Siz Destructive Beliefs

6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Siz Destructive Beliefs

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…


Mind Over Matter

Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.

Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.

Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good

As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them


1) “If only I had…”

We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.

Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.

But life doesn’t work like this.

Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.

Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.

Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.

Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?

Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”

Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.

Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.

Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?

Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”

It’s not easy failing, is it?

That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.

It’s terrifying.

We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”

But we do it anyway.

And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”

We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.

What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.

Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.

What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.

Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”

Jealousy is a strong emotion.

When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.

Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.

The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.

These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

ElizabethKanePost Author: Elizabeth Kane
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves helping parents get the music education their child deserves. She is the creator of Practice for Parents, where she discusses what to look for in a music teacher, why kids really hate practicing, and what parents can do to guarantee their child’s success.

Photo by Alex Masters


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Top karaoke songs

Top Karaoke Songs for Girls, Guys, Groups & More

Top karaoke songs

Karaoke night! Some people make this a weekly ritual. Some do it for fun, and some take it very seriously… and even compete in karaoke contests!

No matter how you view karaoke singing, it’s a wonderful way to practice performing — especially if you’re a beginner singer. This guide is here to help you make the most of the night, including tips to prepare beforehand, how to choose the best song to sing for karaoke, and how to shine on stage!

How Karaoke Can Make You a Better Singer

Going to karaoke is a great idea if you’re pursuing music. Think of it this way: you’re not being judged as you would be at an audition or vocal contest, so it’s certainly less stress. You can try out new material here before you take it to the “big time”!

It also goes without saying that performing, in general, becomes easier the more you do it.  Karaoke night is a great way to get over stage fright if you attend regularly — you’ll always have an audience, and they are usually very supportive and encouraging (especially if you go with your friends and family!).

How to Pick the Best Karaoke Song For You

Before you hit the stage, I’d recommend having a few songs in mind. Thinking ahead can be especially helpful for beginner karaoke singers, since it will take the stress away from choosing the song the night of. But there’s a lot more to it than just picking your favorite song and rolling with it…

Let’s say you just love the Beatles. That doesn’t mean you can SING it in the original key without straining! John and Paul had very high singing voices, and most males are baritones. So, ask yourself this: “When I sing along to my favorite songs, who am I most comfortable singing with?”

Maybe it’s Taylor Swift, a middle voice. Or perhaps a higher one, like Dolly Parton. Use this as your guide for picking your song.

Oh, and since karaoke is about fun, don’t forget to pick a song that you truly enjoy singing! It’s usually a better idea to choose something more up-tempo as it’s less likely for nerves to show. If you’re nervous and singing a ballad, things can get shaky.

5 Tips for Singing Karaoke

Here are some other things to keep in mind about how to have a successful karaoke night:

  • Look confident! Start with a smile and with your feet planted shoulder width apart. Make no apologies for being on that stage!
  • Pick a song you really know so you’re not always having to look at the lyrics on the screen. Don’t forget you have an audience that wants you to sing to them!
  • Use good vocal technique. Breathe low, and keep your sound placed in your mask rather than shouting into the microphone.
  • Practice at home! YouTube has many excellent channels, such as KaraFun, where you can pull up the song for free.
  • Remember it’s about fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you pick a song you love, it will show in your performance. That’s when you can expect the compliments to pour in!

Ok, ready to find out the top karaoke songs? Here are our top picks, broken down by genre, category, and more! You can also jump to specific song recommendations using these links:

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Best Female Karaoke Songs

Ladies, you’ve got so many great choices when it comes to karaoke songs! From powerhouse pop to girl-power classics, these songs are really fun to sing! Here are our picks for the best female karaoke songs.

  1. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  2. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
  3. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
  4. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls
  5. Single Ladies – Beyoncé
  6. Like a Virgin – Madonna
  7. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
  8. Emotions – Mariah Carey
  9. Rehab – Amy Winehouse
  10. Black Velvet – Alannah Myles
  11. Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
  12. Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover – Sophie B. Hawkins

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Best Karaoke Songs for Men

Guys, start warming up your voices for these top picks in all vocal genres: rock, pop, punk, and even lounge-style. Here are our picks for the best karaoke songs for men.

  1. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
  2. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  4. Wonderwall – Oasis
  5. My Way – Frank Sinatra
  6. I Wanna Be Sedated – the Ramones
  7. Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
  8. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
  9. 867-5309/Jenny – Tommy Tutone
  10. Mack the Knife – Bobby Darin
  11. If I Was Your Girlfriend – Prince
  12. When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

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Top Easy Karaoke Songs

Need something a bit easier to sing? If your vocal skills aren’t quite where you want them to be yet, don’t worry — there are plenty of easy karaoke songs that you can still rock out to.

  1. 500 Miles – The Proclaimers
  2. These Boots Are Made for Walking – Nancy Sinatra
  3. Crazy – Patsy Cline
  4. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  5. Copacabana – Barry Manilow
  6. That’s the Way (I Like It) – KC and the Sunshine Band
  7. Celebration – Kool and the Gang
  8. Funkytown – Lipps, Inc
  9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
  10. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

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Duet Karaoke Songs

Grab a friend for twice the fun! Duet karaoke songs let both singers shine — check out the list below for our top picks.

  1. The Boy is Mine – Brandy and Monica
  2. Cruisin’ – Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow
  3. Islands in the Stream – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
  4. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  5. All I Have – Jennifer Lopez and LL Cool J
  6. Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
  7. Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
  8. Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
  9. Dream a Little Dream of Me – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
  10. Hunger Strike – Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell

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Best Group Karaoke Songs

For those of you that hit the bar with a bunch of friends, these group karaoke songs will let you all join in on the fun at the same time!

  1. We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  2. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
  3. ABC – Jackson 5
  4. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  5. Push It – Salt ‘n Pepa
  6. No Scrubs – TLC
  7. Lean On Me – Club Nouveau
  8. Rapper’s Delight – Sugar Hill Gang
  9. YMCA – Village People
  10. Supersonic – JJ Fad

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Funny Karaoke Songs

Want to just have fun, without worrying about your vocal skills at all? Pick one of the funny karaoke songs below, add in a splash of confidence and stage presence, and the crowd will love you.

  1. Rock Lobster – B-52s
  2. Just a Friend – Biz Markie
  3. Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
  4. MMMBop – Hanson
  5. Mickey – Toni Basil
  6. Party All the Time – Eddie Murphy
  7. The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades – Timbuk 3
  8. Whip It – Devo
  9. If You Like Piña Coladas – Jimmy Buffet
  10. Rico Suave – Gerardo

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’90s Karaoke Songs

’90s kids, listen up! Whether you grew up with rock or pop princesses, these crowd-pleasers will get everyone singing along with you.

  1. Closing Time – Semisonic
  2. Time of Your Life – Green Day
  3. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
  4. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
  5. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
  6. Genie in a Bottle – Christina Aguilera
  7. Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It – Will Smith
  8. Who Am I? (What’s My Name) – Snoop Dogg
  9. Santeria – Sublime
  10. Don’t Speak – No Doubt

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’80s Karaoke Songs

More a fan of ’80s music? Here are our favorite jams to sign up for.

  1. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
  2. I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner
  3. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany
  4. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go – Wham!
  5. Don’t You Want Me – Human League
  6. Tainted Love – Soft Cell
  7. I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz
  8. All Night Long – Lionel Richie
  9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
  10. Part-Time Lover – Stevie Wonder

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’60s and ’70s Karaoke Songs

Break out the bellbottoms and get your best John Travolta impression ready for these disco tunes.

  1. Dancing Queen – ABBA
  2. Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees
  3. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan
  4. Rapture – Blondie
  5. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy – Rod Stewart
  6. Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
  7. Brick House – Commodores
  8. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
  9. You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
  10. Let’s Get it On – Marvin Gaye

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Best Karaoke Love Songs

Can you feel the love tonight? If you want to impress your sweetie in the crowd, pick one of these top karaoke songs about love.

  1. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
  2. Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  3. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding
  4. Come to My Window – Melissa Etheridge
  5. The Sweetest Thing – U2
  6. I Melt With You – Modern English
  7. That’s the Way Love Goes – Janet Jackson
  8. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
  9. She Loves You – the Beatles
  10. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor

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Best Rock Karaoke Songs

Love singing rock music? Here are some of the best rock karaoke songs to consider.

  1. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  2. Creep – Radiohead
  3. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
  4. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  5. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister
  6. Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
  7. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  8. Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin
  9. Zombie – The Cranberries
  10. Enter Sandman – Metallica

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Best Pop Karaoke Songs

Pop songs are just plain fun to sing! Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Royals – Lorde
  2. Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
  3. Push – Matchbox Twenty
  4. Treasure – Bruno Mars
  5. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
  6. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  7. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  8. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
  9. Timber – Ke$ha and Pitbull
  10. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

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Best R&B Karaoke Songs

Feeling that rhythm and blues? Put your heart and soul into these top R&B karaoke songs.

  1. This is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
  2. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
  3. Poison – Bel Biv Devoe
  4. End of the Road – Boyz II Men
  5. No Diggity – Blackstreet
  6. Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill
  7. Un-break My Heart – Toni Braxton
  8. Not Gon’ Cry – Mary J. Blige
  9. He’s So Fine – The Chiffons
  10. Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin

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Best Country Karaoke Songs

More of the honky-tonk type? Whether you prefer classic country songs or modern-day hits, here are the best country karaoke songs.

  1. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! – Shania Twain
  2. Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt
  3. Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
  4. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
  5. Stand By Your Man – Tammy Wynette
  6. Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks
  7. Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams
  8. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
  9. Celebrity – Brad Paisley
  10. All My Ex’s Live in Texas – George Strait

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Worst Karaoke Songs

And whatever you do… avoid these WORST karaoke songs!

  1. Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus
  2. I’ve Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher
  3. Picture – Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock
  4. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
  5. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
  6. Barbie Girl – Aqua
  7. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
  8. Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet
  9. Boyfriend – Justin Bieber
  10. Friday – Rebecca Black

Readers, what top karaoke songs did we leave out? Add a comment with your favorites!

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 Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

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How to Enter (and Win) Singing Contests (3)

How to Enter (& Win) Singing Contests & Competitions

How to Enter (and Win) Singing Contests

Are you ready to step out of the practice room and take your talent to the stage? In this article, voice teacher Milton J. shares his tips for preparing for a competition or audition, and then continue reading for our list of contests to enter!


For quite a few years, we’ve tuned in our televisions, phones, and tablets to our favorite singing contests and competitions every week. We’ve been picking our favorite singers, voting for them (sometimes more than once), and hoping they win the coveted record deal at the end of the season.

We’ve watched as the juggernaut American Idol, a derivative of Pop Idol from Europe, gave way to other singing competition shows like The Voice, The X-Factor, and The Sing-Off.

Other worthy and not-so-worthy opponents, such as ABC’s Rising Star, have tried to get into the singing competition game. While American Idol may be ending, there are many singing competitions locally, regionally, state-wide, and nationally that vocalists can enter into, in addition to auditioning for the current king of reality singing competitions, The Voice.

The following tips will help out vocalists who audition live, as well as those who audition through a prepared recording. Let’s first take a look at tips for those who are preparing to audition live in front of a panel of judges.

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Tips for Live Singing Auditions

More often than not, singers will have to audition in front of one or more judges in order to be considered as contestants. It may sound nerve-wracking to sing in front of others, but you’ll be glad you seized the opportunity.

Live auditions give you the benefit of having instantaneous feedback from a panel of judges who, as a standard, should be well-versed in the art of vocal performance. Let’s go through some tips to help you conquer any live audition you wish to attend.

1. Be Well-Prepared

Judges can and will recognize an auditionee who has put enough time and effort into perfecting their performance. Practice is not something that should be overlooked. Develop a routine and structure your singing practice in a manageable way.

Your degree of preparedness will only be determined by how comfortable you are with your greatest weakness. Turning that weakness into a driving force in your performance will help you get to the level of comfort you need for a live audition.

For example, if your weakness involves your voice cracking at a high note, embrace it and try to make the voice crack fit the feel of the song. Australian singer Sia has a natural voice crack that has made its way into many of her songs. She embraced what many would call a weakness and turned it into something stylistic and beautiful.

2. Choose a Song That’s Suitable for Your Voice

One issue that plagues even wonderful singers is performing a song that’s not suitable for their voice. If your voice is more Andrea Bocelli (opera) than Justin Bieber (pop), that’s ok! Being true to your own voice, which inherently has unique qualities, is what will shine instead of doing a song that’s popular but doesn’t showcase your voice in the best light.

Find out which type of music suits your voice by listening to different singing styles and genres. Once you figure that out, you can start working on perfecting your style.

3. The Judges Are Your Audience

One mistake some vocalists make in their auditions is forcefully singing to judges, which turns to ineffectively singing through the judges — this is a common singing audition mistake. Treat the judges as your audience members as opposed to your adjudicators. Take them on your journey and help them feel the emotion you’re conveying through the lyrics of your song. The more you sing FOR them and less TO them, the more effective your performance will be.

4. Always Warm-Up Your Voice

One of the things vocalists time and time again fail to realize in their rehearsals and auditions is to properly warm-up their voices. Much like how an athlete that needs to fully stretch out their body before entering a game, a singer must stretch the muscles in their vocal cavity to be as musically effective as possible.

Be sure to take ample time to go through all of the warm-ups and vocal exercises you have learned from your vocal coach. This is very important to ensure that you can hit all the notes you need to and acquire consistency throughout the song.

There’s more to warming up your singing voice than you may think. For example, reciting tongue twisters are a great way to practice syllable annunciation. Be sure to try more outside-of-the-box vocal warm-ups to increase your vocal effectiveness.

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Tips for Pre-Recorded Auditions

In many cases, vocal competitions will require you to send in an audition video in lieu of a live performance. This may be a result of limited space in the audition venue, limited time with the judges, or due to the sheer amount of auditionees that can’t possibly be given the chance to perform live.

Make no mistake, pre-recorded auditions are not necessarily easier than live ones. Sure, you’re able to record yourself as many times as you need, but in turn, the judges are able to play your tape over and over again. If you make a mistake, a simple rewind will allow the judges to hear it again.

With that said, pre-recorded auditions can be powerful when done right. Let me show you some tips on how to make an impact on the judges via a video performance.

1. Create a Performance

One interesting thing about the major singing competitions, such as The Voice, is that their video submission guidelines are straightforward, and yet they leave room for creative freedom. With that freedom afforded to you, you should create a performance video.

For this, have your camera set up with a view of a stage, makeshift stage, or perhaps even just curtains. Whether you’re able to record in a large auditorium or a small bedroom, make the best of the environment to boost your performance.

A performance is only supplemented by how well a singer can act. You need to make sure that your performance resonates with the audience behind the camera lens, which is a great reason why singers should learn how to act.

2. Eye Contact and Connection

While performing in front of the camera, understand that your audience lies behind the camera lens. You must therefore create an artificial connection toward the camera by engaging your eyes, facial expressions, and body language. Maintaining eye contact is an important facet of how to sing with confidence.

The best way to find this connection is through a couple methods: record and review your interactions with the camera or ask someone to stand behind the camera so you may sing to them. Performing in front of someone else is good practice for suppressing your nerves and building your confidence.

These tricks can help you see what’s working in your performance and what’s not.

3. Stay Loose!

With a lens in front of us, many vocalists tend to lock up and become methodical, robotic, or in layman’s terms, fake. We may lose the natural tenor of our speaking voice when introducing ourselves, or we may rush to get our words out and muddle our speech in order to meet the time requirements.

That nervous energy is then transferred into our performance, which we know isn’t the best performance we’re capable of giving. Be sure to keep yourself loose before the camera turns on. You’ll be more relaxed if you practice your introduction and conclusion, and use the natural cadences in your speaking voice to keep you grounded as you move into your vocal performance.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to rock your vocal audition!

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2016 Online Singing Contests

Ready to enter? Here are some competitions to look into, most of which are online singing contests that you can enter no matter where you live. Some of them do require travel if you advance to the next round, so be sure to check out the details on the contest’s website.

Young Arts

  • Cash awards of up to $10,000
  • Must be a U.S. resident, age 15-18, or in grade 10-12
  • Submit an online application through National Young Arts website
  • Apply here

Song Door

  • Must be 16+ to enter
  • Submit your song online, along with your $10 entry fee
  • Enter here

New Song Contest

  • Open to anyone 18+
  • Submit your song online, along with your $30 application fee
  • Enter here

Mid-Atlantic Song Contest

  • No criteria currently given, check back later

Fox’s Next Empire Artist

  • Must be a U.S. resident, 18+
  • Submit a video performance of your solo or group act
  • Enter here

Song of the Year

  • Must be a U.S. resident, 18+
  • Submit your song online and pay the entry fee (varies)
  • Enter here

Unsigned Only

  • Must be amateurs 18+, younger entrants may enter with parental permission
  • Submit your song and lyrics online or through the mail, along with $30 per entry
  • Enter here

Paramount Song Contest

  • Please contact contest officials for more information
  • Enter here

American Traditions Competition

  • Must be 21+ to enter
  • Submit three songs from the categories listed on the contestant information page, and pay the entry fee of $55
  • Apply here

Hal Leonard Vocal Competition

  • All ages welcome
  • Submit a video recording
  • Enter here

Classical Singer Competition

  • Open to anyone 14+
  • Two song submission by video recording online, by mail, or audition in person, along with $85 entry fee
  • Register here

The American Prize

  • Open to U.S. residents 18+
  • Send in 3-5 recordings of arias to the email below, along with $40 entry fee and form
  • Enter here

Schmidt Competition

  • Open to high school sophomore, juniors, and seniors
  • Complete your application and pay the $45 entry fee, then perform three musical compositions live from one of the locations listed
  • Apply here

Texas Troubador

  • Anyone is welcome to enter, but finalists will be asked to travel to Clifton, TX
  • Submit one to three original songs, along with application and entry fee
  • Apply here

Singist Online Singing Contest

  • Submit a video (see guidelines on their page) and users vote on the winners
  • Contest re-starts each month

SingSnap Online Karaoke Competitions

  • Join the SingSnap network to upload videos, meet other singers, and share your talents

American Protege

  • Anyone five or older can enter (varies by category)
  • Send a video recording, $200 application fee, and application form
  • Enter here

American Guild of Music regional contests

  • Open to students with 3 months to 12 years of music study, up to age 21
  • Your teacher must be an American Guild of Music member to participate
  • Regional contests are held throughout the year; see website for details and upcoming dates

The Voice Auditions

Singing Contests for Kids

If your son or daughter has an interest in the spotlight, a few of the singing contests listed above are open to youngsters. However, it’s a good idea to start with voice lessons to help build their confidence and refine their voices before entering. And of course, make sure to show your support along the way, no matter how they place!

Singing Contests for Teens

Singing competitions can be a great resume-booster and wonderful experience if you’re thinking of pursuing a music degree or a career in music. Getting as much performance experience as you can is key! Check out the age restrictions on the singing contests listed above, or check with your teacher for local competition recommendations.

Additional Resources for Singing Contests

Readers, do you know of other singing contests for teens, singing contests for kids, or singing contests for all ages? Leave a comment and let us know the details!

MiltonJPost Author: Milton J.
Milton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

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how to overcome stage fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage performance is a challenging art form. Whether you’re acting out a role in a musical theatre setting, giving a speech in front of a crowd, or even playing a solo at an open mic night, the experience can be nerve-wracking even for seasoned performers.

It can be even more anxiety-inducing if you’re a perfectionist, as that can breed a fear of failure… and from there, performance anxiety can feel even stronger.

Performance anxiety (commonly referred to as stage fright) can devastate a performer’s career and enjoyment of their craft, but it doesn’t have to — performance anxiety is a normal human reaction and a completely curable condition if given the right resources, patience, and support system. This article is a guide to learning how to overcome stage fright, for anyone who may experience it — musicians, actors, dancers, speakers, educators, and students. If you wish to understand and improve anxiety issues that are holding you back from giving your best performances, read on!

What is Stage Fright?

Let’s start with anxiety, which is defined as a feeling or worry, nervousness, or unease about an upcoming event. Most people have experienced some level of anxiety before, during, or after a performance, speech, sports game, or test. Anxiety differs from fear in that fear addresses a present threat, while anxiety is typically felt in relation to something in the future. Anxiety is a normal, healthy human experience and, in small doses, is beneficial in making decisions and in achieving peak success.

Performance anxiety (stage fright) in particular is nervousness or unease about a specific future event in which you will be required to execute a task, such as a song, a scene, speech, or test — and usually when you’ll be in front of an audience. Symptoms may be present during the task, for weeks or months leading up to it, and sometimes after the event is over.

So, how do you get over stage fright? Even most experienced performers feel anxiety, so it’s more a process of learning how to deal with stage fright. Here are the steps I recommend.

dealing with stage fright - step 1

Knowing if you are truly experiencing anxiety is critically important, as it’s the first step toward understanding and overcoming it. If you have experienced a few or many of the following symptoms before or during a performance situation, you are experiencing stage fright:

  • Excessive sweating (typically in the palms, feet, armpits or face, but could be anywhere)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chills, hot flashes, or sudden changes in body temperature
  • Shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, or hyperventilation
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Racing thoughts, obsessive fear of failure during the task
  • Inability to concentrate or process logical information
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urge to use the bathroom
  • Inability to make small talk or hold a basic conversation
  • Shakiness, especially in the hands
  • Sensitivity lights, sounds, or textures in the environment

As you can see, this list of sensations is not only unpleasant, but makes performing at your best nearly impossible. Fear of failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  • Look at the list of anxiety symptoms, and make a mental checkmark next to the ones that you have felt during performance situations.
  • Note when it happened, how often, and any other details you remember. Are your symptoms limited to a specific few, or all of them? Are there symptoms you’d like to solve first as a priority, before others?

Now go back next to each symptom that you’ve checked, and rate it on scale of 1-10 as to how severe it felt (1 being hardly felt it, 10 being you felt it so much you couldn’t concentrate on anything else).

If you are seeing numbers in the 1-4 range, it’s likely that you are experiencing normal, healthy jitters that can actually add to your performance by making you more focused. If you are seeing numbers in the 5-10 range, you are experiencing moderate to severe stage fright and should read on to discover strategies for improvement.

dealing with stage fright - step 2

Before you can properly map a route to overcome stage fright, it’s important to know where you’ve been — and what has caused stage fright in the past. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you are experiencing stage fright, how they might contribute to your present challenges, and how you can utilize them most effectively.

Start by asking yourself some questions about your performing career, starting from the very, very beginning, which might include childhood memories or more recent situations depending on your age.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  1. Recall the first time you performed for an audience, formally. Who was there? What thoughts and feelings do you remember? Were you happy with the outcome of the performance? Was it a positive or negative experience, was it stressful or relaxed?
  2. Recall the first time you performed and experienced anxiety (if different from above). What were the circumstances? Who was there? Did you practice or prepare, and how much? If different from #1, what do you think sparked anxiety if there were previous performances that didn’t?
  3. Recall the next few times that you performed, after #2 above. Ask yourself the same questions and look for patterns.
  4. Recall the 2-3 most recent times you performed. How recent was it? Have you purposely avoided performing in recent circumstances due to fear? Were you with a large group, small ensemble or solo? Were there any post-performance experiences worth noting?
  5. From the above questions, look for patterns. Are there any pivotal events that dramatically changed the course of your performance history? Are there any key people, venues, or pieces that contributed to where you’re at today?

dealing with stage fright - step 3

The next step is re-contextualizing key anxiety triggers so that they don’t continue causing problems. Most people can identify one or two key incidents that left a large impact on their self-esteem.

Maybe it was a teacher giving an aggressive critique, a family member telling you not to quit your day job, or a performance in which you froze on stage and ran off crying.

At the time you may not have realized the impact of this key event, but in hindsight you can see that it has undermined your confidence and affected your ability to perform ever since.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

The mind is powerful and can distort memories, making them seem bigger and nastier than they really were in real life. As far as exercises that can help you deal with stage fright, this is a great one to try. Pick one of your key incidents that is particularly painful or memorable and jot a few notes about it to the facts:

What venue were you performing in?
What piece were you performing or practicing?
Who was watching?
What feedback were you given, either verbal or non-verbal?
How did you react? Did you shout, cry, freeze up, or laugh it off?
If you responded verbally, what did you say?
What did you do after the event?

Re-Contextualizing the Event

Now let’s bring some imagination to it: sometimes taking the gravity out of a memory and bringing it into a lighter, if not humorous, context can be extremely healing. By re-contextualizing this event, you are not dismissing it or minimizing its impact, but re-framing it in a more positive, lighthearted perspective. By giving your brain a new way to interpret it, you will begin to move past it and no longer allow it to block your present performance opportunities. Jot a few notes in response to the following:

If you could go back and re-live this event, what would you do differently?
Is there anything positive that has come out of the negative memory?

dealing with stage fright - step 4

We’ve spent the preceding sections of this guide processing your past. Now it’s time to move into the present and start thinking about what you can do now, and in the near future, to overcome stage fright.

There is no magic formula, unfortunately; you must expose yourself – you must perform, perform, perform, and this is known as exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a fancy name for the common-sense approach known as “facing your fears,” a technique commonly used by psychiatric doctors to treat phobias of all kinds. However, there is an art to exposing yourself to your fears, and it should be done in careful, small, planned doses that gradually lead up to a major milestone.

Create an Exposure Ladder

Exposure ladders are a technique used widely by the medical psychiatric community to treat generalized anxiety, panic disorders, and phobias of all types.

An exposure ladder is a list of activities that lead you gradually to a big goal (such as performing on your city’s biggest stage, for example), with activities ranked from least to most anxiety-provoking. An individual will work up the steps of the ladder, moving on to the next step only after mastering exposure to the current step with little or no anxiety.

You’ll need to create your own customized exposure ladder, starting with #1, which is your first, tiny little step toward performing — something that you could handle right now, today, with little or no anxiety symptoms. Then you’ll move on to #2, and so on, gradually making steps more anxiety provoking as you go, until you’ve reached a final step which is your final performing goal. You can make your final step as big or small as you want, just be honest with your true performing goals.

One precaution: be careful not to create too big of a jump between steps on the exposure ladder. You can repeat a step as many times as needed, in order to master that level with little to no anxiety. Depending on how often you are working on the steps, it might take months or years until you feel you’ve mastered a step, and that’s just fine. Study the example below to help you brainstorm ideas for your own ladder.

Example Exposure Ladder

1. Imagine yourself performing.
2. Perform alone.
3. Record yourself performing a scene or song and watch it without critique.
4. Perform for a supportive partner or friend.
5. Perform a duet or ensemble in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
6. Perform solo in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
7. Perform a duet or ensemble at a venue that is higher caliber, like a talent show for your class at school, a neighborhood barbeque, or karaoke at a bar.
8. Perform solo within the same circumstances in #7.
9. Perform with a semi-professional ensemble, such as an audition-only community chorus or community theatre.
10. Arrange an opportunity to perform solo for your peers or an audience, within the group you’ve identified in #9.
11. Enter a competition.
12. Continue finding opportunities similar to #11 with gradually higher caliber venues (or even paying gigs!).

dealing with stage fright - step 5

Once you start working the steps on your exposure ladder, there are going to be successes, and also setbacks. It’s important to arm yourself with relaxation techniques so that when setbacks occur, you have a strategy in place to deal with them in a healthy way. Try these:


Find a quiet space, sit or lay in a position that is comfortable enough to sustain for 10 minutes minimum, close your eyes, and stop thinking. It’s as simple as that; meditation is simply a state of thoughtlessness. Your mind will wander, and when it does, just bring it back to a blank space. If you can commit to meditation as a daily practice for 10-20 minutes, over time you will be able to push aside thoughts that distract you during performances, including anxious thoughts.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Find a quiet space and lay down with your arms naturally at your sides and legs fully extended. Close your eyes. Prepare with three slow, deep breaths. As much as possible, focus all of your attention on the task at hand; don’t let your mind wander. Tense your forehead muscle, holding it as tight as you can for about five seconds. As you do this, inhale and hold the breath while the muscle is tense, and then exhale and breathe normally as you let the muscle relax. Enjoy the relaxed position for about five seconds.

Repeat the above process with the following muscle groups: your face/cheek muscles, neck muscles, shoulders (pull them up and tight), back muscles (pull your shoulder blades back and in), abs/stomach muscles, arms and hands (make a fist while you do this and tense it all the way down to the fingers), glutes, thighs, calves, and then finally feet.

dealing with stage fright - step 6

Acceptance is a final and critical step in learning how to overcome stage fright, as resistance will only make a problem grow stronger. It’s important that you stop criticizing or judging yourself for having fears or challenges on stage, as it is one of the most common types of anxiety, and you are definitely not alone!

Acceptance is not declaring that stage fright is “just a problem you have” and that you’ll have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Acceptance is realizing you have some uncomfortable symptoms that are occurring and allowing the process of change to unfold, even if the process is difficult. Acceptance is allowing setbacks to happen, refraining from self-criticism when they do, and celebrating the small successes along the way.


Public speaking and performances of all types continue to be the number one fear of most adults. By reading this article, you have embarked on a journey that very few are brave enough to take – congratulations are due just for starting!

Your reading has given you initial tools for understanding what stage fright is, how you experience it personally, how your past is affecting your present, and beginning to learn how to deal with stage fright.

Performing is one of life’s great joys and you too can enjoy sharing your unique gifts and stories in front of an audience, free of fear, paralysis, or uncomfortable feelings. Don’t give up, and remember that psychological change is a gradual process. Good luck, and happy performing!

Readers, what other ways have you learned how to overcome stage fright? Let us know in the comments!

How to Overcome Stage Fright Infographic

ErinRPost Author: Erin R.
Erin teaches acting, singing, speaking voice, and more in San Diego, CA. She holds a B.A. from University of Minnesota in Vocal Performance, a M.A. in Education from National University, and has been teaching since 2007. Learn more about Erin here!

Image credit: Kian McKellar

3 Reasons Singers Should Learn How to Act

3 Reasons Singers Should Also Learn How to Act

3 Reasons Singers Should Learn How to ActGreat stage presence can really enhance your performance as a singer! Here, voice teacher Molly R. shares how learning how to act should be on every singer’s to-do list…  


Enviable high notes. A pure tone. Easy vocal runs. Low notes that can carry for days. Flexibility throughout the range. These are just some of the things singers say they want to achieve when they first start voice lessons — among many, many other goals!

As a voice teacher, I do my best to work with them so that they find success in making their voice feel and sound great — but to me, there’s something many singers are missing in their “wish list” to become a better singer: how to really sell your song as a singing actor!

Here are the reasons why it’s so important that a singer also learns how to act.

1) It’s good for your body!

When we stand still, our sound will also be stiff and still. Experiment time: think about something that gets you riled up or giddy with happiness. What does your body do? It moves. It paces, it gestures. It expresses. Nothing is left bottled up.

When we move, the breath and the voice move — simple as that. As a result, the audience gets a more exciting sound, and that’s a very good thing. It’s also a big part of stage presence for singers. We were meant to move and express, not just stand there. That’s not natural! Although, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t practice good singing posture as well.

2) It makes you a true standout.

There are lots of great voices out there, and competition is stiff. What can set you apart from the crowd is if your audition panel or audience really feels a true connection with you! And the only way to get that connection is if you make absolutely sure that you know exactly what you’re singing about.

So don’t treat your songs as mere lyrics — do what the great artists do, and treat each one as a mini play or movie. Create a backstory for your character. Put other characters in your song and visualize them. The more layers you add to your performance, the more compelling it will be. Once you add layers, you’ll be creating a unique and authentic stage presence.

Once in a while we’ll have a challenging song where we say to ourselves, “But I can’t relate to that! I’ve never had my heart broken/been cheated on/had someone I love die/been in love/etc.”

In cases like these, it’s time for you to use your imagination. So maybe you never had a lost love — but everyone’s experienced some sort of sadness! Channel that. Simply sing about about something else you have lost to really bring the authentic emotion to the song.

3) It increases your job prospects!

If you start by learning how to really act your pop or jazz songs, after a while you may feel ready to audition for musical theatre roles, if that interests you! Who knows? After doing some musical theatre and getting some stage time under your belt, you may want to try straight plays!

Singing actors are also meant for the cabaret stage. In these intimate venues, performers string together an eclectic group of songs to tell a story. If you study acting, you’ll feel a lot more at ease about your performance and find it easier to add in the “banter” in between songs that’s essential in this type of performance.

Stage Presence for Singers

There’s no need to feel intimidated by the world of acting if you’re completely new to it. There are many qualified voice teachers and acting teachers on TakeLessons to help you get started! Whether you want to improve your singing or get started with acting, you’re sure to find the right instructor for you.

Additional Resources

Looking for more help? Here are some articles and guides we like:

Singers, have you taken acting lessons? Did it help you with your stage presence? Let us know about your experience in the comments!

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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4 Rock Singers With Great Technique

4 Rock Singers With Great Technique – And 4 Without

4 Rock Singers With Great Technique

Do you love singing rock? Here, voice teacher Molly R. shares her recommendations for four singers to check out for how to sing rock… and four more you can learn from!


When you think about impeccable vocal technique, it’s not often that a rocker comes to mind, is it?

Usually we’re praising the beautiful tone quality, high notes, and volume of an opera singer, or perhaps a jazz or musical theatre vocalist. Rock singers are usually known for their larger-than-life personalities and stage presence over anything else.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t rock singers out there with amazing, healthy voices. Au contraire! Some of the singers listed below are on par with many opera divas and divos as far as technique is concerned; their style just happens to be totally different!

Here is a list of vocalists with great rock singing technique:

Ann Wilson

Now here is my absolute favorite singer of all time — Ann Wilson of the rock band Heart. Yes, I may have studied classical singing but let me tell you, if I had a choice to sound like Renée Fleming or Ann Wilson, I’d definitely choose to sound like Ann!

There’s a reason why they call her the “female Robert Plant.” What a powerhouse she is! First of all, this dynamic performer is in her 60s and sounding better than ever. This is an indication that she has been using reliable vocal technique for decades. She can let loose with killer forte phrases and it sounds powerful, never forced. Why? She connects with her body and doesn’t squeeze her throat!

Ms. Wilson has also studied voice formally to keep herself in good vocal shape. Obviously it’s worked as she has enjoyed a very long career and is still going strong with absolutely no signs of slowing down.

Here she is in 1977, performing live:

Chris Cornell

Mr. Cornell has a rich baritone rock voice that is the envy of many male singers! Although there is only one Chris, male rockers can take a cue from him by taking voice lessons (he studied with the same teacher than Ann Wilson did, in fact!).

In the video below, listen to him singing something fairly unexpected — a ballad! With great vocal technique, a rocker should be able to switch gears and sing something like this with more sensitive phrasing. If you push and scream your way through your rock singing career, you’ll simply shred your voice. Don’t you want longevity, like Chris?

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar is another rocker still going strong in her 60s! Fun fact: She studied classical singing as a young woman and was even offered a spot at Juilliard. Although she chose the rock route, having a reliable vocal technique has kept her singing big rock songs for more than 30 years.

Here she is singing “Heartbreaker” fairly recently. Notice she still has a very clear and powerful tone, especially through her middle range. Long phrases and big notes are no problem for this lady: with her classical training she knows how to support!

Ronnie James Dio

He may no longer be with us, but his amazing rock voice lives on!

Frontman Dio never actually had any formal vocal training. However, he did study as an instrumentalist, and has claimed that his time as a trumpet player gave him excellent breath technique. Not only that, but he loved to listen to opera from an early age.

Clearly the breathing he learned as a trumpet player built up his lung capacity and allowed him to hit full, high notes with ease again and again. He was known as one of the best metal singers ever, and I think you can hear why. This song requires lots of stamina — he’s staying in his upper register for most of it!

Now, what about rock singers who… well… don’t have the greatest technique? There are a few that stand out.

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day has an extremely nasal sound. It always sounds like he is singing completely congested! This is due to the fact that he is not singing with any sort of open throat technique to make a more pleasing, ringing tone. This happens when the soft palate is not raised. Listen here:

Lita Ford had better success as a top guitarist, and to me it’s clear why. Although her big hit “Kiss Me Deadly” is a great song, I can’t help but wonder what it would sound like if she sang it out a bit more fully, rather than yelling or talking-singing most of it.

Remember, there ARE healthy ways to “scream” in rock — but you better find a teacher who specializes in this technique to guide you through it!

In the video below, Sheryl Crow is lacking some serious support, putting out a wimpier, airier sound that’s fairly common in pop and rock. If Sheryl trained with good old-fashioned staccato vocal exercises to strengthen her diaphragm, she’d be sounding a LOT more powerful! She needs to sing with more lower body.

Eddie Vedder has what I’d call an…. interesting sound. More specifically, he is covering! This means he is manufacturing his sound to make it sound darker in tone (usually this happens when the tongue is in the way). In reality, the audience just hears garbled, muddy sound. If one of his main articulators (tongue) is always in the way, no wonder we don’t understand a word he’s singing!

Learn How to Sing Rock

Do you have aspirations to be a strong rock vocalist? There are many teachers on TakeLessons who can help you achieve your goals! Find a singing teacher near your or online, and he or she will work with you to build a solid and reliable vocal technique — no matter what style it is that speaks to you!

Want to learn more about rock singing techniques? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres!
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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A Must-Have Resource for Classical Singers

Review: A Must-Have Resource for Classical Singers

A Must-Have Resource for Classical Singers

Classical singers, listen up! Here’s a resource you absolutely shouldn’t miss, reviewed by voice teacher Molly R


If you teach classical voice, you are probably aware that one of the biggest challenges is accompaniment! We can fake our way through standards and simpler Disney tunes for our other students, but this is not usually the case when it comes to Mozart or Verdi.

And if you are a classical soloist, it’s every bit as frustrating. It can get very costly to hire an accompanist whenever you need to run through your arias and songs. It can also be time-consuming to find someone and schedule rehearsals, find a space, and so on.

So, what’s a classical singer to do?

My Online Resource Recommendation

This is where Your Accompanist comes in. This amazing resource is the classical singer’s dream come true, allowing you to download accompaniment tracks for practically everything you need. I had the opportunity to check out the site, and after spending some time browsing with a few of my voice students, I wondered where this site has been all my life (and my students are asking the same thing!).

How I Use the Site in My Lessons

Your Accompanist has downloadable piano accompaniment to almost every aria and art song you can think of! Even better still: many of the art songs are available in various keys to suit a wider variety of voices.

Here’s how I used the tracks in my lessons:

  • I needed a particular French song for a young soprano student, and we were both so pleased to see they offered it in a key suitable for her higher voice! This is already coming in handy for her as she prepares for a big singing contest. We were also able to find a large number of other things she’d be needing in future lessons, including art songs in German and English.
  • Oratorio is also available, and thank goodness for that! A young countertenor I work with was able to get the aria from “Messiah” he needed instantly, so we could polish it for his upcoming performances.
  • A mezzo student of mine was relieved to finally find the Barber opera aria she needed. I also found several “staples” (classic beginner Italian arias) to download that I knew I’d be using for students later on. And I’ll admit it: I got a few things for me to sing along with, too! In fact, I had a hard time narrowing it down. I wanted to get every mezzo-soprano aria on there!

Since this site is based out of the United Kingdom, old music hall and parlor song favorites are on the site, too — certainly not something you see every day! I was delighted to see such a variety. A student also noticed that the site offered holiday classics. Right away, I knew I needed a few, as December concert time will be here before you know it!

There are a few art songs that I could use, but did not see on the site. However, there’s an option to request that they record what you don’t see. After discovering this option, my students and I started getting together a brief list of songs we may ask for in the future.

Downloading Tracks from Your Accompanist

YourAccompanist screenshot - resource for singers

Downloading and paying for your chosen songs is extremely easy, and playing them back is just as simple. When we found the Faure art song that we needed, all I had to do was press a few buttons and it was in my iTunes library and ready to play for my soprano to sing along to!

My countertenor was a bit worried that his oratorio aria was going to be either too fast or too slow — but before we downloaded we were able to listen to a very helpful sound sample. Now he can rehearse with confidence: with me in the studio, or at home on his own!

As for the accompaniment tracks themselves? Absolutely beautiful! All of the tracks I have used have been sensitively phrased and played most musically. Sound quality is top notch. As my students were singing along, I felt that they were supported by the playing, and not at all overpowered. It’s also so incredibly nice to be able to focus on my students’ singing instead of worrying about my piano playing abilities.

Why This is a Must-Have Resource

One singer of mine told me that she felt that using the Your Accompanist tracks is as close as you can get to having a live accompanist right there with you. How right she is. As I tried some of the accompaniments myself, I felt like I was in my very own recital hall!

So again we ask: where has Your Accompanist been all our lives? Thanks to the Internet, we classical singers and teachers have a tremendous resource available to us. Check it out and see what you think!

Readers, what other websites and singing resources do you use to download accompaniment tracks? Leave a comment below and let us know! 

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

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Techology and online Music lessons

How Has Technology Changed Music Lessons? [Infographic]

Over the past several years, online music lessons have substantially grown in popularity. And it’s no wonder — it’s an option that is convenient and often priced lower than in-person lessons. Plus, you can choose an instructor from practically anywhere!

Advances in technology have made the success of online music lessons possible, but that’s not the only way that technology has changed the way we learn music. New innovations provide fun and creative ways to enhance the learning experience for today’s student. You can find the best online piano lessons, for instance, and then supplement those with apps, games, and YouTube tutorials.

Here are some fascinating facts about how we learn, teach, and promote music online.

Technology and Music Lessons Infographic - Online music lessons

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Teaching Music Online – Additional Resources

Interested in teaching online? These days, you’ve got several options for video platforms to use, allowing you to instantly connect with your student, send files, and record lessons. Learn more about teaching online with TakeLessons here.

Learning Music Online – Additional Resources

Whether you’re looking for the best online piano lessons via Skype, pre-recorded YouTube drum tutorials, or chord charts for guitar and bass, there are so many resources available for students!

Learn Guitar 

Learn Piano

Learn Violin

Learn Drums

Whether or not you take (or teach) lessons online, there are many ways you can use current technology to enhance and supplement the learning experience. If you’re a teacher and need a place to start, online forums are great for sharing ideas with other instructors. The possibilities are endless! And once you start looking, it’s amazing what you can find out there!

Special thanks to online piano teacher Crystal B. for her help with this article! 

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MO - What Does it Mean to Be a Classically-Trained

What Does it Mean if a Singer is Classically Trained?

MO - What Does it Mean to Be a Classically-Trained

What do you think of when you see the words “classical singing?” Perhaps opera comes to mind? Here, vocal instructor Molly R. explains what being classically trained really means and how it can be applied to any genre of singing…


Suppose you’re a rock or pop singer looking for a voice teacher — while some teachers may stress that they’re all about rocking or teaching a certain vocal method in their bios, many of them mention being classically trained. With that said, what does it mean to be a classically-trained singer? Will it help you achieve the sound you want?

I’m a classically-trained singer. I received my degree in vocal performance after studying a healthy diet of art songs, oratorios, and opera arias. Now that I’m a voice teacher, I find myself counting the number of my classical singing students on just one hand! The rest of my students sing commercial music styles — metal, pop, R&B, and others.

The bottom line is that in order to sing healthfully, you should use the classical technique. Although, this is a different ballgame from classical STYLE.

Classical Technique vs. Classical Style

Classical technique is a lot less complicated than it sounds. To learn this technique, a few things must happen. First, we must breathe and support very low on our bodies – this is coupled with proper balance and posture. Next, we must sing clear, round vowels with an open throat. These are the principles I was most focused on as a young classical singer, tackling songs from the greats like Puccini, Schubert, Barber, and more. Any singing style or genre could surely benefit from these practices, right? That’s exactly right!

Classical style comes from artistic choices you make when you sing. For example, you may choose to be a little breathy in a lower register for a sultry jazz tune, or you may make the sound sassier, brighter, and more “in your face” (literally!) if you’re belting a Broadway song. In rock, we don’t sing the words out nearly as full as we do in an aria — it’s much more conversational.

(Editor’s Note: For more on different styles, check out our Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres!)

Use a Healthy Mix

Putting together the classical technique with your preferred style is where it’s at, as far as I am concerned! A healthy singing technique and a rockin’ style are the best of both worlds. Don’t assume that all classically-trained teachers won’t welcome other genres, because many of us do! In fact, rock was my first love.

Sharing what I know from the classical world has helped my rocker students feel a lot more confident in their abilities. They’ve mentioned an increase in stamina after long rehearsals and gigs because they breathe and support just like the opera singers do (and those singers have a lot of singing to do — talk about vocal athletes!). They realize they need not scream or push to produce a lot of good sound.

Classical vocal training also stresses the importance of a good warm-up and being mindful of proper vocal hygiene. Although, I wouldn’t suggest sticking to a regimen of solely vocal exercises in lessons. Do spend time doing exercises that cover a variety of vocal skills, including flexibility, diction, breath control, and dynamics. All of these things can and should be applied to your songs, whether they’re classical Mozart arias or metal Judas Priest covers!

Apply it to Any Genre

I hope these facts will ease your fears about your classically-trained teacher “turning you into an opera singer.” Good teachers are respectful of your preferred styles of music and should never consider turning you into someone you’re not. Quality voice teachers want the best for all of their students and want to ensure many years of healthy singing. The classical technique can do that for you, regardless of the styles you choose to sing.

As an example of a legendary rock star who was classically trained, check out Pat Benatar. She’s still rockin’ and sounding great in her sixties because she was taught solid classical technique on Brahms art songs long before she was a “Heartbreaker”!

Classically-Trained Pop and Rock Singers

A few pop and rock singers have studied the classical technique, believe it or not! In addition to Pat Benatar, Madonna (after she made it big) worked with a teacher on the “24 Italian Songs” to prepare for her role in “Evita.” Lady Gaga worked on classical technique every day for six months to prepare for her big “Sound of Music” medley at the Oscars.

Contrary to popular belief, metal singer extraordinaire Ronnie James Dio did NOT take vocal lessons, but he did say he was greatly influenced by the singing style of tenor and great singer Mario Lanza!


I can safely say that my classical training has improved my singing across every genre I’ve attempted. It’s the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to learn a healthy and correct singing technique. Apply what you’ve learned from classical training to any genre you want and you’ll be unstoppable! Happy singing!

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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The Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles (Red)

The Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres

The Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles (Red)

There are so many different singing styles and genres out there — how do you keep track of them? What are the best vocal exercises for singers of each genre? Music teacher Heather L. answers these questions and more in this ultimate guide…


We, as human beings, have been singing since we discovered that we had voices. Of course, a lot about singing has changed since that time. Different cultures around the world through the centuries came up with their own scales and modes, and different types of music and singing emerged.

These styles, or genres of music, are just as diverse and varied as the cultures themselves. Each genre has its own special characteristics that make it different from others, and each genre presents unique challenges for singers. Here’s a list of the most common genres of music, and how to sing each one.

But first:  Take our quiz to find out what genre you’re destined to sing!


If music is food, then pop is candy. It’s fun, but not necessarily funny. Romantic, but not overly sentimental. With dance and rhythm at its heart, pop music has dominated a lot of American music over the past 30 or so years, and many singers have come and gone. But several have come to be considered the greatest entertainers of all time: Whitney Houston, Madonna, Prince, and the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Pop Singers

  • Learn how to control your vibrato without tension.
  • Experiment with different vocal sounds, like short, popping sounds and fast runs.
  • Focus on improving your movement on stage and take dance lessons, if necessary.

Famous Pop Singers

  • Tori Kelly

Tori chose a really high key for this song. She also chose to accentuate the lyrics of the song with a short, light texture in her voice. That kind of texture makes everything easier to sing in your high register.

  • Whitney Houston

At 2:05 in this video, Whitney uses a fast run on the end of the word “all.” Notice how she doesn’t make it overly dramatic and uses those runs only a few times in the song. Sometimes, too many runs can be distracting from the song’s message.

  • Bruno Mars

Bruno sings tenderly because it’s a tender song. His voice is so free of tension that he seems to float up into his falsetto.



You might be surprised to learn that rock is a grandchild of the blues. After it became heavier and more dance-ably rhythmic, the music began to “rock” — and rock and roll was born! It grew up to become rougher and edgier, and now, rock vocal sounds are as diverse as in any other genre.

Today, rock singers include voices as different as Adam Lambert, Tom Araya of Slayer, James Hetfield of Metallica, and Bono of U2. But that rougher and edgier part of rock has to be, at least in some ways, a defining characteristic of the rock voice. Otherwise, it might be confused with an adult contemporary or pop voice.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Rock Singers

  • Try out different vocal flairs, like a little growling or vocal fry at the end of song sections, but don’t overdo it.
  • Get comfortable singing a huge range of dynamics, from whispers (used sparingly for the health of your voice) to healthy, supported shouting.
  • Don’t be afraid of your own vibrato.

Famous Rock Singers

  • Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury was known for quite a theatrical kind of rock. Notice how easily he transitions from one dynamic to another, using subtlety when it’s needed for effect, and rough growling when the lyrics call for it, like at 2:20.

  • John Fogerty

In a great example of what I call a “defiance rock song,” John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival sings this song with the emotional sense of defiance. He clearly has a hold of being what we now call a “singing actor,” though it’s doubtful that the vocals were planned as such.

  • Ann Wilson

In this video the lead singer of Heart, paying tribute to the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, keeps a true sense of her own voice, but doesn’t change the vocals so much that it’s disrespectful to the original. She’s clearly not afraid of her own vibrato, using it as a tool to accentuate certain lyrics, like at 4:24.



Often considered the most formal and restrictive of all genres of singing, classical and opera singing actually require the greatest amount of freedom. Much of it’s sung with uncontrolled vibrato and total emotional release. It is, however, the least conversational of all genres. Because it lacks the intimacy of that conversational quality with the audience (think folk music), it has the tendency to give audiences the impression of admiring a beautiful painting from afar.

The classical genre includes secular arias and religious oratorios, as well as motets. Opera singing is similar, but it’s part of a stage production, often involving dancing and speaking parts. Think of opera as a musical with classical singing instead of Broadway-style singing.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Opera Singers

  • Don’t try to sound like how you think an opera singer sounds. Sing with an open and free voice.
  • Vibrato sometimes develops over time as we let go of more and more tension. Don’t force it or try to create it.
  • Get a voice teacher. Soon. Opera singing can seldom be taught without a good teacher. 

Famous Opera and Classical Singers

  • Bryn Terfel

In this incredibly dramatic scene from Mozart’s interpretation of the Don Juan story, Bryn Terfel is the actor in the reddish-brown cloak. Watch how intense and exaggerated his facial expressions are throughout the scene.

  • Kiri Te Kanawa

Singing one of the best-loved arias ever written is one of the best-loved sopranos to have ever lived. Amazingly, this performance was given when Dame Te Kanawa was 69 years old. She is an incredible example of how you can sing beautifully through your entire life if you take good care of your voice.

  • Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson’s distinguished career is marked not only by fantastic singing, but also by courageous defiance in the face of racism. After being rejected by the Daughters of the American Revolution for being a black performer, she sang instead for a larger group of supporters, facing the very building that she was banned from. Her voice is flawless, in spite of the shortcomings of the old recordings, but more importantly, her heart can be heard in everything she sings.

In the video above, she sang for a beautiful Christmas program. Notice her alignment. It remains consistent throughout the changes in the song.



An overly simple way to think of the country genre is fancy folk (read: glossy folk pop). But it’s had quite a history through the years, having evolved from Appalachian mountain music, southern blues, country-western and what’s called “honky-tonk.”

I recommending listening to many different country voices so that you don’t get into the trap of imitating only the big voices. Think about how different Carrie Underwood’s voice is from Miranda Lambert’s. Check out the differences between Hank Williams, Jr. and Luke Bryan. And listen to classic singers like Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Country Singers

  • Don’t force a “country” accent. If you listen to a lot of country music, then over time, a natural twang will come when you sing.
  • Become familiar with great storytelling; that’s where country comes from! Listen to professional storytellers on YouTube.
  • Be willing to wear your heart on your sleeve. Audiences love when country singers share their feelings, and your credibility is based on your ability to be genuine.

Famous Country Singers

  • George Jones

In one of the most famous country songs of all time, the irreplaceable George Jones exemplifies the all-important skills of storytelling and a down-to-earth singing style. Notice that there isn’t a lot of vibrato here; it’s almost as if Jones is too busy telling a story to hold out a note and show off!

  • Carrie Underwood

Both this song and this video are great examples of country – images and talk of American home-grown families and open hearts. Carrie, season 4 winner of American Idol, knows just how to use her voice to a song’s advantage. She floats a note (sings it lightly) when it’s a tender moment and then sings with a heavier tone when it’s a heavier moment.

  • Loretta Lynn

The ultimate story song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” was Loretta Lynn’s biggest hit. Is it the personable nature of the lyrics? Maybe. Take note of how similar her speaking voice (at the beginning of the video) is to her singing voice. This can be achieved through the study of something called “speech level singing.”



The blues were born in the American south from the spirituals of slaves and the call-and-response music of the Southern church. Think of jazz as its slightly more sophisticated child who never forgot its roots. Jazz singing is characterized by clear, “speech level” singing and distinct consonants, while blues singing has a rough or rootsy edge to it, sometimes with a natural Southern accent.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Blues and Jazz Singers

  • You can’t sing the blues and jazz right without knowing its history, in your mind and in your heart. Watch Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary and the Thelonius Monk documentary, “Straight, No Chaser.”
  • Experiment with different vocal sounds, like pitch slides and scatting.
  • Study up on your music theory, especially your chromatic scales.

Famous Blues and Jazz Singers

  • Cassandra Wilson

Though she may not be the best-selling jazz artist, Cassandra Wilson is considered by many to be the best living jazz singer. Her voice is perfect for it — rich, thoughtful, and focused. Notice at around 3:05, she begins to use pitch slides, perhaps to accentuate a
rather creepy part of a powerful jazz classic.

  • Sarah Vaughan

Once described as having “one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century,”
Grammy award-winning Sarah Vaughan was known for a sensitive but easy tone. Notice how almost nonchalant she is throughout “Someone to Watch Over Me.” At 2:15, Vaughan effortlessly shows off an impressive vocal range and some great improvisation skills, simply by jumping up to a random note while remaining in the song’s key.

  • Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong is so important to jazz music that most experts agree that it wouldn’t have been developed, or even survived, without his contributions. Now some voice scientists and physicians might point to a few voice pathologies in Louis: that unusually rough voice. But here we have a great example of a singer who loved what he did and knew how to make people feel happy and entertained.


Hip Hop

Hip hop, the heavily rhythmic and rhyming singing that often accompanies rapping and beatboxing, emerged in the 1970s, and has grown steadily in popularity since then. In fact, that popularity has turned into tremendous influence on other singing genres, including pop and country. Its origins are many, but the most apparent are funk, disco, reggae, and the blues. Singers of hip hop are diverse, but the singing generally takes on an edgy, sometimes nasal qualities.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Hip Hop Singers

  • Know hip hop’s musical ancestry. Listen to a lot of funk, disco, reggae, soul, gospel, blues, and old-school hip hop.
  • You don’t have to become a rapper, but get comfortable switching between singing and speaking lyrics to help your versatility.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vocal sounds, like nasality and wordplay, to create your own signature style.

Famous Hip Hop Singers

  • Lauryn Hill

See if you can hear the song’s Spanish and gospel influences. Despite these varied sounds, Lauryn stays true to her own voice, which is stunningly consistent in tone and texture. It’s important to listen to influences with respect, without allowing it to pressure you to imitate anyone.

  • Beyonce

In this heart-stopping acoustic performance of her hit “Halo,” Beyonce has full command of her voice. It’s as if her voice is an arrow, she aims at the bull’s eye, and hits it every time. In other words, her pitch is always right and her transition between the lower register in the verses and the upper register in the chorus is seamless.

  • Cee Lo Green

Originally, the hit “Crazy” was created and released by Gnarls Barkley, a musical duo consisting of rapper and hip hop singer Cee Lo Green and producer Danger Mouse. In this video, Cee Lo sings the song at a much slower tempo than the original, allowing for a lot of time for both the performer and the listener to really think about the meaningful lyrics. Green is a fabulous singer, and here is an excellent example of the courage to reinvent a song, even your very own!

Adult Contemporary

Adult contemporary is such a unique genre, because singers from relatively different genres often get put into this camp as well, or end up here at the height of their career. It’s essentially pop singing, but the lyrics are decidedly grown-up, or “adult.” Think of it as the Mom and Dad of teenage bubblegum pop. You’re not singing, for example, about that “party in the U.S.A.” You’re singing about life’s experiences gone by in the U.S.A., what you’ve learned, and the plans for your future.

Adult contemporary has been called “vanilla,” bland and boring, but often, the most magnificent songs ever are forever embedded in its charts. This means singing at your best.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Adult Contemporary Singers

  • Learn how to sing consistently with a well-supported sound and power will come naturally.
  • Get into the habit of speaking the lyrics of the song out loud before singing them.
  • Don’t add too many effects to your voice; singing with whatever you have, in its truest form, is adult contemporary.

Famous Adult Contemporary Singers

  • Bruce Hornsby

This is a classic example of an adult contemporary theme – the songwriters here are reflecting on their own lives and on life in general. Bruce Hornsby’s easy, almost-nonchalant style comes across as utterly conversational, perfect for singing about down-to-earth themes.

  • Amy Grant

Amy Grant successfully crossed over from contemporary Christian music (which she practically created herself) to pop and adult contemporary. All the while, she never really changed her vocal sound. Throughout this video, she uses dynamics to her advantage to highlight certain words in the lyrics, like at the very end, when she gets tenderly quiet at the last “I will remember you.”


The Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres

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Lists of Musical Genres

Of course, that’s not all! There are so many different styles of music to discover, as well as sub-genres within each category. For a comprehensive list of musical genres, AllMusic is a great resource. We also love this interactive genre map from Every Noise at Once.

Bonus: Take our quiz, What Genre Are You Destined to Sing? (and let us know your results in the comments!) 

Final Words…

Despite all of the ways that genres of music are different, one thing connects them all. All singing, at its very base, is simply sustained speech. And while practice are utterly essential to learning the different styles, just as important is listening to plenty of music, both in that style and in others. And when you listen, remember to keep not only your ears open, but also your heart. That’s what makes us artists.

So there you have it, the ultimate guide to singing styles! There are a lot of styles and genres that I haven’t covered in this guide, which means you can still find the perfect fit for you. If you have additional questions, check in with your singing teacher for help with finding your unique voice. Happy singing!

Readers, what are your favorite genres to sing? Let us know in the comments!

HeatherLPost Author: Heather L.
Heather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL. She is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

Photo by *Shantel*

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