • SheetMusicPlus: SheetMusicPlus sells digital copies of music ranging from pop to classical.
  • MusicNotes: This site is similar to SheetMusicPlus, with lots of genres available for digital download.

You can also download digital copies directly from music publishers such as Hal Leonard, Alfred Music, and J.W. Pepper.

Conclusion


Even if your house isn’t full of crumpled sheet music, you may still benefit from switching to digital music. It’s cleaner, easier, lighter, and better for the environment. Plus, your voice teacher will love that you are so organized (and that you never forget to bring your music to lessons)! If you already have a tablet, I encourage you to download a digital music reader and give it a shot. We live in a digital world, and you may find that digital music is perfect for you.

Post Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ypsilanti, MI, as well as through online lessons. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

best graduation songs

30 MORE Awesome Graduation Songs to Sing Along With

best graduation songs

If you’re taking the stage to perform at your upcoming graduation ceremony, you’ll want to pick a great song to sing! Continue reading for 30 good graduation songs to check out, recommended by voice teacher Molly R...

 

Spring has sprung! And one of the things many of us attend in late Spring is a graduation ceremony or two (or more, if you’re super social!).

If you’re a singer, you may even be asked to perform at a graduation ceremony or party. And the toughest part isn’t getting up there on stage — it’s choosing what to perform for the audience! So, how do you choose the best graduation song to sing? Here are my tips:

  1. Consider your audience. Is it at a more formal institution? You want to select something more traditional, or even classic pop.  Are you performing at a friend’s party after the big ceremony? Well, maybe current pop may do the trick!
  2. Consider the message. Whether it’s formal or informal, you’ll want a song that inspires both grads and family! Some of the themes that work include lasting friendships, new beginnings, hope, and confidence.

To get you started, here is my list of 30 fantastic graduation songs that you may want to consider for 2016…

Traditional Songs

1. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel”

2. “Homeward Bound” by Marta Keen

3. “An Old Irish Blessing”

4. “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban

5. “The Prayer” by Josh Groban

6. “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha”

7. “Amigos Para Siempre” by Andrew Lloyd Webber

8. “Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

Newer Pop Songs (’90s to current )

1. “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars

2. “Brave” by Sara Bareilles

3. “Now and Forever” by Carole King

4. “You Were There” by Michael Jackson

5. “Firework”  by Katy Perry

6. “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot

7. “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors

8. “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

9. “Hero” by Mariah Carey

Classic Pop Songs (’80s and older)

1. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

2. “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass Elliot

3. “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston

4. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

5. “That’s What Friends Are For” by Burt Bacharach

6. “In My Life” by The Beatles

Broadway and Movies

1. “No Matter What” from “Whistle Down the Wind”

2. “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked”

3. “Any Dream Will Do” from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

4. “Dream For Your Inspiration”  by The Muppets

5. “Go the Distance” from Disney’s “Hercules”

6. “Our Time” from “Merrily We Roll Along”

7. “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Disney’s “Tarzan”


Final Tips for Singing at Graduation Events

Not only do you want to choose the right song, but you want to be sure you’re super prepared for your big performance. Your voice teacher can help you make sure that the song is suitable for your level and voice type, as well as help you polish it. No voice teacher? No problem! TakeLessons can help connect you for in-person or online voice lessons.

Break a leg!

Readers: Know any other good graduation songs to sing? Leave a comment with your suggestion!

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office

Free TakeLessons Resource

25 Top Audition Songs for Classical Singers 500x300

25 Top Audition Songs for Classical Singers [With Videos]

25 Top Audition Songs for Classical Singers 720x300

As a classical singer, you have a variety of things you might be auditioning for, from young artist programs (also known as YAPs) and vocal contests to gigs at restaurants or on cruise ships! There are a few things to consider for each situation, so here is a helpful list of tips, as well as the top classical audition songs for sopranos, tenors, mezzos, and baritones!

You can also jump ahead using these links:

For a Young Artist Program Audition:

It’s essential that every fach (operatic voice type) has a solid aria in English. Almost every program will ask for one, so below are some good repertoire options to consider.

For soprano:

  • “Laurie’s Song” from Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land”
    This is a beautiful aria to show off a young lyric soprano!

For mezzo:

  • “Must the Winter Come So Soon?” from Samuel Barber’s “Vanessa”
    This song is short, has a gorgeous line, and is age appropriate. This is exactly the sort of thing a singer needs for a Young Artist Program.

For tenor:

  • “Lonely House” from “Street Scene” by Kurt Weill
    This is another aria that is age appropriate. And for lyric tenors, this will show you off like nothing else, both vocally and dramatically.

For baritone:

  • “Warm as the Autumn Light” from Douglas Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe”
    This song has a soaring vocal line to show off your strong middle voice! At just under three minutes, this is another perfect choice for an audition song.

For Cruise Ships, Parties, or Restaurant Auditions:

For these types of auditions, you should consider the “party hits” of classical music! This can include some Italian folk songs that can be sung by any voice type. You’ll want to choose melodies that people that aren’t opera buffs know and love.

For soprano:

  • “Musetta’s Waltz” from Puccini’s “La Boheme”
    Everyone knows this one! It’s happy, super familiar, and shows off your killer high notes!

Another winner for a soprano is “O mio babbino caro” from another Puccini opera, “Gianni Schicchi”. All sopranos can sing this one. Just be careful not to drag the tempo; it’s actually meant to be a humorous aria!

For mezzo:

  • “Habanera” from “Carmen”
    You can’t go wrong with “Carmen”, and this one in particular is flirtatious and fun.

For tenor:

  • “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot”
    Yes, it’s the tenor anthem. But needless to say, you must have serious technique and power to make this one work. If you can nail this one, the job is likely yours!

If you want something a little more lighthearted but still a big hit, there is always Verdi’s “La donna e mobile” from “Rigoletto”. Everyone knows and adores this one!

For baritone:

  • “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”
    This is a great choice for a classical audition song if you want to draw in a non-opera crowd. Most people will recognize this one, and you can show off your amazing vocal agility and comedic chops.


Another hit from “Carmen” is the beloved “Toreador Song”. How can a baritone not have fun with this classic?

For any voice:

  • “O Sole Mio” (Italian standard)
    This cheerful folk tune is yet another song people know and love. It can be sung in various keys if you’re a mezzo or baritone.

Another great Italian folk song is “Funiculi Funicula”. Tenors especially will love this one because of the ringing high notes, but don’t let that hold you back if you’re another voice type!

For Vocal Competitions:

If you’re selecting classical audition songs for a vocal competition, I recommend repertoire in different languages besides the standard Italian, French, German, and English. This will be sure to impress the panel!

For soprano:

  • “Song to the Moon” from Dvořák’s “Rusalka”
    What a gorgeous aria! It’s magical when sung with a beautifully spun line.

For mezzo:

  • “Olga’s Aria” from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”
    This is a great choice to show off your charm, your low vocal range, and your Russian!

For tenor:

  • “Lensky’s Aria”, also from “Eugene Onegin”
    This is an absolutely breathtaking aria, with tons of drama and high notes galore. How can you go wrong?

For baritone:

  • “Forester’s Monologue” from Janacek’s “Cunning Little Vixen”
    This song is a bit longer, but what a gem! It’s hardly overdone, which makes it an excellent choice.

For an Opera Company Audition:

For an opera company audition, consider a piece that will prove you can act, too! Longer arias are definitely okay here.

For soprano:

  • “To This We’ve Come” from Menotti’s “The Consul”
    Wow, talk about an acting feast! This is high drama at its best, and is sure to impress!

For mezzo:

  • “The letters aria” from Massenet’s “Werther”
    If you can sing this beautifully and tug at our heartstrings, you’ve probably got the role!

For tenor:

  • “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s “Tosca”
    Full of passion, this is more than just about high notes.

For baritone:

  • “Pari Siamo” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto”
    Verdi was the king of Italian drama. This song, the tortured title character’s aria, is no exception.

For Undergraduate and Graduate Programs:

Make sure you have a Mozart aria! He’s the bread and butter of operatic repertoire, after all, and chances are your program will be doing one of his operas while you are there.

For soprano:

  • “Dove Sono” from “The Marriage of Figaro”
    This can be sung by both light- or heavy-voiced sopranos. This character, The Countess, has two fabulous arias, but “Dove Sono” has a bit more motion to it, and is awfully fun to sing.

For mezzo:

  • Dorabella’s aria from “Così fan tutte”
    This one sits a bit high and is best for lyric mezzos, but it’s a great one!

For tenor:

  • Tamino’s aria from “The Magic Flute”
    Mozart wrote some challenging arias for tenor! Mozart tenors need a light, lyric sound, and this aria is perfect for that kind of voice.

For baritone:

  • “The Catalog Aria” from “Don Giovanni”
    Not only will this one show off your excellent musicality, it’s also so funny!

There you have it — 25 excellent classical audition songs that will show you off, whether they’re tried and true hits or lesser-known gems.

Another great resource for repertoire recommendations is your voice teacher, of course! Don’t have one? No problem! There are so many wonderful voice teachers on Takelessons available to help, many with classical backgrounds. As you prepare for your vocal audition, working with a voice teacher will put you at a huge advantage.

Happy singing, and good luck at your audition!

 

 

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Photo by U.S. Army

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

How to Be a Better Singer... With One Overlooked Secret

How to Be a Better Singer… With One Overlooked Secret

How to Be a Better Singer... With One Overlooked Secret

Wondering how to be a better singer? There’s more to it than knowing how to use your voice. Read on as teacher Tony F. explains…

 

Do you love to sing? Is singing the first thing on your mind in the morning and the last thing at night? If you can answer yes to those questions, you might be what’s known as (cue the Star Wars theme music, maestro)… a singer.

Symptoms may include: rocking your head to a favorite song as you sing along while driving down the road… an unbalanced addiction to karaoke parties… or a tendency to sing along with songs you don’t even know, just because you can.

While there’s a lot to learn about keeping your voice healthy, developing your ear, and improving your pitch, here’s something you might not have thought about: your voice is actually all in your mind.

Here’s what I mean…

1. Your Mind’s Eye

Yep, you’ve got to see yourself singing. Imagine yourself singing five years from now. Can you see it? Good. Now imagine yourself singing 10 years from now. And 20 years. And maybe even 30 or 40 years from now. Can you see yourself with gray hair… singing like you did when you were young?

When you can see yourself, in your mind’s eye, singing confidently in front of a group of listeners, you’re one-third of the way to actually doing it. And don’t just see yourself singing… take it to the next level and see yourself in full control of a powerful and stylish voice. Are you starting to get a clear picture?

OK, now see yourself smiling. There’s sheer joy in singing when you keep yourself in the moment. See the troubles of the world fall at your feet. See your audience swept away in the moment with you. And see yourself floating weightless through every note, phrase, and inflection.

Practice this kind of visualization in your spare time and before every rehearsal or performance. Your voice will thank you.

2. Your Mind’s Ear

Can you hear music when no music is playing? I’m not asking if you can recall your favorite song and the way it sounds. I mean actual notes and scales. Can you hear those? You should be able to, if you quiet your mind and listen.

Set aside any distractions like your mobile device or your social accounts, and listen. Start by thinking of the first note in a scale. DO. Got it? Doesn’t matter if it’s a C or G or E. Just start with DO.

Now move up the scale past RE, MI, FA, SO, LA, TI, and all the way to DO. Listen closely. Do you hear the sound of each note in your own voice? If you can’t, you might need to find somewhere even more quiet and secluded. And you might need to practice focused listening.

Focused listening starts in your mind’s ear. When you can clearly hear notes in your head and in your voice, and when you combine hearing yourself sing with seeing yourself sing, you’re two-thirds of the way to actually doing it. But you’ve got one more area to deal with as you learn how to be a better singer.

3. Your Mind’s Voice

Most successful singers (or successful people in anything, really) will tell you they’ve had to battle a nagging, negative voice inside their head. Have you ever heard that little voice in your mind, the one that says “you can’t do it”?

Have you ever started to sing and thought, “What am I doing?” or “Who do I think I am?” If so, you’re not alone. But here’s what will set you apart and what will get you over that hurdle…

don’t be afraid to mess up. Tell that nagging voice in your mind who’s boss.

Remember, you’re in control of your thoughts. And if you’ve been practicing your visualization and listening techniques, you should be able to think thoughts like…

  • “I’m gonna sing the notes off this scale!”
  • “I can sing circles around this song!”
  • “I love singing so much, no one and nothing is gonna stop me!”

You can do it. Start right now. When you change the thoughts in your head, you’ll be well on your way to being a better singer!

TonyFPost Author: Tony F.
Tony F. teaches vocal training in Colorado Springs, CO, as well as through online lessons. With over 25 years of live performance experience, and has also written jingles for radio and websites. Learn more about Tony here!

Photo by WFIU Public Radio

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up