vocal fry example

The Surprising Truth About the Vocal Fry “Epidemic”

vocal fry exampleHow bad is “vocal fry,” anyway? As a singer, should you be concerned about this new vocal trend, heard in artists such as Britney Spears? In this guest post by Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R., listen to a vocal fry example and learn the truth behind the fuss…

 

I was recently listening to This American Life (a popular radio show and podcast), and the hosts started talking about vocal fry. As a voice professional, I immediately started paying rapt attention. Within a few minutes, I could tell that there is a serious societal problem surrounding this tiny vocal fault.

As it turns out, the media has been complaining about the glottal fry “epidemic” for years, claiming that young women use too much of it in their speech (check out this ridiculous article). Is vocal fry really a speech trend? Is it really limited to young women? What is vocal fry, anyway? Get the truth – and throw out the lies – here.

What Is Vocal Fry?

Vocal fry happens when someone doesn’t use enough breath to speak. The lack of breath causes a creaky sound as the vocal cords come into close contact. It usually happens at the ends of phrases, as the pitch of the sentence goes down and tapers off. Listen to some of the reporters for a vocal fry example on the aforementioned This American Life segment.

Vocal Fry Misconceptions

There is an astonishing amount of misinformation in the media about vocal fry. Here are the misconceptions I find most alarming:

Myth: Vocal fry happens because “that’s the way your voice is.”
Truth: Vocal fry happens because you’re using a very small amount of air to speak. That’s why lots of people talk with vocal fry in the morning, as their bodies are still getting warmed up.

Myth: Only young women speak with vocal fry.
Truth: Anyone can speak with vocal fry, and almost everyone speaks with vocal fry occasionally. In the segment, Ira Glass correctly points out that he, in fact, speaks with vocal fry. In this video examining vocal fry, the vocal coach exhibits a vocal fry example at the end of his very first sentence, probably by accident:

Myth: Vocal fry is a new trend.
Truth: Vocal fry is not new. It has been happening for as long as humans have been phonating.

Myth: You can’t get rid of vocal fry.
Truth: Vocal fry is very easy to get rid of.

Is Vocal Fry Bad?

Vocal fry is not an efficient way to speak. Not using adequate air to speak puts unnecessary stress on your vocal cords. It is also impossible to project when using vocal fry, so unless you are speaking to someone right next to you, it won’t serve you well.

From a societal perspective, there is evidence that the older generations (people 40 and up) have negative attitudes toward vocal fry in young women. As the earlier podcast and article attest, middle-aged to older folks perceive young women who speak with vocal fry as unintelligent and insecure. This is just plain sexist, since the same views don’t seem to apply to men. However, if you are a young woman who speaks with vocal fry, it’s important to know what others may think when you speak.

How to Speak Without Vocal Fry

To speak without vocal fry, simply speak with breath support. Try this:

  • Take the time to breathe before you speak.
  • As you speak, think about projecting your sound to someone across the room.
  • Do not allow the end of your sentence to nosedive into vocal fry.

If you have a voice teacher, she or he will be happy to help you master this. The more you work supported speaking into your daily life, the easier it will get.

No Epidemic Here

It isn’t fair that some people have such strong preconceived notions about vocal fry. However, the truth remains that those notions exist (and that vocal fry is not healthy in the first place). I also find that learning to speak well positively affects your singing. Speak well, sing well, and spread the word: vocal fry is no epidemic. It’s just part of life.

Elaina RElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at 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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Tips for Singers - What to Pack in Your Gig Bag

Singers, Don’t Forget These 9 Items In Your Gig Bag!

Performing in front of a live audience is an amazing feeling! But to ensure a smooth, no-stress gig, preparation is key. If you’re looking for tips for your first gig — or just need a refresher — check out this advice from Saint Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L...

 

For the performing singer, there’s nothing quite like having practiced your butt off for three weeks, spraying your throat every five minutes with that throat spray for singers, and running through your customized voice exercises, only to realize as you walk through those venue doors that you forgot your microphone at home.

As the lead singer of two Saint Augustine, Florida bands, I know that I’m part of a team. But I also know that I need to be responsible for my own stuff, and what exactly we need as performing singers, whether you’re a solo act or in a group, can get pretty specific. Whether it’s your first gig or you’re an experienced performer, you need to be prepared. Here’s my list of what every singer needs to pack in his or her gig bag.

What to Pack In Your Gig Bag

Throat Coat Tea and Honey (single-serve packets)
You might be skeptical of special teas and potions for the voice, like I once was. But trust me, after singing in a dry room for two hours, you’ll be thankful for the lubrication!

Great Microphone
My microphone is a Shure product. It’s not expensive and sounds great. What’s important is having your own, especially if you ever put your mouth on it. Germs, anyone?

Wind Screen
This is super important for protecting the investment that is your microphone. Strong wind, a drop on the floor, or even blowing air into it can cause damage. Your wind screen can prevent this.

Your Phone
OK, so you might not need to pack this in the gig bag, but be sure to take it. If you’re running late, you’ll want to let the venue know.

Mic Stand
Even if you’re the kind of performer who runs all over the stage with a cordless mic, you’ll need to keep that mic in a safe spot between sets. There might even be a song you’ll want to try with the mic in its stand!

Water
Even though I personally recommend drinking tea with a thicker consistency than water during performances, water will hydrate the body before and after you sing.

Potato Chips
I was skeptical about this one for a long time. But a music producer recommended them, and now, I always pack them in my gig bag. The salt reduces mucus, the oil lubricates, and the crunch helps relieve stress.

Your Merch
If you have any merchandise for your act, like T-shirts, CDs, cards for free downloads of one of your songs, or even just business cards, you’ll want to pack them in your gig bag. You never know who you’ll meet at a show, or what fans will ask for!

Extension Cord
Recently, my band had to make a really stressful and last-minute run to the local hardware store 20 minutes before show time, because our cords weren’t long enough for the new venue. Be prepared with a 50-foot extension cord. Oh, and make it an outdoor one, in case it rains!

Not There Yet? Here’s How to Get Gigs

Word of mouth is said to be the best way to get gigs for bands and musicians. But since the Internet is where so much is communicated nowadays, word of mouth means having a great social media presence. Make sure that you have a fresh, updated Facebook page with videos, reviews (even from teachers and fellow musicians), audio, and lots of photos of rehearsals and formal band photos, too. Make sure that you have a YouTube channel, so that potential clients and fans can watch you perform. Even if you only post great band practices, people can still get a feel for your sound! You can also make your own website for free at Wix.com, where you can post past and future gigs. (Here’s a great post from Wix about setting up your music website.)

Next, search your local paper or Google local open mics – these are a great way to get exposure and meet other musicians! You can also build a profile for free at websites like GigMasters and GigSalad. They’ll send leads for gigs right to your email and charge a small fee. Here’s a great round-up of those and other websites for finding gigs.

Tips for Your First Gig

Gearing up for your first gig? Congrats!

  • First, get as many details as possible from your gig contact, who’s probably the person who scheduled or hired you. Make sure that you know exactly what you’ll need to bring, what the venue already has and is willing to share, how early you’re allowed to set up your gear, how long you’re expected to perform, and a number for your contact at the venue on the day of the event, just in case you get caught in traffic or tied up, and you need to call ahead.
  • Second, if it’s possible, go to the venue yourself to check it out. How much room is there? (This’ll also help you feel more comfortable when you actually perform in the space.)
  • Third, rehearse as much as your schedule allows, and try to practice in the same physical set-up that you’ll be in the venue. Here’s a handy checklist for preparing for a gig.
  • Fourth, relax, but not by telling yourself not to be nervous… instead tell yourself that the nervousness is only excitement. It really is all about perspective and attitude.

All this considered, the most important thing to bring to a performance should be so big, that you couldn’t fit it into any gig bag. That thing is your amazing self-confidence. Remember that excitement you were feeling earlier? One of the best tips for your first gig is to use that excitement as extra energy. Because, let’s face it, you could drink all of the finest teas in the world and own the best microphones, but if you don’t believe that you belong up there, singing, you’re toast.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

 

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how to be a better singer

Infographic: Check These 8 Things to Become a Better Singer

How to Be a Better Singer - The Singer's StanceAs you’re learning how to be a better singer, proper posture is bound to come up! Who knew so much could be affected by the way you stand when you sing? Take a look at the basics in this infographic by Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R...

 

When you hear the word “posture,” what do you think of? A ballerina poised for action, or a military officer standing at attention, perhaps. Be warned: neither the ballerina nor the military officer has a good singer’s stance.

The word “posture” has so many negative connotations that I don’t use it with my students. Instead, I use the word “stance.” Singing stance is actually the healthiest possible way to stand. It lines your body up in the most comfortable and efficient way, reducing tension, and maximizing your ability to breathe and phonate. By honoring your body’s construction in your stance, you gain the freedom and flexibility you need to improve your singing.

How to Be a Better Singer - The Singer's Stance

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Standing like this will feel weird at first. Use a mirror or ask your voice teacher to help you, since what you feel and what you are actually doing are often completely different. I tell my students to practice standing well whenever they remember: while waiting in line, cooking, or talking on the phone, for example.

As you get used to your singer’s stance, you may find that you feel more relaxed and better in general. That makes sense, since this is the way your body was meant to stand. Great posture is just one of the many wonderful benefits of voice lessons as you learn how to be a better singer; you will likely look taller, thinner, and more confident just by standing this way. Embrace your singer’s stance and welcome a more relaxed, poised, and musical you.

Elaina RElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at 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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How to Prepare for a Great Choral Audition

4 Must-Read Choir Audition Tips: Selecting Your Song & More

How to Prepare for a Great Choral AuditionThinking about joining a choir in your community? There may be an audition process to go through first. Here, Hayward, CA voice teacher Molly R. shares her tips for success…

 

Sometimes choral auditions can seem daunting with all of their requirements: sight reading, tonal memory, range assessments… and oh yeah, you have to prepare a song or two as well! But fear not, as there are ways to get you confident for the big day. Here are some tips on how to prepare.

1) Select the Right Choir Audition Songs

You’ll want to select a simple audition song (or two) that shows you off. Many choral groups will specify acceptable genres, but you can never go wrong with a short art song or classic musical theatre piece. Suggested composers include Brahms, Faure, Quilter, and Rodgers and Hammerstein.  Opera arias are not recommended as they tend to be lengthier and vocally very demanding. Remember, choral groups are ensembles, so you’re expected to blend with the other voices — not overpower them!

Auditioning with Choral Music

Here are some suggestions for basic vocal literature that would work well for a choral audition. These can be for ALL voice types, and are available in both high and low keys:

  • “Zueignung” – Richard Strauss. This short but gorgeous piece in German shows off your vocal range AND ability to sing a long, connected line.
  • “Ici-bas!” – Gabriel Faure. This moderate-tempo art song is marvelous for showing off French diction, overall vocal range, and musicality.
  • “Come Ready and See Me” – This lovely American art song by Richard Hundley is a favorite for many reasons. It has a lovely, memorable melody! Remember that it’s important to show how well you enunciate in your native language (a huge thing with choral directors), so if you perform this well and really use the dynamics, you’ll impress!

Auditioning With Other Songs

If the chorus you’re auditioning for allows a variety of audition songs, here are some helpful lists to find great choir audition songs based on your voice type:

2) Brush Up On Your Sight Reading Skills

This is one of the most important choral audition tips, since sight singing is often part of the audition process. There are tons of resources out there that can help — books such as the Danhauser series by  G. Schirmer or the Jenson Sight Singing Course, and very useful websites such as The Practice Room – but make sure you’re also working with your singing teacher within your lessons to improve your skills.

If you’re nervous, don’t fret: it’s unlikely the audition panel/choral director will have you read anything in a crazy key or time signature! They are looking for basic musicianship. Remember to practice slow and steady, and to take deep breaths. Treat it the same way you treat your songs when you practice. The same advice certainly applies for when you sight read on your audition day!

3) Practice Your Intervals

Singing intervals is an essential skill for all singers, and will come in handy when you’re sight reading your part in choral rehearsals! Funky ‘n Fun Series 3: “Challenging Patterns” by Kim Chandler is incredible for helping singers identify all sorts of intervals, scales, triads, and so on. Once you’ve got them in your ear, it will make the tonal memory and sight reading portions of your audition much easier for you. Plan to spend a good amount of time on these exercises in both your vocal lessons and practice leading up to your choir audition.

4) Watch Videos of Dynamic Choral Directors

Eric Whitacre is one the hottest to follow right now. (He has even given a TED Talk!) Watch how closely his singers follow his every move. His passion for each piece that he conducts really shows on his face and translates over to the rest of his choir. The best conductors are able to do this!  It’s important that choral singers look completely engaged as they perform, just as if they were soloists.

Your voice teacher is also bound to have plenty of other choir audition tips and sound advice on how to prepare! Note that many choral works require straight tone, so if you have a bigger voice and have been training as a soloist, you’ll definitely want to ask your voice teacher for help with this. Don’t have a voice teacher yet? Start your search here!

mollyrMolly 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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musical theater nerds

Definitive Proof Theater Nerds Make the Best Prom Dates

Do you have a date to the prom this year? Whether you’re a jock, nerd, princess or basket case, prom is all about having a great time with your friends and celebrating the end of the school year. If you consider yourself a musical theater nerd, then you’re in particularly good luck! With those years of acting and singing lessons, we musical theater nerds know how to have a good time.

Here are our top 10 reasons why musical theater nerds make the best prom dates ever.

 

1. We will actually dance.

Nothing’s worse than going to prom with a cool, charming, and attractive date… who proceeds to spend the entire dance hugging the wall with a drink in hand.

2. We can actually dance.

No one likes a date who either spends the entire time on the dance floor stepping on your feet, or doing an arrhythmic pantomime that’s so bad it makes you long for Elaine Benes from “Seinfeld.”

3. We have a flair for the dramatic.

Prom is all about ridiculous pomp and gratuitous grandiosity. Who can you trust to shine in this environment, the soccer team captain or a musical theater nerd?

4. We know how to share the spotlight.

For all the well-deserved stereotypes about drama queens and attention hogs, musical theater nerds know all about switching effortlessly from starring to supporting roles.

5. We have a posse.

Most people come out of musical theater with what amounts to a second family. Whether you need a crew to back you up in a real fight (or just a dance fight), your date has you covered.

6. We tend to be pretty hot.

7. We know how to dress.

If you think our friends in the costume department will let us go to prom wearing anything less than an amazing outfit…

8. We’re used to uncomfortable outfits.

Forget about girls who switch into flats five minutes after arriving in heels. Your date has worn worse shoes for a two-hour show with multiple dance numbers.

9. We won’t complain.

See above. No matter what the hardship, the show must go on.

10. We’re mildly famous.

There’s a rich tradition of teenagers asking celebrities to proms (and actually getting a “yes”). But not only will everyone recognize your musical theater nerd date from that amazing play last semester, you’ll actually have a chance of seeing them again after the night is over.

 

So there you have it. 10 undisputed reasons why musical theater nerds make the best prom dates. But what happens once the party’s over? If you’re dreaming about making it big on Broadway, remember that taking singing lessons with a quality instructor will help get you to that next step in your musical theater career. Plus, there’s no better time for you to brush up on your skills than during your free time this summer!

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Checklist for Auditions-Performance

How to Prepare For Your First Singing Performance [Checklist]

Are you gearing up for your very first time singing on stage or in front of an audience? Learn how to get ready for an audition or vocal performance — and overcome stage fright before it hits you — with this handy checklist from online voice teacher Tyler J...

 

Performing can be a beautiful experience, but if it’s your first time in front of an audience, the thought of it can be nerve-wracking. Stage fright is common for beginners (and believe it or not, sometimes even for professionals who have done tons of gigs), but these fears can be overcome with simple preparation. By following this timeline, you can learn how to prepare for a singing performance, conquer any anxieties, and hit the stage with confidence.

Checklist for Singers First PerformanceIf you follow these steps, you’ll find that the stage isn’t quite so scary after all. If you still feel a little anxious right before, that’s okay – use that adrenaline to add energy to your performance. Throughout the weeks leading up to the performance, make sure to use a checklist like this with your private instructor. He or she can help coach you and provide plenty of encouragement as you prepare for your singing performance or audition. Remember, you’ve worked hard and are well prepared — now get out there and show the audience what you’re made of!

Tyler J

 Tyler J. teaches multiple styles of singing and guitar via online lessons. He recently earned a Master of Music in Commercial Music from California State University Los Angeles and can also help students with composition, music recording, and audio engineering. Learn more about Tyler here!

 

 

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popular cover songs

Singers, Here’s How to Make Cover Songs REALLY Stand Out

How To Improve Your Cover SongsSinging popular cover songs can be a blast — it’s a great way to rev up your crowd, and gives you the opportunity to show off your skills and make the song your own! Here, online voice teacher Emmanuel M. shares his tips to keep in mind…

 

For those of us who love to sing, there are some songs that we just fall in love with and can’t stop singing. Sometimes, this passion inspires us to record popular cover songs and upload them online for others to adore. However, sometimes there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other covers of that same song. So what can you do to make yours stand out?

Most popular cover songs can be categorized into one of two methods: singing the song like the original singer (the most common method) or creating a more personal rendition of the song. Whichever you choose is up to you, but here are some tips to help you decide which one is best for you:

  • For the first method, your voice must stand out. Because your cover song will sound like the many others that follow this method, uniqueness and originality will fall mostly on your voice (i.e. does your voice stand out?). Chances are you don’t sound like the singer, but what matters is whether or not your voice sounds good.
  • For the second method, the style and the way you sing the song must stand out, as well as your voice. Singers using this method create their own melodies, runs, and riffs; they add layers, harmonies, background vocals, and high notes. The key here is to make the song your own – to give it your own twist.

To make your choice easier, just think: Does your voice stand out (e.g. great vocals, tonality, or timbre), or does your musicality stand out (e.g. original melodies, harmonies, runs, and riffs)?

Singing Cover Songs Using the First Method

If you decide to sing your cover song like the original singer, the bonus is that this method is relatively easy, since you just follow along with what the singer is doing. However, if you copy another artist, your voice must stand out in order to make it an original cover. If your voice sounds like most other people’s, then this might not be the best choice for you, as there is a ton of competition among singers using this method. My advice is this: Know your voice and be honest. Does your voice truly stand out in this song? By that I mean, do people get the chills when you sing this song? Each of our voices is “made” for certain songs, and while sometimes your voice may be perfect for one song, it may not work well with another.

Singing Cover Songs Using the Second Method

If you decide to sing your cover song using your own flare, then you have the opportunity to make it really stand out. Singers with musicality, this is your forte! It’s time to own that song and give it your own spin. Make a unique rendition that pays homage to the singer, but also showcases your talent. Use your skills to your advantage. If singing low notes is your strength, then sing the song in a lower key or add lower harmonies. If belting is your strength, then add extra belts or sustain some notes in the background. Basically, do what you do best! This truly is your time to shine and to blow people away. Singers who use this method can also find different instrumental or acoustic versions of the original song. Although this is much harder to do (because most songs don’t have these instrumentals online), if you can find one, then this can be a huge advantage for you.

Additional Tips For All Cover Singers

  • Play the music with your own instrument of choice (guitar, piano, etc.).
  • Sing an a cappella version of the song using your own voice as the various “instruments.”
  • Add harmonies, background vocals, and anything else you can do with your voice.
  • Record yourself with a good camera. Videos of popular cover songs that show the singer singing get more attention than videos with just the song and a picture.

Ready to improve your singing skills? Working with a qualified vocal coach can give you the boost you need. Find a singing teacher in your area! 

Emmanuel Noriega

Emmanuel M. teaches singing and songwriting exclusively online. A California State University, Fullerton graduate and native Spanish speaker, he also teaches essay writing, study skills, and Spanish. Learn more about Emmanuel here!

 

 

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Stop! Don't You DARE Walk Into a Musical Theatre Audition With THESE SONGS!

Stop! 6 Musical Theatre Audition Songs to Avoid at All Costs

Stop! Don't You DARE Walk Into a Musical Theatre Audition With THESE SONGS!Selecting the right repertoire is a big part of a successful audition — but be careful, as there are so many overdone musical theatre audition songs out there. Here, Molly R. shares six songs to avoid… and what to try instead!

 

With musical theatre auditions, often the toughest part isn’t the audition itself, but instead making a decision on what to sing. I’m here to help narrow it down by telling you what NOT to sing in an audition — the overdone musical theatre audition songs.

Keep in mind that audition panels have been listening to actors/singers all day long (or much longer!), and there are many songs they would rather not hear ever done again, even if they are done well.

Don’t annoy these panels. Instead, make them love you by kindly avoiding these overdone musical theatre songs.

1. “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables”

OK, so it worked for Susan Boyle. But that’s the problem! People have already been singing from “Les Miserables” for more than 20 years — but once she became an Internet sensation, even more women went into auditions with this ballad. Not a smart choice. Save it for the shower! If you like singing from big, bold musicals, I suggest you look at Frank Wildhorn shows instead. “Scarlet Pimpernel” is very similar in style to “Les Miserables,” but no one ever sings from this show, as it was a big flop! A solo you may like from “Scarlet Pimpernel” is “Only Love.”

2. “Corner of the Sky” from “Pippin”

This number has been overdone for more than 40 years now! Tenors, you have much better options than this song. If you like this one, why not try another Stephen Schwartz song, like “All Good Gifts” from “Godspell”? It’s still a song that a panel will know and love, but it’s not something they hear every night at auditions without fail.

3. “Anthem” from “Chess”

Sure, it may be a lesser done musical, but this is one of the most overdone musical theatre songs for tenor and high baritones (baritenors). It’s truly a wonderful, dramatic song — but again, panels hear it way too often. For a better option, try “Love Can’t Happen” from “Grand Hotel” by Maury Yeston. It’s every bit as soaring and impressive as “Anthem” (if not more so!).

4. “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl”

“Glee” has been great for promoting the art of musical theatre, but as a result, certain show tunes have become way too popular at auditions. Belters, we all love this song, but there are so many other great tunes that will let you show off your voice! Try either “Look What Happened to Mabel” or “Wherever He Ain’t” from the criminally overlooked “Mack & Mabel” by Jerry Herman. Both are incredibly fun and sassy numbers. I promise panels don’t hear them often enough! On another note, do avoid “People” from “Funny Girl,” as well. Many professionals firmly believe this belongs to one singer and one singer only: Barbra Streisand!

Lastly, overdone musical theatre songs for kids include:

5. “Where is Love?” from “Oliver!”

Boys, look beyond this option, please! There’s a very funny number from the newer musical “A Christmas Story” that you’ll love. It’s called “Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun,” and it’s Ralphie’s solo. It’s a lot of fun to sing, and the audition panel will really enjoy hearing it. 

6. Anything from “Annie”

Girls, no “Annie” ever…. unless a panel specifically asks for it. No “Maybe,” and definitely definitely no “Tomorrow”! “Matilda” is a new musical for young girls that is taking Broadway by storm. Look into the tune “Naughty.” It will show off your acting skills too!

Your voice teacher is likely to have lots of other helpful suggestions on interesting musical theatre audition repertoire that will suit you! Don’t have a voice teacher? No problem! TakeLessons is the best place to find one.

Break a leg!

mollyrMolly 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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Six Graduation Songs That Everyone Will Love!

6 Perfect Graduation Songs for the Class of 2015

Six Graduation Songs That Everyone Will Love!Gearing up for graduation? Congratulations! Whether you’re putting on a performance or simply need to load up your party playlist, here are some of the top graduation songs, rounded up by Hayward, CA voice teacher Molly R...

 

It’s May, and before you know it we’re getting into another very busy time of year! One of the things we have to look forward to is graduations galore (how did it get to be the end of the school year already?) .

If you’re a singer, perhaps you’ve been asked by a friend or family member to sing at a ceremony or party. There are lots of wonderful songs you can sing that are sure to please — the hard part is narrowing it down! Here are six suggestions for this year’s top graduation songs.

“Reach” - Gloria Estefan

This pop tune recorded by Gloria Estefan was composed for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Its simple yet positive message to keep reaching high is perfect for sending young people out into the great big world!

“Climb Every Mountain” – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Sound of Music”

This musical theatre classic is a marvelous choice for a classically trained voice, especially a big voiced mezzo-soprano or soprano. Its inspiring lyrics and soaring melody are best when sung with lots of conviction (and solid vocal technique!). Not recommended for pop voices.

“Unwritten” –  Natasha Bedingfield

This is another inspiring pop song perfect for the new graduate! Your entire life is now a blank page, so go ahead and write your story! This particular song is great for big voices that aren’t afraid to play with melismas, also known as vocal runs.

“The Climb” – Miley Cyrus

This is yet another pop song with lyrics that encourage us to focus on our goals in order to achieve our dreams, even in tough times. Talk about the perfect message for the big day! This song would also work well for middle school ceremonies and young singers.

“I Believe I Can Fly” – R. Kelly

This ’90s R&B song from “Space Jam” is great for a variety of singers — bonus if you have a choir or vocal ensemble to sing with you! It’s uplifting and big; there’s no better way to end the year and begin the next chapter! This song would work very well for all levels and ages.

“Fly” – Avril Lavigne

This is the newest of the six songs, penned just this year in honor of the Special Olympics. Like the other songs listed, it has a very inspiring message, but is also fairly easy to sing! Those newer to pop solos will be able to do a fine job with this one.

Naturally, your voice teacher is likely to have additional suggestions, so it’s a good idea to sift through these top graduation songs together. He or she really knows your voice and is a great resource for graduation day repertoire! TakeLessons is the ideal place to find a voice teacher if you do not already have one.

Be sure you do a good warm-up before the big performance… and break a leg!

mollyrMolly 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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Pre-performance checklist flowchart

Checklist for Singers: How to Prepare for an Upcoming Gig

Are you a singer gearing up for an important gig? If you’re feeling nervous about singing, don’t sweat. Here, online voice teacher Tyler J. share his timeline for success…

 

The gig is booked, you’ve invited your friends, and you realize on the night of the show that you haven’t even rehearsed yet. Your heart rate speeds up, your stomach turns, and you break out in a cold sweat. “I’ve barely rehearsed, I’m totally going to screw this up” repeats over and over in your mind as you pace back and forth counting down the hours until downbeat. Have you ever been in this situation? Of course you’re going to feel nervous about singing in this scenario.

It’s something that many performing musicians have experienced, but it fortunately can be remedied well in advance. Following the checklist below is a great way to know you’re well prepared, and will help you confidently take the stage when the time comes.

Checklist for Singers

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While at first this may seem like a lot of work, when you space it out over a few weeks it’ll seem much easier. I highly suggest working through this checklist with your vocal coach (and if you don’t have one, look no further than right here on TakeLessons.com!). These are just some of the tips for singers that will help you become an amazing performer. Your teacher can also provide honest criticism of your performance, help you memorize lyrics, and help to keep your voice feeling strong and comfortable. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to step on stage with confidence and deliver an excellent performance.

Need help finding a vocal coach near you? Start your search here!

Tyler J

 Tyler J. teaches multiple styles of singing and guitar via online lessons. He recently earned a Master of Music in Commercial Music from California State University Los Angeles and can also help students with composition, music recording, and audio engineering. Learn more about Tyler here!

 

 

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