Kids Sing

10 Funny Songs to Sing With Your Kids

Funny Songs That Will Get Your Kids To SingThere is no one in the world who couldn’t use a little more laughter in their lives! And turning that laughter into learning and creativity? Priceless! But how, you might ask? One easy way is to introduce funny songs to sing with your children. Music offers an array of benefits for you and your family–funny songs even more so!

Why Do Funny Songs Work?

Music involves the brain at every level, with exposure increasing verbal and spatial skills, aiding emotional development, and improving body movement and coordination. And when you add silliness to the mix, creativity can be heightened as well. Spontaneously creating your own funny songs to sing boosts language skills, and acting ridiculous can help your child come out of his or her shell!

Also, let’s not forget all the benefits of laughter, such as its ability to boost your immune system and energy level, diminish pain, protect your heart and body from the effects of stress, and much more.

10 Funny Songs to Sing With Your Kids

Beethoven’s Wig
A song about–you guessed it–Beethoven’s Wig! (It’s very big.) Sung to the tune of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, kids will be having too much fun to realize they’re getting exposed to the world of classical music. Looking for more entertaining classics from various artists? This website is a great resource.

The Name Game
You probably drove your parents nuts with this when you were a kid, now it’s time to pass the torch. It’s a great song for boosting language skills in preschool and kindergarten students!

Please Don’t Play Your Violin at Night
Want to incorporate some Mozart into your child’s repertoire? Try this rendition of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

Purple People Eater
It’s a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater–and it’s sure to make your kids laugh.

Oh Where is My Hairbrush?
This and other funny songs to sing by the VeggieTales gang can turn any normal activity or passing thought into a reason to break into song and dance. It may even inspire your own renditions, such as “Oh Where are My Car Keys?” for Mom and Dad, and “Oh Where are My Shoes?” for the kids.

Witch Doctor
Originally created for and recently remade by America’s favorite singing rodents, the Chipmunks, this song is sure to make babies and toddler-aged children giggle.

Yakety Yak
Appropriate for older children, you can poke fun at each other with this 1958 classic. Don’t talk back. Just sing it!

Boom Chicka Boom
The Learning Station offers a wide array of funny songs to sing with your kids as part of their project to promote “healthy music for a child’s heart, body and mind.” Boom Chicka Boom is one of their latest, using tongue twisters and wordplay to boost language development.

Parts of the Body Song
Music is a great educational tool for learning new things,, and you can help your little one learn body parts with this goofy rap song. Once you get through the common body parts, try making up your own more specific verses with your child.

I Didn’t Mean to Burp
Now that you’ve learned the parts of the body, why not move on to the next phase… bodily functions. What more could a kid ask for in funny songs to sing? Feel free to make up your own or dredge up those old campfire faves – just keep them rated PG.

Take It a Step Further…

If your child loves to sing and dance, consider signing them up for private music or singing lessons! Finding funny songs to sing can really help your child identify their love of music. Whether they want to sing or play an instrument, private lessons can help your child hone the skills necessary to excel.

Give your kids the most important gifts of all–the gifts of laughter and learning through music. Incorporate these funny songs into your daily life, and you’ll be creating fantastic memories along the way!

Want more? Find even more songs to sing here!

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Photo by David K

How to Choose the Right Key for Your Song

3 Simple Steps to Choose the Perfect Key to Sing In

How to Choose the Right Key for Your Song

How do you figure out what key you should sing in? Here, Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T. shares the 3 easy steps to make the right adjustments…

 

As a singer, you’re probably well aware of your vocal range. You feel comfortable singing in a particular key, and you know the high notes and low notes you’re going to struggle with. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you’ll always be limited in your vocal repertoire. If you’re singing with a band, you’re lucky in that you can ask your bandmates to play a song in a different key, resulting in a lot more options for songs to sing!

Sometimes, though, finding the appropriate key to sing in can be challenging. And you don’t want to make it any harder on your band! Here are some tips to help you through this process of finding the right key to sing in.

Know Your Range

First things first: you’ll need to know the limits of your vocal range. Picking a song that is too low or too high for your voice will feel very uncomfortable for you to sing, and the audience will likely notice your stress. By knowing the general idea of the highest note you can sing and the lowest note you can sing, you right away should be able to tell when looking at a new piece of sheet music if it will sound good within your voice type. If you’re not sure of how to find your vocal range, start off on the piano, singing up and down the scales, and see where you feel comfortable singing!

How to Find Your Range

Here’s a great video that guides you through the process of finding your range:

Test Out Different Keys

I always try out a few different keys when I am singing a new song. I encourage students to try singing a song in three different keys before you make a decision. You can try singing the song in three similar keys, close in pitch, or challenge yourself and try a lower key or a higher key. Sometimes a song may sound more interesting if it is flipped around. Trying something completely different can give the song a fresh, new element. Have fun with this and explore!

Listen to the Song

After experimenting with a few different keys, I suggest recording yourself and listening to how the song sounds. If you can hear yourself feeling and sounding vocally fatigued, perhaps this key is not for you. If you hear yourself missing notes or not quite reaching them, you will want to try a more comfortable key. These are just some of the indicators that will help you when choosing a good key to sing in.

Listen to your gut as well; if you are feeling any pain or discomfort when singing a song in a particular key, find a more suitable one. I also encourage you to go more in depth with learning about the style of the song you are singing. For example, an opera aria meant for a soprano may not sound the best in a low key like a jazz standard will. For these specific styles, try to stay as true as you can to the song and its original key.

Here’s a recap of the steps for finding the right key to sing in:

3 Simple Steps to Choosing the Right Key (1)

Finding the appropriate key to sing in may take some time and effort, but in the long run it will be worth it! If you need further help, I encourage you to schedule a lesson with a TakeLessons vocal instructor, who can give you guidance on finding the right key for your next audition or performance. Good luck!

 

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

Photo by Nicole Alexandra

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singing in the car

9 Epic (& Hilarious) Examples of Car Singing to Aspire To

Summer is the season of freedom and fun, and whether you’re a parent or a college student on summer break, epic road trips come with the territory. Singing in the car can make running an errand the best part of your day, and when you’re driving for hours at a time, there’s nothing like the energy boost of a car singalong.

The following nine YouTube performances star in-transit singers and lip-syncers who know how to tap into the power of music. From toddlers with potential to superstars backing their own tracks, these music lovers will show you how it’s done.

1. TJ Smith Serenades Roadside Buttercups

TJ Smith is already a working actor and singer, but his “Highway Sing-a-Long” series made him a bona fide YouTube star. If you want to spread joy everywhere you go, follow TJ’s lead, and embrace the contagious, shameless joy of singing in the car with an open window. He isn’t afraid to engage every driver he passes in his energetic rendition of “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations. That’s one way to build up your resistance to road rage!

2. Jennifer Hudson Does Carpool Karaoke with James Corden

She won an Oscar for her work in “Dreamgirls” and came in seventh on “American Idol’s” third season; he held his own in the Sondheim adaptation “Into the Woods” and started his career in a West End musical. But when Jennifer Hudson played “carpool karaoke” with James Corden, the two proved that their talents aren’t restricted to traditional mediums. Jennifer one-ups her own vocals during the eight-minute montage, while James stands in for Iggy Azalea in “Trouble” and channels R. Kelly in a fast-food drive-through.

3. Baby Ella Impersonates Elvis

Adorable Ella Mae wasn’t even two years old yet when she wowed the Internet with her rendition of Elvis Presley’s “An American Trilogy.” The little girl doesn’t just know the words; she also knows how to keep her act entertaining, with heart-melting “Hi, Daddy” asides and a drum-roll of her very own. Right before Elvis brings it home with a bombastic finale, she reminds us to “Get ready!” and plays the air drums like a rock star in training.

4. SketchShe Lip-Syncs Through the Decades

This talented Australian comedy duo earned millions of international fans with their “Mime Through Time” singing in the car montage, which takes place in a parked car but spans decades of musical movements. They start by channeling the Andrews Sisters in throwback pompadours and military uniforms, then move onto iconic looks like Elvis Presley’s rhinestone-studded jumpsuit and Beyoncé’s one-shouldered leotard. They even sing along to The Beatles as kidnapped flower girls, go grunge with some intense Nirvana air guitar, and take everything off as Miley Cyrus.

5. Family Takes on Frozen

Another lip sync success, this video by parents Sam and Nia went viral right in the height of the Frozen frenzy. Our favorite part, however, is their daughter in the back, who doesn’t even seem to be paying attention. Who says family road trips are boring?

6. Greg James & Taylor Swift Lip Sync “Blank Space”

Even talented singers can’t resist the fun of lip syncing! Here, British radio DJ and TV presenter Greg James takes Taylor Swift on an entertaining commute — remember, the more expressions and hand gestures you do, the better (drivers, keep your hands on the wheel!).

7. A Cappella “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

If you’ve ever seen the movie Step Brothers, you probably remember this scene, in which actor Adam Scott’s fictional family takes on an a cappella version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. Just remember, cut the negative talk! Singing the car should be fun, not full of pressure!

8. Drive-Through Mash-Up by Andie Case

Who needs a radio when you have a guitar and a couple of amazing singers? YouTube star and singer-songwriter Andie Case first went viral with her mash-up of “Me & My Broken Heart / Lonely No More”, in which she and her band bring the stage to the car. In this video, she returns with a mash-up of “Want To Want Me” and “I Want You To Want Me” by Jason Derulo & Cheap Trick.

9. Cruising Cop Shakes it Off

The car singalong that started it all wasn’t even staged. Police departments issue dashboard cameras for serious reasons, but the only serious thing about this video is the amount of dedication this on-duty cop puts into his lip-syncing routine. Officer Jeff Davis is happy to “keep cruising” for crime, as he shakes off the haters and puts his whole body into a Taylor Swift singalong. His enthusiasm took the Internet by storm.

Songs to Sing in the Car

Feeling inspired? Although some of the best car karaoke is often an impromptu thing, longer road trips call for a perfectly-crafted road trip playlist — songs you can sing along to, dance along with, and all-around make a fool of yourself. Now’s not the time to be shy!

Nervous about unrolling the windows and sharing your voice with fellow drivers at that red light? Working with a singing instructor can help you improve your voice, whether you’re blasting Joan Jett or Miley Cyrus (no judgement). As you head from one destination to the next, music will transform your mood and make memories good enough to go viral — just like these epic examples of singing in the car.

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Repertoire Ideas for the Changing Male Voice

What Are the Best Songs to Sing for Boys?

Repertoire Ideas for the Changing Male Voice

What are the best songs for boys going through puberty, dealing with those inevitable voice breaks and cracks? Find out in this guest post by voice teacher Molly R...

 

The adolescent years are difficult no matter what. There is a lot of pressure to be accepted and seen as “cool” by your peers, and it seems as though these young people are always riding a roller coaster of emotions!

As if it weren’t already hard enough to select vocal repertoire, boys around the ages of 12 to 15 face another challenge: the changing voice. As the body goes through puberty, these young singers may experience voice breaks and cracks.

Many young male singers have been conditioned to believe that the head voice (where they have sung as an unchanged treble voice) is no longer acceptable, as it’s perceived as feminine. So what, instead, should he sing?

If a young male singer feels this way, one strategy is to simply start using only a small part of his emerging range, which is part of his chest/modal voice. It is suggested that young male singers vocalize and select repertoire in this smaller range to avoid embarrassment (yep, your typical cracks and squeaks expected from this age!) and vocal strain. The range suggested is about an octave.

Below are a few tips and suggestions for songs for boys to sing during this time.

Reach for a Classic.

A good example is the standard “What a Wonderful World”, made famous by Louis Armstrong. The vocal range is very small and can be easily transposed up or down to fit a singer’s vocal range. This song has been sung successfully by singers of all ages and skill levels, and it is a good piece to know for any occasion.

For the rock fans out there, Beatles songs are also a good idea. The vast Lennon/McCartney catalog has options for everyone. Although some songs have a large range (such as “Yesterday”), faster songs with a driving beat are solid, fun choices with a smaller vocal range. For example, “Drive My Car” is a great choice:

Same with “All My Loving” and “I Saw Her Standing There”.

These are all wonderful songs for boys to sing, as both John and Paul were tenors, the higher male voice.

Lastly, don’t forget Ringo! His “talkier” style will still allow a young rocker with a changing voice to have a blast singing while growing in confidence. “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Octupus’s Garden” are great tunes to know, and younger kids love singing these songs, as well. Check out “Octopus’s Garden” here:

For Musical Theatre Singers, Check Out the Show “13”.

This quirky musical by Jason Robert Brown is just wonderful, as it pokes fun at the awkwardness that comes with this trying time in life! In fact, this was the first Broadway show to include all teenagers in the cast. My students adore this hilarious show!

One of the show’s standout solos is “Becoming a Man”:

Try Classical Music Tunes.

I have found the books “Easy Songs for the Beginning Tenor” and “Easy Songs for the Beginning Baritone/Bass” by Joan Frey Boytim to be absolute essentials! The range of all of these songs is within an octave, and a young male singer may find himself choosing from both books until it’s clear what voice type he is. Ms. Boytim did a fine job selecting classic repertoire (spirituals, folk songs, and art songs) that is accessible to young singers. The art songs have been translated into English.

Tips for Teachers – Working With a Changing Voice

Vocal coaches must be very careful with these young men, as they may have a sensitive ego. You may want to use this time to build other important skills, as well. For example, all musicians can benefit from learning basic music theory!

Tips for Students – Dealing With Voice Breaks

Parents, if you have a young male singer at home around this age who isn’t yet working with a voice teacher, TakeLessons is the perfect place to start! Once you have selected the right teacher for you, he or she can help guide him through this time and emerge with healthy technique – and interesting repertoire, too!

For the students out there, don’t even think about quitting! Some boys and their teachers may think it’s best to put singing on hold while the voice changes. However, singing has many benefits that come into play even if you’re struggling. Keep singing, just using songs like the ones listed above, with a smaller vocal range.

Finally, be patient. Every singer is different. Some boys will have a changed voice sooner than the rest and end up with a very full sound. Your voice is unique and some voices bloom later than others. Males don’t have a truly formed adult voice until their early 20s!

Stay positive, and don’t get discouraged. You’ll eventually find your way!

Want even more song ideas? Check out our roundup of 400+ songs to sing here!

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 Barry Lenard

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popular karaoke songs

6 Struggles Only Karaoke Enthusiasts Understand (in GIFs)

6 Struggles Only Karaoke Enthusiasts Will Understand

Love karaoke? And by that we mean… borderline obsessed? Is it your first suggestion for a birthday get-together? Do the karaoke hosts at your local bar know you by name… and get concerned when you don’t show up? Are you first on stage, while your friends hide in the corner slowly sipping their liquid courage?

Yep, we know the feeling.

Even if it takes you forever to browse the book and pick the perfect song to sing, it’s all worth it when you take the stage, grab the mic, and hear the roaring cheers of your fans (er, friends).

If you know your local karaoke spot’s song catalog by heart, karaoke isn’t just a late-night whim for you. It’s a hobby that unleashes the natural performer inside you, daring you to take risks and win over crowds. If you’re a karaoke enthusiast like us, we bet you can relate to these six struggles…

1. YouTube swallows your weekends whole.

Most people imagine the karaoke life as a series of parties, bars, and amateur contests. However, you do most of your singing at home. YouTube is full of popular karaoke songs, complete with scrolling lyrics, so it’s easy to warm up with a few of your favorites. But before you know it, hours have passed and you’re down a sing-along rabbit hole. The Internet is a great place to practice, but if you’re not careful, you’ll lose track of real-life karaoke, with its far superior sound systems and energetic live audiences.

2. You have nightmares about losing your thumb drive.

Once upon a time, people burned their favorite popular karaoke songs onto CDs and handed them to KJs. Today, you can fit thousands of custom-edited and privately purchased karaoke songs onto one flash drive. However, if you’ve ever fished around for your USB drive in a dark pub, you know this convenience is a double-edged sword. If your competition has your playlist of karaoke songs, there goes the element of surprise.

3. You take notes while listening to the radio.

You can’t help it. When you’re driving to work or school, streaming an online radio station, or listening to a friend’s music collection, you’re constantly on the lookout for popular karaoke songs to sing. Are those lyrics fun and easy to hear? Is the beat recognizable? Do you think you can match the singer’s voice? Should you go scrambling for the rest of their collection, hoping to find that perfect track for the next karaoke night? Without fail, listening to music always results in karaoke brainstorms.

4. Reality show judges make you want to scream.

When you watch singing shows like “American Idol,” “X Factor,” or “The Voice,” you can’t help but critique the amateur singers who somehow get a national platform for their mediocre mimicry. And it’s inevitable: With every new season of yet another televised singing competition, a few more talent-less wannabes are kicked out of tryouts because they “belong in a karaoke bar.” Ironically, the judges are usually music-industry veterans who profit every time you sing a song they recorded or produced. Why, then, do they insist on using karaoke as a punchline?

5. To alter or not to alter: That is the question.

Some karaoke machines can raise or lower a song’s key, to better match your own voice with the singer’s. You’ve been around long enough to know how divisive this issue is, and you may even have a firm opinion about whether or not it’s a legitimate way to perform. However, there’s no denying the appeal of a guaranteed harmony, digital or otherwise.

6. Practice doesn’t always make perfect.

Successful “self-taught” singers are few and far between for a very good reason: singing takes more than just talent. If you want to master the nuances of singing for a live audience, you’ll need to train your vocal cords with exercises that make it easier to breathe, stay on key, remember the lyrics, and sing with emotion. A private vocal coach or singing instructor can work with you to hone your singing talents and tweak your performance style.

Karaoke Tips: Picking the Best Songs to Sing

Remember… picking the best song isn’t always about choosing from the most popular karaoke songs of all time. If you want to avoid embarrassing mistakes, you’ll want to select a song that suits your voice (i.e. your vocal range and stylistic tendencies), your personality, and also your audience! Are you at a grungy dive bar? Might be best to save “Genie in a Bottle” for another time.

Also, remember that singing karaoke is all about having fun! If you’re nervous, it’s much easier to pick a song your genuinely enjoy singing before breaking out the high notes and fancy riffs.

For specific recommendations, check out our list of fun songs to sing at karaoke!

Additional Karaoke Resources

Need more karaoke tips and inspiration? Here are few other websites to check out:

  • The Karaoke Channel — This website offers thousands of professional, re-recorded hits available for download, along with a community forum and a mobile app to take with you on the go.
  • Karaoke Version — Another great resource for finding instrumental tracks to sing along to.
  • Sunfly Karaoke — Offers more than 13,000 karaoke tracks available for download or via a personalized karaoke disc.
  • RedKaraoke — Feeling shy? These apps work with your iPhone/iPad, Android device, or SmartTV to start the party, without ever leaving the house!
  • Ace Karaoke — Need karaoke equipment, like amps, cables, stage lighting, or mics? Find it all here!

Readers, anything you’d add to this list? What are your favorite karaoke songs to sing? Leave a comment below and let us know!

 

Photo by Richard Sunderland

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Singing Apps

7 Must-Download iPhone Apps Every Singer Needs

Singing Apps

Believe it or not, your iPhone can help you become a better singer! There are many apps that you can download for little to no cost to help you with your music training and use in between your singing lessons. First up, here are four recommendations for iPhone and iPad singing apps from Brooklyn, NY voice teacher Liz T...

VoCo Vocal Coach

It’s hard for us singers to find the time and space to warm up our voices when we are constantly on the go between voice lessons or auditions. But with VoCo Vocal Coach, you can take the app’s warm-up exercises with you wherever you go – for free! I like this app because it has a variety of interesting warm-ups, including scales and arpeggios. Using the speakers built into your iPhone, you can sing along with the tracks, plug in your headphones, or sync your phone to your car’s stereo system. You can arrange basic vocal warm-ups to start and then work your way up to a more advanced level. Also, you are able to adjust the range of where you want your warm-ups to start, depending if you are an alto, soprano, tenor, bass, etc.

In addition to the app’s audio demonstration for each exercise, it actually shows you a visual of the warm-up, as well. Lastly, there is also the option to purchase additional warm-ups through the app.

VoCo

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Keyboard Apps

I highly suggest downloading a piano app if you are a singer, because you never know when you are going to need your first starting note or need to hear a chord before you perform. There are many great piano apps that will display a visual of a piano keyboard, and you can click any note you want to hear (sort of like your own personal pitch pipe!). One example is Touch Piano!, a free app available from the iTunes store. This is a great app to have right before you go on stage to perform or in the audition room, especially if you have to sing a cappella. You want to make sure you are singing on key and that your first note is on pitch!

Touch Piano

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Ear Worthy

As a singer, it’s important to always keep up with your ear-training exercises. It can be boring, but to be a professional singer, it’s important that you can hear the difference between high and low pitches, and if you’re singing in tune or out of tune. Lucky for you, the free Ear Worthy App can help you do just this! This app makes learning basic ear-training skills fun and simple, and it challenges you at the same time.

Ear Worthy

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Music Tutor

This fun, free app will strengthen your sight-reading skills. Using the app’s timer, you will be challenged to identify as many notes in both bass and treble clef as you can within 60 seconds. If you really feel up to a challenge, it also has the option to do this with the solfège method! The great thing about this app is that the more you use it, the quicker you will become at sight reading.

Music Tutor

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Practice Center App

Created by professional musicians for professional musicians, this app will help you get the most out of your practice routine! Designed for the iPad, the app can be downloaded for $4.99, and it allows you to actually video record your practice session. When recording the video, you have the option to save it and view it later, or even upload it and send it to friends! It’s great to record yourself singing, so that you can listen back and hear things that you need to improve on. The app also has several built-in features, such as a stopwatch, metronome, and tuning notes.

Practice Center 2

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Still want more options? Grand Rapids, MI voice teacher Elizabeth B. also shared her recommendations with us, and how she uses technology with her students:

One of my main goals is to help teach my students the fundamentals of music in a fun way. None of my students gets to work on songs until they have a basic understanding of notes, rhythm, and solfège. This can get really tedious. And if it isn’t fun, what’s the point? These apps have helped make learning the “nuts and bolts” easy and fun, and are great for beginners and advanced students alike.

Here are Elizabeth’s top picks for singing apps…

NoteWorks

An app I have enjoyed with my students has been NoteWorks. The graphics are great for younger students, and the music track on the home screen is pretty fun, as well. The home screen allows you to choose your level, and shows you the range of notes on the staff you’ll need to identify, as well as the speed of the notes. There is also a “help” option, which is awesome for true beginners.

When you’re ready, hit play! The notes will float from right to left on the staff, and there is a keyboard below. There is a small crab that eats the notes as you identify them. The goal is to not let the notes hit the train at the end, because it gets power from them reaching the end of the line, and the train progresses forward, ending the game if you’re not quick enough. If you’re using the help option, the correct note on the keyboard will light up in green. I’ve encouraged several of my students to play this game in their practice time, and I have found it to be quite effective in their recognition of notes on the staff, as well as the keyboard.

singing apps

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Theta Music Trainer

Another singing app I have enjoyed using myself is Theta Music Trainer. The free version has been just fine for my purposes, although there are several other options. The categories include sound, pitch, rhythm, scales, and intervals. There are dozens of games and activities to keep students occupied for hours, and the best part is that they are truly fun!

One game I’ve enjoyed within Theta is in the Melody category: Parrot Phrases. The game starts with a tip or hint to begin, and then plays the scale for you. After you have the scale in your ear, the parrot plays the three notes you need to identify, and you play them back on the keyboard.

Like NoteWorks, I enjoy the integration with the piano, which helps students identify the notes on the keyboard, as well as the notes using solfège. This game is one that I would use with a student who is more advanced with their knowledge of solfège. If I wanted to tailor this game to a beginner student, I would sing three notes on a vowel and then have the student sing them back on the same vowel, and then try to identify the solfège.

singing apps

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These fun and affordable singing apps prove that you can always find a time and place to warm up and practice your theory. Whether you’re in between voice lessons, waiting in the wings for an audition or performance, or even just jamming with friends, you can use them with you on the go.

Readers, what other singing apps do you love? Leave a comment below, and let us know!

Post Authors: Elizabeth B. and Liz T.

ElizabethBElizabeth B. teaches Broadway singing, opera voice, and music performance in Grand Rapids, MI.  She has a Bachelor of Music from Grand Valley State University and her Master of Music from Chicago College of Performing Arts. Elizabeth has been teaching students since 2011. Learn more about Elizabeth here!

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

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How to Nail the National Anthem - 5 Singers Who Got it Right

How to Sing the National Anthem: 9 Videos You Can Learn From

How to Nail the National Anthem - 5 Singers Who Got it Right

The Star-Spangled Banner is one of the most recognizable songs out there — no doubt you’ve heard it dozens of times! It’s also a song that requires a lot of vocal finesse and skill. Here, St. Augustine, FL teacher Heather L. shares nine performance videos, what you can learn from them, and tips for singing the national anthem yourself…

 

The national anthem. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s bold. Inspired by seeing the American flag flying at “dawn’s early light” after witnessing the Battle of Baltimore, Francis Scott Key took a popular British tune and changed the words. Over the past 250 years, Americans (famous and not) have sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” at events large and small.

Some of them have been successful at it, and some haven’t. And to tell the truth, it’s one of the toughest songs to sing. It’s wordy in its fast-moving rhythmic patterns, it requires a big range of both pitches and dynamics, and the longest-held note in the song is also the highest note. Let’s take a look at some of the best “Star-Spangled Banner” performances — as well as some not-so-great — and where each singer went wrong and right. Then, we’ll look at ways you can nail it yourself as you learn how to sing the national anthem!

Whitney Houston

Considered by many to be one of the best “Star-Spangled Banner” performances, Houston’s soaring rendition (performed in 1991) is pretty exciting. She’s impeccably in tune, gives us plenty of her signature vibrato, and she lets the beauty of the words and melody shine through without distractingly excessive runs. Houston also isn’t afraid to use a softer dynamic level to emphasize the meaning of certain phrases; it makes the audience listen harder, too. The legendary singer does have some facial tension that could’ve been alleviated with a little self-massage.

Renée Fleming

Grammy-award winning opera superstar, Renée Fleming, is using all of her good training and technique here to sing a the national anthem in a free and precise way. Her diction is great, too. But her best decision was to choose a key low enough to be comfortable enough for her to sing a dramatic high note on “O’er the land of the free.”

Mike Eli

This lead singer of the Eli Young Band, a popular country band, simply skips two lines of the song, and starts over. The bottom line? Mistakes happen. Performers blank. But what a professional does when they forget the lyrics or another embarrassing mistake is to go on without making it completely obvious. Unfortunately, the singer here is also barely in tune and seems rushed throughout.

Josh Groban

Groban uses a broad range of vocal dynamics here to makes an otherwise lackluster rendition sound decent. I’m not sure if he has facial tension, or if he’s trying to convey emotion. Either way, he should just relax and allow spontaneous feelings to happen in the moment, instead of choreographing his face.

Mariah Carey

She’s known for being the best-selling female singer of all time (well-known for her five-octave vocal range) but you can hear a lot of breathiness and vocal swelling in Carey’s voice here (listen for the tiny moments where her voice suddenly isn’t there). Toward the end of the song, when she sings, “O’er the land of the free,” and goes up into her signature whistle register, it seems out of place, almost as if she did it just to remind everyone that she’s Mariah Carey.

Christina Aguilera

Aquilera is singing a cappella (and as far as I can see, she doesn’t have an ear monitor). This makes it pretty tough for anyone to sing the national anthem in tune, but she does. Her higher notes seem secure and solid, albeit tight.

Taylor Swift

This 2008 performance of Taylor Swift isn’t exactly fantastic. There’s virtually no power behind the voice and the higher notes are strained. What is fantastic, however, is that Swift doesn’t aim to sound like anyone but herself, and that’s important.

Jennifer Hudson

I consider this the gold standard of national anthem performances. Hudson doesn’t start too low, and therefore breathy, as a lot of singers do. Her high notes are powerful and free, without any noticeable tension, throughout the entire song. Her vibrato is pleasant-sounding and at her command. And there’s plenty of sincere drama, but she remains in control.

Roseanne Barr

Don’t. Just don’t.

So, What Have We Learned? Tips for Singing the National Anthem

As you learn how to sing the national anthem, keep these tips in mind:

  • Get your physical energy up. Jumping jacks work great!
  • Start low in your range, but not so low that you’re breathy.
  • Think about what the words mean to you.
  • Don’t just yell! Use different dynamics to your advantage.
  • Sing a dramatic high note only if you have an emotional or lyrical reason (and it’s super solid!).
  • Be yourself and don’t imitate.

[Editor’s Note: For a hilarious account of what it’s really like to sing the Star-Spangled Banner in front of a crowd, we love this post by Chelsea Dyreng!]

I believe that the most important keys to singing the national anthem well are to know your own voice’s capabilities and limits, and sing in your own style; it’s also important to match at least some of the drama behind the song. That means knowing the history behind it and keeping a high energy level up throughout the entire song. But there should be a balance. Don’t let the need for a dramatic performance compromise strong and solid technique. Oh, and make sure that you know the words.

Heather LPost Author: Heather L.
Heather L. teaches singing, piano, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as online. She attended Westminster Choir College 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!

Photo by Nathan Rupert

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family road trip songs

97 Perfect Road Trip Songs the Whole Family Will Love (Summer 2015)

family road trip songs

Summer’s here, and that means road trip season! If you’re doing any long-distance driving this year, you might be on the lookout for family-friendly road trip songs that will keep everyone entertained… while simultaneously not driving anyone crazy. If you’d rather not get “The Song That Never Ends” stuck in your head yet again (or — let’s be honest — anything from the Frozen soundtrack), you’re not alone.

It can be difficult to make everyone happy at all times — but we’ve got you covered, with our top picks for country lovers, pop fanatics, and oldies-rockers alike. Plus, this list is a little different from other road trip song lists in that it’s all parent-approved, family-friendly tunes.

So load up the iPod and let’s hit the road!

Traveling Tunes

Songs about cars, driving, traveling, and more!

“I’ve Been Everywhere” – Johnny Cash

“Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” – Alabama
“Cruise” – Florida Georgia Line
“Real Gone” – Sheryl Crow
“Baby Lets Cruise” – Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis
“Travelin’ Band” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Free Bird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
“On the Road Again” – Willie Nelson
“Ramblin’ Man” – The Allman Brothers Band
“Dirt Road Anthem” – Jason Aldean
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver
“Road Trippin” – Josh Abbott Band
“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) ” – Green Day
“Home” – Phillip Phillips
“Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac
“Take A Back Road” – Rodney Atkins
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) ” – The Proclaimers
“Good Directions” – Billy Currington
“Free and Easy” (Down the Road I Go) – Dierks Bentley
“Roam” – B-52s
“Running on Empty” – Jackson Browne
“Last Train to Clarksville” – The Monkees
“I Can’t Drive 55” – Sammy Hagar
“Life is a Highway” – Rascal Flatts
“King Of The Road” – Randy Travis
“Mustang Sally” – Wilson Pickett
“Mercury Blues” – Alan Jackson
“G.T.O. ” – Ronny & the Daytonas
“American Pie” – Don McLean
“Joyride” – Roxette
“Hey Little Cobra” – The Rip Chords
“Fast Cars and Freedom” – Rascal Flatts
“King of the Road” – Roger Miller
“Hit the Road Jack” – Ray Charles
“Low Rider” – War
“Little Red Wagon” – Miranda Lambert
“A Thousand Miles” – Vanessa Carlton

Songs for the Shore

Nothing beats The Beach Boys for family road trip songs built for fun in the sun! 

“I Get Around” – The Beach Boys

“Little Deuce Coupe”
“Fun, Fun, Fun”
“California Girls”
“Good Vibrations”
“Barbara Ann”
“Surfin’ USA”

Songs for Working Out the Wiggles

Avoid the “Are we there yet”s by keeping kids dancing in their seats!

“Shut Up and Dance” – WALK THE MOON

“Shake A Tail Feather” – Ray Charles and the Blues Brothers
“Party in the U.S.A. ” – Miley Cyrus
“One Way or Another” – Blondie
“ABC” – The Jackson 5
“Firework” – Katy Perry
“Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” – Will Smith
“You’re the One that I Want” – Grease Soundtrack
“Ways To Go” – Grouplove
“22” – Taylor Swift
“I Want To Hold Your Hand” – The Beatles
“A Sky Full of Stars” – Coldplay
“Shake It Out” – Florence + The Machine
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – Whitney Houston
“The Walker” – Fitz And The Tantrums
“Love Runs Out” – OneRepublic
“Funkytown”Lipps, Inc.
“Good Feeling” – Flo Rida
“Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift
“Who Says” – Selena Gomez & the Scene
“Wooly Bully” – Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
“Shout” – The Isley Brothers
“I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow
“Great Balls of Fire” – Jerry Lee Lewis
“The Monkees Theme” – The Monkees
“Walking on Sunshine” – KC and the Sunshine Band
“Brave” – Sara Bareilles

Family Road Trip Songs from the Big Screen

Kids will instantly recognize these tunes from their favorite movies!

“Hurricane” – The Vamps (From “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”)

“Car Wash” – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott (from “Shark Tale”)
“Route 66″ – John Mayer (from “Cars”)
“I’m a Believer” – Smash Mouth (from “Shrek”)
“A Spoonful of Sugar” – Harry Connick, Jr. (from “Mary Poppins”)
“Something That I Want” – Grace Potter (from “Tangled”)
“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Randy Newman (from “Toy Story”)
“Fun, Fun, Fun” – Pharrell (from “Despicable Me”)
“Never Had a Friend Like Me” – Robin Williams (from “Aladdin”)
“The Circle of Life” – Elton John (from “The Lion King”)
“Hakuna Matata” (from “The Lion King”)
“Everything is Awesome” (from “The LEGO® Movie”)

Calming Tunes

Need to take a breather? These tunes are perfect once you’re all tuckered out…

“Lullaby” – Jack Johnson and Matt Costa

“Over the Rainbow” – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“Imagine” – John Lennon
“Fireflies” – Owl City
“Strawberry Swing” – Coldplay
“Upside Down” – Jack Johnson
“I Turn to You” – Christina Aguilera
“Come Away With Me” – Norah Jones
“Where Are You Going” – Dave Matthews Band
“Tiny Dancer” – Elton John
“No Such Thing” – John Mayer
“Stand By Me” – Ben E. King
“I’m Yours” – Jason Mraz
“Free” – Donavon Frankenreiter

Think you’ve got the next Taylor Swift in the backseat?

Singing along with your kids is a great way to get them excited about music, as well as find out what they’re interested in! Does your daughter love crooning along with T-Swift? Your son can’t stop moving and grooving when any beat comes on? Encouraging your children to explore their interests in music, dance, and the arts from an early age will bolster their confidence. And once they’re ready, private singing lessons, music lessons, or dance lessons can take them far!

Ready to get started? Search for a teacher near you.

Road Trip Tips for Families

Of course, the perfect road trip playlist isn’t the only thing you need for a successful family vacation. As you’re planning, here are some helpful guides to check out:

Readers, what other family road trip songs would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below! 

Photo by Ben Francis

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It's a Tenor's World - How to Survive as a Baritone Singing Pop

It’s a Tenor’s World: How to Survive as a Baritone Singing Pop

It's a Tenor's World - How to Survive as a Baritone Singing Pop

Today’s pop music certainly makes it seem like a tenor’s world out there. But if you’re more of a baritone, don’t worry. Learn about the baritone singing range, the best baritone pop songs to add to your repertoire, and more in this guest post by Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R...

 

Every single guy on Top 40 radio is a tenor. Seriously. Singers like Sam Smith, Jason Derulo, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, David Guetta, Adam Lavine, Usher, Justin Bieber, and Nick Jonas are all tenors. Every member of One Direction is a tenor. How did this happen? Where are the bass and baritone pop songs? And what are you to do if you love to sing pop music, but have a bass or baritone singing range?

What is a Tenor?

Before we go any further, let’s discuss vocal classifications. There are four primary male vocal classifications: bass, baritone, tenor, and countertenor. A tenor is the highest classification of male voice that sings primarily in chest voice. Countertenors are men who specialize in singing in falsetto; they often sing lead roles in baroque operas. It could also be argued that pop singers who sing almost exclusively in falsetto (like Justin Timberlake) are a new form of countertenor.

Range-wise, tenors feel comfortable belting very high. The coveted tenor high C, or C5 (the fifth C from the bottom of the piano), is the crown jewel of arias like “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot. (If you haven’t heard this before, go get a box of tissues, and watch the video below.) For a baritone, an A4 is very high, and most baritones have to switch to falsetto around an F or G. Basses can belt up to an E4, but most have to switch over at a C4 or D4.

On the other end of the scale, basses and baritones have the advantage. Tenors can’t usually sing below a B2. Baritones can often sing down to an F2, while basses sometimes enjoy the coveted low D2 or even C2. For an idea of what this sounds like, listen to the video below for a great reel of baritones and basses singing various low notes. (Skip to the end for the really crazy low notes.)

A History of High Notes

Despite the beautiful spectrum of the male vocal range (I love a good low note), the last great popular baritone singers were arguably Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash. The Beatles were tenors, and after them, tenors ruled. From Elton John to Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury, Prince, the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, tenors have dominated pop music for more than 60 years.

Baritone and Bass Pop Singer Survival Guide

So, where does this leave baritones and basses? If you have a bass or baritone singing range and enjoy pop music, you are probably familiar with the horrible sensation of straining to reach impossibly high notes. This is because the music on the radio nowadays is just not written for your voice.

Does this mean that you can’t sing pop? Absolutely not! Here are my five survival tips for basses and baritones who want to sing pop.

1. Sing Pop Songs in Your Key

Mercifully, songs can be moved to whatever key the singer chooses. Have a voice teacher help you measure your range and choose comfortable keys for your pieces. Many websites that sell sheet music let you easily change the key of a piece before purchase, so you can even get sheet music in the appropriate range.

Going to a karaoke night? Some karaoke machines let you change the keys of background tracks, so remember your ideal keys for a few pieces and make the appropriate adjustments. You will be surprised how much better you sound when you are not trying to sing music that is way too high for your voice.

2. Change Ornaments to Fit Your Voice

A big part of being a singer is coming up with your own ornaments in different pieces. Copying the original artist note-for-note and riff-for-riff is not exactly creative, and for you, it is probably uncomfortable (or even impossible), as well. Change things around to fit your style and your instrument. Instead of going for the high note at the end, for instance, what if you went down an octave?

3. Explore the Few, Proud Low Popular Singers

Although they are few and far between, there has been a handful of baritone popular music singers since the 1960s. Eric Clapton, Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, Bob Marley, Eddie Vector (Pearl Jam), and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) are a few outliers. You will likely be able to sing these singers’ songs in the original keys! Hallelujah!

Here are some specific songs to add to your singing repertoire:

  • “White Wedding” (Billy Idol)
  • “Layla” (Eric Clapton)
  • “Jeremy” (Pearl Jam)
  • “Lithium” (Nirvana)
  • “Hound Dog” (Elvis)
  • “My Way” (Frank Sinatra)
  • “Steal My Body Home” (Beck)

4. Branch Out

Popular music draws inspiration from a plethora of genres, including blues, metal, country, musical theater, and even opera. As it turns out, tenor dictatorship does not spread to these other genres. Baritone singers like B.B. King, Tim McGraw, and Chris Young all have large baritone discographies. Musical theater roles like Javert (“Les Misérables”), Tom Collins (“Rent”), and Sweeney Todd (“Sweeney Todd”) showcase low voices, as do a huge array of art songs and operatic roles.

5. Write Your Own Music

If you get frustrated by the lack of pop music for low voice, try writing your own bass or baritone pop music! Work with your voice teacher to get an idea of where your voice sits best, and write in a way that flatters your vocal abilities. I, for one, think it is high time we had a baritone or bass pop singer, so if you make it to the big time, I would be thrilled!

Readers, what baritone pop songs do you have in your repertoire? Leave a comment below and let us know! Want even more song recommendations? Click here for even more songs to sing!

Elaina RPost Author: Elaina R.
Elaina 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!

Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba

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The Ultimate Guide to Vocal Training Methods to Use at Home!

The 4 Best Resources to Practice Singing On Your Own

The Ultimate Guide to Vocal Training Methods to Use at Home!

As you’re learning to sing, don’t forget that often the magic happens while you’re practicing by yourself, outside of your lessons! And with the right resources available, practicing can be fun! Here, voice teacher Molly R. shares 4 of her favorites…

 

When you sign up for voice lessons (and if you haven’t yet done so, there are many fabulous voice teachers to choose from on TakeLessons), you will likely need to purchase sheet music for your solo pieces. But what other resources are essential for making your studies more effective? How can you continue to learn to sing by yourself, when your voice teacher isn’t around?

We’ve showcased a few online resources for singers on the blog before; now, here are a few more — both print and digital resources — that you can use to practice singing on your own.

1. Funky ‘n Fun Vocal Exercises by Kim Chandler

These recorded vocal exercises are phenomenal. I use them with all my students — young, old, classical singers, pop singers, everyone! They not only emphasize basic vocal technique, they help you develop your ear. Ms. Chandler, a seasoned session singer with a wonderful voice, encourages you to trust yourself and “jam” with her over the tracks. Some of them are based on hooks to well-known funk songs. Who wouldn’t love warming up with Stevie Wonder tunes?

Some of my students have liked these exercises so much that after we use them in lessons, they buy them to use at home or in the car — and some even do them with their families. (Yes, they really are that fun!) You can download these exercises on Kim Chandler’s website or purchase them in CD format.

2. Estelle Liebling’s Vocal Course

This couldn’t be a bigger contrast to Ms. Chandler’s method, since Estelle Liebling’s books are definitely “old school”! However, I firmly believe that we must cross-train in vocal studies. Ms. Liebling was one of the finest vocal instructors in NYC years ago, and her famous pupils include opera diva Beverly Sills and the great Meryl Streep. Her training is based in bel canto, the European school of beautiful and healthy singing. Most of the emphasis is in singing with a clear and pleasing tone.

These books are available on Amazon, and you can purchase the one most appropriate for your voice type: soprano, mezzo/contralto, tenor, or baritone/bass. If you’re a commercial music type, don’t let the term “classical technique” scare you! The vocal exercises in her books are actually quite simple and will help you develop your voice, too, and help you learn to sing by yourself, in between your lessons. Your teacher will agree!

3. Easy Warm-Ups by CoreSinging founder Dr. Meribeth Dayme

Who says you have to spend a long time warming up? And who says your warm-ups have to be traditional scales? They don’t! Dr. Dayme, founder of CoreSinging, has developed a fun way to warm up your voice anywhere, anytime. These vocal warm-ups are different, because she uses playful sounds (sirens, humming and chewing, silly conversations, etc.) to get everything going. I love doing these myself, as it brings out my inner kid. It doesn’t feel like “work” at all, and my students agree! These can also be purchased on Amazon for instant download.

4. Vocal Warm-Ups: 200 Exercises for Chorus and Solo Singers by Klaus Heizmann

This book is another one of my go-to’s in my lessons. With 200 exercises, you’re not going to be bored! Mr. Heizmann has divided this book into sections. Some of these exercises emphasize breathing, and other skills include dynamics, articulation, and resonance. Expect a wonderful variety here, from basic scales to playful warm-ups with nonsense words and fun phrases!

 

While there may be a ton of resources to choose from out there, it’s important that you seek out a variety to keep it fresh! Remember that it’s super important to put in the time to strengthen your technique by yourself, outside of your private voice lessons. With resources as wonderful as these, it’s easy and fun to do!

Readers, what other resources do you use to practice singing by yourself? Leave a comment below!

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 Kevin N. Murphy

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