singing in the summer

Summer Bummer: 6 Warm-Weather Dangers for Singers

singing in the summer

Are you paying attention to your vocal health? The summer season presents some unique challenges when it comes to caring for your voice. Learn a few summer tips for singers in this guest post by vocal teacher Elaina R

 

Summer is in full-swing! The season of green grass, hot sun, pool parties, and BBQs is my favorite time of year. But as a singer, I also have to watch out for the special hazards that warmer weather brings.

While winter is definitely a singer’s roughest season (zero humidity and the flu are no fun), summer holds some unexpected dangers for your vocal cords. Check out my summer tips for singers below, and have a fantastic and vocally healthy summer!

1. Dehydration

Hotter weather often means sweat and more time outside, so you have to be extra careful to stay hydrated. Vocal cords are made out of the same soft, moist stuff as the inside of your cheek, and when they don’t get enough water, they become more brittle and susceptible to damage. So be sure to drink plenty of water, not just for your vocal cords, but for your whole body!

2. Allergies

Unfortunately, all of the living things that make summer so gorgeous — flowers, trees, grass — can also cause allergies. Allergy symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, congestion, and a bunch of other problems that inhibit breathing and irritate the throat.

One of these issues, post-nasal drip, is particularly damaging to singers because it involves mucus dripping from the sinuses onto the vocal cords, irritating and inflaming them. Many singers (myself included) use OTC medications, nasal sprays, and neti pots to deal with these problems.

3. Amusement Parks

Amusement parks can be lots of fun, but they also encourage lots of vocal abuse: loud talking, yelling, and, of course, SCREAMING on the roller coasters and other rides. Screaming involves slamming your vocal cords together rapidly, and as you might imagine, it isn’t good for you. If you’ve ever found yourself hoarse after visiting an amusement park, you know exactly what I mean.

Luckily, I have a sneaky trick that can completely eliminate vocal damage at amusement parks. When I ride roller coasters and other rides, I open my mouth — but I don’t actually make any noise. No one notices, I have just as much fun, and my voice feels great at the end of the day!

4. Smoke

I love BBQs and bonfires, but smoke can cause coughing, wheezing, and mucus buildup. Avoiding this one is easy — just sit downwind of bonfires, and be careful not to inhale too much smoke while BBQing. You can also volunteer to cut up the watermelon and leave the BBQ to someone else.

5. Concerts

Summer brings a wave of outdoor concerts and music festivals. While these events can be a blast, they often involve singing along (usually loudly and with bad technique) as well as yelling and screaming.

I bet you can guess my antidote for this one! Just like at amusement parks, I don’t actually make much noise at concerts. I mouth all the words and I look like I’m cheering along with everyone else, but I don’t actually use my voice. I have a great time AND my voice feels great the next day.

6. Air Conditioning

While summer air in many climates is nice and moist, air conditioning changes all that. Air conditioning removes moisture from the air, resulting in dry, wintery conditions. This can irritate the respiratory system and cause coughing just like winter air. Air conditioning and fans can also circulate dust, aggravating allergies.

To combat this, try not to crank up the air conditioning too much at home. If you spend a lot of time in a highly air-conditioned environment (like an office), you can protect yourself by staying hydrated and using cough drops or a personal humidifier if your throat feels dry.


By working these tips for singers into your day, you can enjoy summer to the fullest without harming your vocal cords. Your body and your voice teacher will both thank you. Now get out there and enjoy the weather!

Learn more about this topic:

Photo by Roger Blackwell

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!

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Video- how to not sing flat

Video: How to Not Sing Flat | Singing Tips

Singing on pitch take practice — and if you’re struggling with singing flat or singing sharp, you’re not alone! Even some famous singers have trouble hitting the notes perfectly at all times.

Fortunately, there are some great ear training exercises you can do to get better at recognizing when you’re off. Then, use the right vocal techniques to correct yourself.

In this video, singing teacher Arlys A. demonstrates how to recognize if you’re singing flat, and how to not sing flat once you notice it:

Video Recap: How to Not Sing Flat

  • Singing flat means you are singing below the correct pitch.
  • Use a tuner or a piano to check yourself!
  • Try sliding up to find a note until your pitch matches the correct note.
  • Having trouble? You’re not alone! Keep practicing intervals and individual notes in the song you’re working on.

Additional Resources for Improving Your Pitch

Want to learn more? Check out our live, online singing classes taught by professional singing teachers, or sign up for private voice lessons!

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Video- How to Do a Vocal Cool-Down (3)

Video: The Importance of a Vocal Cool-Down | Singing Tips

You probably already know all about vocal warm-up exercises… but do you know the importance of cooling DOWN your voice after singing? The “vocal cool-down” is a great way to end the night if you’ve been singing for a long time, such as at a performance or gig.

In this video, teacher Francisca M. demonstrates three easy exercises to try out…

Video Recap: How to Do a Vocal Cool-Down

  • The Siren Wail – move from your highest (comfortable) note on an “ahh sound,” sliding down to the octave below
  • Chords – move from your highest note down 5 steps
  • Bubble Trill – Similar to your vocal warm-up exercises, incorporate lip trills into your cool-down

As Francisca mentions, try to spend around 10-15 minutes cooling down your voice after a performance or gig, until your voice feels comfortable and normal again.

Additional Resources About Vocal Cool-Downs

Want to learn more? Check out our live, online singing classes taught by Francisca and other awesome singing teachers, or sign up for private voice lessons!

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Video: vocal exercises to increase range

Video: Vocal Exercises to Increase Your Range | Singing Tips

Singers, ready to reach those high (or low!) notes? In this video, teacher Arlys A. demonstrates some easy vocal exercises to use as you work on increasing your range:

Video Recap: Vocal Exercises to Increase Your Range

Try incorporating these exercises into your practice routine:

  1. Lip bubbles or lip trills
  2. The “oooh” slides

From there, work with your voice teacher to find songs at the right level for you — it’s crucial to find the balance of challenging yourself, but not straining your voice!

Here’s an idea of what your voice teacher may work with you on, as described by teacher Emmanuel N:

  • First step: Discovering your current vocal range is our first step. I will play a virtual piano, and you will sing each note I play (if you have mimicry then this will be easy) until we have found your vocal range. If you know your range already then we skip this step.
  • Second step: We then discover your weak spots – where your voice sounds weak, where you have trouble, and where you need help. After this we can then start to increase your vocal range.
  • Third step: I will then teach you and give you tips and suggestions on how to sing lower or higher – depending on what you want. Here is where our lessons will vary completely seeing as each student is different.
  • Fourth step: Every time we discover a new voice I will teach you to bridge your voices together so there is no gap between them. Typically this is our last step with each voice.

Not sure of your current vocal range? We love this video, which you can follow along with to determine your vocal range in one minute:

Make sure to stand up straight and fully support your voice as you’re working on these exercises, too. Posture can make all the difference!

Additional Resources About Increasing Range:

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

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MO - 30 Fantastic Musical Theater Audition Songs Just for Kids (6)

30 Fantastic Musical Theater Audition Songs Just for Kids [Videos]

MO - 30 Fantastic Musical Theater Audition Songsfor Kids

Last month we shared our recommendations for age-appropriate audition songs for teens, but if your aspiring star is a bit younger, we’ve got you covered too! In this article, voice teacher Molly R. shares her top picks for musical theater audition songs for kids…

 

There are so many opportunities for kids that love musical theater these days! The popularity of the “junior” editions of big Broadway shows is steadily increasing, for one. There are also several companies across the country that specialize in showcasing kids and only kids, as well as tons of musical theater summer camps.

Needless to say, it’s super exciting to be a young performer. However, one thing that remains tricky is finding suitable repertoire that is both age-appropriate as well as fun. Don’t worry — I’ve got you covered!

But First, a Few Things to Keep in Mind…

Many of these songs that I recommend are NOT from Broadway shows, but are definitely casting director-approved. Generally, there is more flexibility with kids’ repertoire as there aren’t as many roles for them. That means Disney movies, old standards, and novelty songs are some other styles will sometimes work just fine, unless the production team says otherwise.

Most of all, casting directors are looking for performers who can prepare good material and perform confidently, and often won’t be as specific in their audition requirements with kids as they are with adult actors.

While some of these songs in this list are meant to be sung by a specific gender, there are also several songs that work beautifully for either! So let’s dive in — here are 30 great musical theater audition songs for girls, audition songs for boys, and audition songs for kids in general.

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Girls

1. “I Always Knew” — Annie Warbucks

2. “Home” — Wonderland
3. “The Girl I Mean To Be” — The Secret Garden
4. “Born to Entertain” — Ruthless! The Musical
5. “Let Me Entertain You” — Gypsy
6. “Sayonara” — How to Eat Like a Child

7. “Reflection” — Mulan
8. “The World Above” — The Little Mermaid
9. “Gee, I’m Glad I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me” — Anne of Green Gables

10. “On the Good Ship Lollipop” — Shirley Temple

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Boys

  1. “Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun” — A Christmas Story: The Musical

2. “A Round Shouldered Man” — The Secret Garden
3. “My Best Girl” — Mame
4. “Gary, Indiana” — The Music Man
5. “Different” — Honk!
6. “Getting Tall” — Nine

7. “Electricity” — Billy Elliott
8. “Little People” — Les Misérables
9. “The Bare Necessities” — The Jungle Book
10. “A Letter from Charlie Bucket” — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Girls OR Boys

1. “When I Grow Up” — Matilda the Musical

2. “The Tree” — The Me Nobody Knows
3. “Who Will Buy?” — Oliver!
4. “Getting to Know You” — The King and I

5. “The Ugly Duckling” — Hans Christian Anderson
6. “Be Kind To Your Parents” — Fanny
7. “I Love to Laugh” — Mary Poppins
8. “Happiness” — You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

9. “I Won’t Grow Up” — Peter Pan
10. “Put On a Happy Face” — Bye Bye Birdie

Final Tips for Aspiring Broadway Stars

Some of these songs are more complex than others, so it’s crucial that kids work closely with a voice teacher to prepare their chosen audition pieces. In addition to musical accuracy, your young actor will impress their panel if they really know what they are singing about— so it’s a good idea that they do their homework as far as researching the character and show, too!

Confidence is key, and a voice teacher can certainly help with that. TakeLessons does a wonderful job matching up kids with the perfect teacher, and it’s easy to find one who is either nearby, or teaches online.

Have fun exploring these fantastic audition songs for kids, 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!

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How to Record Yourself Singing

How to Record Yourself Singing (& Still Sound Great) Without a Pricey Microphone

Singers, How to Record Yourself Without a Pricey Microphone

Singers, do you ever record yourself singing? It’s a great idea as you practice. But what if you don’t have a top-quality microphone or video camera? Don’t fret. In this guest post, Jesse from Hear The Music shares some helpful pointers…

 

 

Many voice teachers encourage their students to record videos of themselves singing, as you can review them afterward and identify ways you can improve.

But if you’re just starting out, you may not want to spend hundreds of dollars on recording equipment to do this. You may be wondering, “How do I record myself singing — and still sound good — with only tools I already have?”

Luckily, all you need is a laptop with a webcam or a smartphone!

Here are some helpful tips on how to make yourself look and sound as great as possible.

Positioning

Music videos, like the ones you see from your favorite artists, often incorporate all sorts of wild camera angles, swooping shots, and fancy visual effects. Going on the assumption that your video will be used for self-evaluation and improvement, none of that is necessary.

Instead, keep it simple. Position your camera about chest level and try to get your entire body in the shot. If your foot is out of frame, you may never know that you subconsciously tap your foot as you sing.

One of the limitations of using your phone or laptop webcam is that the microphone and camera are attached to each other. Normally the microphone would be right in front of the singer, and the camera a ways back. Finding the best positioning for this setup is a bit of a balancing act. You want to be able to see as much of your body as possible, while also keeping the microphone close enough to record at a good volume.

If you’re having trouble getting a good balance, you may want to record yourself singing the song twice: once to watch your body movements and mannerism, and another with the camera much closer to get a good recording of your voice.

Simple Room Acoustics

Acoustics are the properties or qualities of a room that determine how sound is transmitted in it, and it is literally a science.

Some basic rules are:

  • Don’t record in a small room with flat, square, bare walls. This causes the sound waves to bounce all over the place and mess with each other. Larger rooms with furniture, carpet, curtains, and wall coverings will make your recording sound much better.
  • Eliminate all the background noise you possibly can. Keep kids and pets out, close doors and windows, turn off the TV and unrelated music, wait until the construction crew outside your window stops jackhammering.
  • If the room still sounds echoey, throw some pillows against the wall and hang up some blankets. They make great cheap acoustic panels.

How to Record Yourself Singing – Best Practices

Keep in mind you’re making a video to showcase and critique your singing abilities, not trying to win a VMA award. (Yet.)

Here are some simple best practices to get you started:

  • Look into the camera. This is the same thing that you (hopefully) will be doing when you perform for other people, so you want to know what it looks like to them.
  • Sit or stand naturally. Don’t tense up just because you are being recorded.
  • Don’t wear distracting clothes. Clothes with lots of stripes or funky patterns may not record right and create some weird effects. Plus you want to be able to focus on you and your music, not your outfit.
  • Beware of your background. Try to have a neutral, plain-looking wall behind you. Same idea as your clothes. You want the focus to be on you and your music.
  • Use lots of light. You want to have plenty of light shining on you from the sides and from behind the camera, but not from behind you.

Next Steps

Once you get the hang of recording yourself and are confident in your abilities, you may want to start looking into producing a higher-quality music video for other people to enjoy.

The easiest way to get a dramatic increase in your recorded music quality is to use an external microphone. These days you don’t need a large expensive home studio system to get great results. Great microphones that simply plug into your computer via USB can be found for less than $100. The improvement will be immediate and glorious. Before you go out and buy something, though, you need to know how to find the best microphones for singing.

Once you have a good microphone, you can use a better quality video camera. In fact, you may already have a great one and not even know it!

When you have those two pieces of equipment you will be able to create videos that rival 90% of the music videos on YouTube! So what are you waiting for? Start recording today!

jessePost Author: Jesse
Jesse owns Hear The Music, a blog dedicated to helping people find great music, and helping them learn to create their own. On his site he offers advice to artists recording music at home, interviews with YouTube stars, and helpful reviews of recording equipment.

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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!

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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)

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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)

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Vocal Health- The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals (9)

Vocal Health: The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals

Vocal Health- The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals

Lots of rehearsals coming up? Feeling under the weather? In this article, singing teacher Elaina R. shares an important vocal health tip that can save your voice! 

 

The tenor in my professional vocal quintet is named Mark. It’s a perfectly good name, but for a singer it can be frustrating. Nearly every day someone announces that they are going to “mark,” and poor Mark gets confused. Sometimes even Mark has to mark.

What the heck am I talking about? Marking is an important skill that every singer, amateur or professional, must learn in order to stay healthy. Learning about this vocal health tip (and how to do it properly) can save you from a whole host of problems, including vocal fatigue and injury. And if your name is Mark, I apologize in advance for any confusion this may cause.

What Is Marking and When Should I Do It?

Marking is a type of modified singing meant to minimize strain on the voice. It limits volume and range while maintaining rhythm and pitch accuracy.

Most importantly, marking is a tool you can use to avoid getting vocally tired and hurting yourself during vocal rehearsals of any kind. This includes rehearsals for choir, musicals, operas, show choir, a cappella, even personal rehearsal time. Marking comes in handy when:

  • You have to sing the same taxing thing over and over. This can happen:
    • For the benefit of collaborators (e.g. piano accompanists, orchestra, other singers)
    • When learning new music, either with others or on your own. There’s no reason to sing a vocally difficult passage forte 10 times just to learn it.
  • You are feeling vocal fatigue (pain or discomfort in the throat, difficulty getting a clear vocal sound, general feeling of strain)
  • You are vocally compromised by allergies or illness (maybe you are getting over a cold and don’t want to overdo it)

A quick note on marking in rehearsal: be sure to let your conductor, director, and/or pianist know that you will be marking beforehand. Marking is completely acceptable to any conductor or accompanist (in fact, it shows how mature you are!), but if you don’t let people know, they might be confused as to why you sound different than usual.

How to Mark

There are two main ways that singers mark. However, before we get to how to mark, let me give a little disclaimer.

Marking can be just as tiring, if not MORE tiring, than singing in full voice if you don’t do it properly. You may think you’re taking it easy, but you still have to think about breath, resonance, and tension in the same ways you would if you were singing in full voice. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself while marking, which completely negates the purpose of this vocal health tip!

Got it? OK, good. Moving on to the two main types of marking.

  • Sing quieter. When marking, singers often eliminate dynamics in favor of a comfortable piano. This often involves switching vocal registration (head voice instead of high chest voice, for example). The result is a lighter, easier sound than full voice singing. Not sure what this means? Refresh your knowledge of vocal registers.
  • Eliminate range extremes. When marking, singers avoid high notes by transposing them down an octave. For example, if I was marking and I had an E6 in my music, I would sing an E5 or E4 instead.

Mark Away

The next time you are feeling vocally strained while trying to learn new music or while in a rehearsal, remember this vocal health tip. When done properly, marking helps protect your voice from fatigue and injury, ensuring that you’ll sound great when performance time comes around. Your musical collaborators, your voice teacher, and your vocal cords will all appreciate that!

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!

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