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 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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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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How to stay motivated for singers

21 Powerful Tips to Refuel Your Passion for Singing

how to stay motivated as a singer

Struggling to find singing gigs? Not feeling inspired? If your passion is dwindling, it’s time to take action. Don’t give up singing just yet! Read on as Sacramento, CA voice teacher Kevin B. shares his advice…


Let’s face it — when you have a job or any kind of regular commitment, there are going to be some days when you just don’t want to do it. This goes for everyone — even musicians who couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

If you find yourself feeling this way, don’t freak out. Don’t think that you’ve become jaded or depressed, or that you don’t care about your art anymore. The fact that you’re willing to resist the call of the TV, put on the big-kid pants, and go do your craft just shows how much you do care, and it sets you apart from thousands of musicians everywhere.

But here’s where the problem lies: being a singer, much like being an actor (or any other sort of entertainer for that matter), is not a job where you get the luxury of being able to lack enthusiasm. You’re front-and-freaking-center, and when you don’t want to be there, it shows. So suck it up kid, and put on a smile!

Or better yet, refuel your passion. Here are 21 ways to do so.


1. Re-envision your dreams – and be specific about them!

I’m willing to bet that you remember the experience that set you on this path. Whether it was that musical that made you cry, or that singer that blew you away with his skill and presence, you haven’t forgotten what makes you hit that practice room when it’s time.

Much time has probably passed since then, and you’ve got a good grip on your skills, your strengths, and what you bring to the table. So now is the time to turn your dream from an ambiguous entity into a concrete goal: is there a certain part you want to play? An ensemble you want to join? A venue that you dream of performing in? Whatever it is, you’ve been working hard, and you’re well on your way to achieving that dream! That ought to put a smile on your face.

Keep Your Singing passion alive

2. Leave the student behind – just for a bit

Whatever you’ve been learning in your voice lessons, chances are you’ve taken it with you in your everyday music listening. When you listen to music, your head is probably racing to apply everything you’ve learned: “Oh, he’s totally singing with a high larynx in that part!” “Oh man, she was not in tune on that belt!”

This is normal, but turning off that part of the brain also has its benefits. You enjoyed music before you started taking lessons, and enjoying music with that same blank slate that you used to have can help you remember why you started doing this in the first place. Give it a try!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

3. Apply what you’ve learned to a new genre

Most of us, I’m pretty sure, have thought about singing multiple genres before. And one of the things I love about studying voice is that so much of it applies to many different genres, or even all of them!

Sure, you loved how you got that perfect vibrato going on your Italian art song, but what about using that same technique on the classical crossover song you love? You’re really nailing the breath support with your music theater repertoire, how about seeing how well that support works on that old jazz standard your grandpa used to play? You’ve worked hard on improving your instrument, you deserve to play around with it!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

4. Challenge yourself

You should feel challenged in your lessons. If you don’t, that’s definitely something you should take up with your voice teacher. However it can also feel empowering to challenge yourself on specific things.

After all, no matter how much your teacher gives you to work on, you only have them for a certain amount of time each week, and there’s bound to be more things to work on than just what you’ve talked about in your lessons. Just think of how much fun it will be at your next lesson when you get to say “Hey teach, look what I can do!”

Keep Your Singing passion alive

5. Learn from the pros

Sometimes it takes a pro’s touch to get your spark back. Fortunately, there are many opportunities available to learn from the best! The queen mother of all such opportunities is a master class: if you have the chance to attend – or better yet participate in – one of these, be there. Period. In the absence of such an opportunity, you can also find interviews or master classes on YouTube to help you stay motivated and get back on track.

Keep Your Singing passion alive

6. Keep a practice log

When I was seeing a personal trainer to keep in shape, he told me to write down all the workouts I completed. That way each time I went to work out, I would see what I did the previous week, and I could decide whether to do the same thing or try something more challenging.

For many vocal students, practicing can be the same way. In terms of keeping your passion on track, the benefit it has is that you get to look back and realize how far you’ve come.

Keep Your Singing passion alive

7. Go to a concert

This probably seems like an obvious one, but it always strikes me as odd when musicians spend all their time practicing their craft, and no time watching it! Seeing someone up on the stage doing what you love might just make you wish you were up there, and then – BAM! There’s your motivation to keep singing.

Keep Your Singing passion alive

8. Focus on finding that music job you’ve been wanting

Sure, you’ve thought about how wonderful it would be to get paid to sing. Perhaps, though, you didn’t think about how empowering it would be. When people pay you to sing, to do what you love, it boosts your confidence, and confidence is a singer’s bread and butter.

If you don’t know where to start, ask your voice teacher. They’ll be able to tell you if they think you’re ready for such a thing, or at the very least how to get you ready. For those interested in being a professional singer eventually, this is an important step!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

9. Switch it up!

When it comes to practicing, repetition is the quickest way to kill enthusiasm. There’s no more effective way to kill a piece of repertoire than to work on “that one phrase” over and over again. If you haven’t learned to spare yourself from this kind of torture, now you know.

Instead, work on “that one phrase” for a while, then switch to another piece of rep, or at the very least a different part of the song. Singing should be hard work, but there’s no reason it has to be boring work!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

10. Try on a new hat

No, not literally. What I mean to say is try a new role in music. If you haven’t tried your hand at songwriting or composing yet, you might be surprised to discover how empowering it is. If you’re not the creative type, try learning a new instrument or even learning to dance. Not only might this give you a new perspective on your singing, but it’ll help you beef up your resume!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

11. Absorb the arts – namely the ones that inspire your music

There’s a reason that they talk about painting, architecture, and literature in music history classes. It’s because the different schools of the arts influence one another. The lyrics to art songs come from poetry, and many pieces of music correlate to paintings and other art. So go to an art gallery, a poetry reading, or a play! As a student of the arts, you are a part of a rich, vast, and diverse culture, and that is something that should be celebrated!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

12. Take on a new project

Singers should have voracious appetites. You should want to get involved as often as you can with as many different projects as you can. If you’re feeling particularly unenthused about your studies, maybe you just haven’t found the project that really fuels your passion yet. There are an abundance of talented musicians out there, so go find them!

If you’re worried about the time it will take out of your week, stick to something small. Find a pianist who can pick up music really fast, practice with him or her once a week, and then just like that you’ll have another project under your belt.

Keep Your Singing passion alive

13. Make a lunch date with a teacher or mentor

The best teachers I know are the ones who will do anything for their students. If you’re struggling with how to stay motivated (or anything else related to your singing), your teacher or mentor will likely have advice for you. They’ve probably experienced what you’re going through at one point! If nothing else, you’ll get to spend a lovely afternoon with someone who cares about you!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

14. Take a break!

Perhaps your problem is that you’re just working too hard! One of my favorite pieces of life advice I ever got is: “Music should be inspiration for life, and life should be inspiration for music.” Musicians should be happy people who live a fulfilling life. So make time to do what you love, and you might just end up falling in love again with what you do!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

15. Go kill it at karaoke

As I’ve mentioned before, confidence is a singer’s life’s blood. So if your compliment reservoir is running low, go and fill it! Pick that perfect karaoke song, have a couple drinks with friends, and soak up any compliments you get from the experience.

If you’re under 21, see number 12 and find a duet partner to do open mic nights with you. Often these places are filled with lackluster musicians, so if you put even a little effort into your performance it’s bound to get noticed.

Keep Your Singing passion alive

16. Invest in your future – even if it’s something small

Sometimes in the midst of all our hard work, our destination can seem so far away. To stay motivated, find a way to bring home the reality of the next big thing in your singing life.

Have a recital coming up? Go buy the dress you’re going to wear! Have a rock show coming up? Maybe it’s time for a new mic. You’ll have to do these things anyway, so why not do it now? Spend the afternoon daydreaming and getting pumped… and then go practice, so you can nail the performance!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

17. Add to your collection

Another investment that you can make to fuel your enthusiasm is in the form of books and DVDs. Singers should have large collections of repertoire books, as well as DVDs of live performances to model their craft after. If you need an enthusiasm boost, maybe it’s time to beef up your collection. It can only help you grow!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

18. Discover something new

The best singers are curious people. So, get out there and be the first among your group of friends to discover an opera or musical that nobody has ever heard of. The music that can give you your new inspiration could be out there, but if you don’t seek it out you will never know!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

19. Research one of your favorite singers

In keeping with number 18, be curious about the people who have helped you get where you are. If you have an idol, you should know where they grew up, how old they were when they first got signed, who their first record label was, and so on. If you haven’t figured out from reading so far, I believe in learning from the pros!

(Editor’s note: You can also learn what not to do from watching famous singers!)

Keep Your Singing passion alive

20. Network

Sometimes the answer to how to stay motivated won’t come from a mentor or a professional singer, but someone a little closer to your level.

If you’re in college, you’ve got it easy – join the local chapter of a music fraternity and you’re instantly connected with individuals just like you. If you aren’t in college, go to lots of shows and network there. If you get enough musician friends, perhaps you could even start a weekly meet-up, and get fuel for your passion every week!

Keep Your Singing passion alive

21. Summer programs

There are a million reasons to look into summer music programs, one of which is that there’s nothing quite as motivating as spending a few weeks continually working and improving your voice, surrounded by individuals who are doing the same. Summer programs are often expensive, but if you can spare the dough, the rewards will be more than worth it.


The most important thing to remember is that you have to make time for these ideas. That might mean skipping hanging out with your girlfriend on Tuesday night so that you can rehearse with your duet partner, or taking a night to watch a recorded master class when you would normally watch Netflix.

To become a singer, you need to have a fire in your heart for it; neglecting that element of the music is just as bad as singing off-key, breathing in the middle of a word, or any other technical mistake. So go get your passion on track, if it isn’t already… and then rock that practice time like the awesome singer that you are!

Readers, how do you stay motivated and make sure singing remains a passion? Leave a comment with your own tips and advice!


TakeLessons Teacher Kevin BPost Author: Kevin B.
Kevin B. is a private singing instructor in Sacramento, CA. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music at California State University, Sacramento, and has performed in many musicals and operas in Sacramento. Learn more about Kevin here!

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12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs - top music apps

12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs (2015 Update)

12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs - top music apps

Since the invention of the app store, aspiring and experienced musicians have been finding inspiration, practicing their skills, and immersing themselves in their craft — all with the help of some of the top music apps!

There are so many noteworthy apps that can benefit all musicians, from guitarists to singers and songwriters. Whether you are looking for something educational or creative, this list will benefit your collection of apps. And best of all, they are all fun to work with… and pretty addictive, we might add!

Here are our picks for top music apps…

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Songwriter’s Pad

Songwriter’s Pad is the ultimate songwriter’s tool. It contains powerful idea-generating tools to inspire creation while making lyric-writing easier than ever. Everything you need to write music is packed into this one application. Finally, an app to defeat writer’s block once and for all!

Download: iOSAndroid


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Songsterr Tabs & Chords

Songsterr Tabs & Chords was featured in the Wall Street Journal as, “one of the best apps for learning to play music.” With a huge catalog of 500,000 accurate tabs and chords, all musicians can learn something with this app. Most songs have tabs for individual instruments too, including the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.

Download: iOS, Android


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)GarageBand

Do you need a full recording studio on the go? If so, this is the app for you. GarageBand turns your phone into a collection of instruments, including piano, organ, guitar, and drums. Guitarists can even plug their electric guitar in and play through classic amps and stompbox effects!

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)My Note Games

This is a fun music game that teaches music theory and instrument mastery, including lessons for saxophone, piano, guitar, recorder, trumpet, violin, viola, and cello, plus vocals and whistling. The app actually listens to you playing your instrument, checking your tone, pitch, and accuracy.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Beatwave

With Beatwave, you can make unique music just by tapping on your screen! No musical skills are required, and you can create songs anywhere from your phone. In minutes, you can make complex songs with multiple layers of instruments and sounds — and then share them on social media!

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Ear Trainer

Ear Trainer is an educational application designed for beginner to advanced musicians, music students, and anyone interested in improving one’s musical ear. There are more than 260 individual exercises covering intervals, chords, scales, relative pitch, and melody.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Sing! Karaoke by Smule

Are you ready to take karaoke to the next level? With Sing! Karaoke by Smule, you can sing your favorite karaoke songs and show them off to the world. Record yourself, add audio effects, and share with the app’s global community!

Download: iOS, Android


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Polyphonic!

Polyphonic! is a simple interface app for creating your own complex layers of music, even without any prior musical ability. Each square represents a different sound and each color represents a unique group of sounds. This app is perfect for anyone interested in music creation.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Hum

Hum makes note-taking and audio recording of song ideas easier than ever! Every aspiring songwriter needs this tool in his or her arsenal. Hum keeps your lyrics and song ideas organized and sortable so you never lose anything again.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Lyrics Pro

With this app, you get access to the lyrics of millions of tracks, straight from your phone. You can search by artist, song name, or the lyrics themselves. It also has a cool auto-loading feature that delivers the lyrics to any song that is currently playing!

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Figure

You now have the ability to create awesome music in minutes! Simply open Figure and start by creating a beat, then share it with your friends. Whether you are new to music production or are a seasoned veteran, this app is super fun to use. All musicians can use it to improve their rhythm and expand creativity.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)SongPop

Do you know everything about music? Test yourself against friends with SongPop. As you play, you’ll listen to song clips from thousands of original artists in more than 300 genres, and the idea is to guess the artist or song faster than your friends.

Download: iOS, Android


Readers, what top music apps are missing from this list? Let us know in the comments!

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Songwriting Tips 11 Helpful Examples Revised

Songwriting Tips: 11 Helpful Examples From 7 Hit Songs

MO - Songwriting Tips 11 Helpful Examples Revised

Writing a catchy song that delivers a strong message can be quite difficult. Here, voice teacher Emmanuel N. shares the songwriting tips you can glean from several famous singers…  


When it comes to lyric-writing and songwriting, nobody can really teach you how to do it – it’s better to show by example. Whether you’re simply writing lyrics to a song you will one day sing (or someone else will sing for you) or you’re songwriting to a musical piece you found or created, you will have your own unique style. Songwriting and lyric-writing are some of the few artistic skills that are difficult to truly teach.

There are some songwriting tips and suggestions that can be very beneficial, but there is no real “by the book” way of writing lyrics for a song. So, the next best thing is offering examples of great songs by some very talented artists and songwriters. Although the artists listed below may not be the top singer-songwriters of all time, they represent a range of genres, including R&B (my specialty).

Listen to the lyrics in the tunes below, then check out my notes on what you can learn from each.

“Looking At Her” – Paul McCartney [written by Paul McCartney]

  • Matching the melody of the vocals with the melody of the song is not a bad thing. Don’t be afraid to do what Paul did at [1:40] in the bridge where his vocals match the main melody of the music (“Doesn’t she know…”).


“Nobody Ever Told You” – Carrie Underwood [written by Carrie, Lindsey, and Laird]

  • When writing a song with a positive message, making it personal gives the song a stronger meaning. Carrie does this in the first verse as she talks about how beautiful she is despite what society says. At [0:21], for example, she says “…Don’t be shy, don’t be scared…” when pertaining to showing your real self.
  • Using similes in a song makes the lyrics more beautiful and poetic. Carrie does this at [0:51] and [2:20] with her chorus and bridge to give the listener a more vivid picture of just how beautiful they are (“You shine like a diamond, glitter like gold… you’re free as a bird… just like a flower growing wild.”)


“Looking In” – Mariah Carey [written by Mariah Carey & Afanasieff]

  • Similar to Carrie Underwood’s song, you’ll notice that getting personal in a song makes it that much more emotional and powerful. At [1:23] Mariah continues her second verse describing some girl by using “she,” yet not telling us who it is. She ends the verse by revealing this “she” was Mariah herself all along (“…and hides herself inside of me”), making it very personal.
  • Don’t be afraid to be passionate, emotional, and show your frustration. The bridge at [1:51] is short but straight to the point; Mariah exclaims her frustration on the lack of people understanding her pain and where she is coming from (“Don’t say she takes it all for granted… Please understand”).


“You Said” – Keri Hilson [written by Keri Hilson]

  • Having each line in a chorus start off the same is a good way to grab someone’s attention – and it makes the song catchy. Keri’s chorus at [0:48] starts off each line with “Thought you said…” to capture that feeling of annoyance we get when we’ve been lied to repeatedly.
  • The bridge of a song is the perfect place to get real and just say it like it is – and if you’re going to repeat it, add some harmonies like she did. At [2:11] Keri gets to the point and tells her boyfriend he lost her trust (“…now I can’t believe a word that comes from you”).


“Cry” – Mariah Carey [written by Mariah Carey & James Wright]

  • When the music gets stronger and more powerful, let loose and let those emotions out. During the bridge, as the piano chords get stronger, Mariah gets dynamic as she lets those emotions out at [3:06]. “…So naked…” is extended vocally to let the emotions sink in, in between emotional lyrics.


“Born This Way” – Lady Gaga [written by Gaga and Laursen]

  • Adding a message in the intro of a song has a good chance of capturing the listener’s attention. Lady Gaga does this in the beginning of her song with, “It doesn’t matter if you love him or capital H-I-M…” to provide a sort of prologue to the song.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the title of your song throughout the entire song itself. Lady Gaga mentions “born this way” in the intro, first verse, chorus, bridge, and outro several times to truly stress that we really are born this way (regarding what makes us different, so that we learn to love ourselves and each other).


“My Everything” – Ariana Grande [written by Ariana et al.]

  • Use a specific theme to give your message more dimension. At [1:10] Ariana uses the theme of distance and time to show the strain that distance has on her relationship. With “I know you’re not far… can’t handle all the distance… you’re traveling with my heart… temporary feeling,” you can see the theme play out nicely and poetically.


So there you have it, some examples that showcase how creative you can get when writing songs. I have written more than 100 songs and I learned by listening to songs that inspire me or make me feel something. Hopefully these songs help you in your endeavor of creating masterpieces and will lead you down the path to becoming a successful singer-songwriter!

Editor’s Note: Want even more examples of great songwriting? We love this resource by Robin Frederick, detailing the strategies behind several hit songs, including the lyrics, structure, and melody of each.

Emmanuel NoriegaPost Author: Emmanuel N.
Emmanuel N. teaches online Spanish and singing lessons. He earned his B.A. in psychology from California State University, Fullerton and has been teaching lessons since January 2015. Learn more about Emmanuel here!

Photo by Roger Blackwell

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15 Fabulous Songs for Male Jazz Singers

15 Fabulous Songs for Male Jazz Singers (Listen Here!)

15 Fabulous Songs for Male Jazz Singers

Guys, ready to explore the world of jazz? There are so many good jazz songs to sing and talented jazz singers to check out! Here are some top picks from voice teacher Molly R...


For beginner vocal students (or ANY vocal student, for that matter!) nothing beats a jazz standard! Even the rocker guys I work with agree that mastering a classic can do absolute wonders for improving your voice.

Jazz songs are great for singers for so many reasons: phrasing, musicianship, improvisation, strengthening your middle range… sold yet? Then why not consider one of these 15 great songs for male jazz singers? There is a huge variety here: you’re bound to find a few that you’ll love to sing!

1) “Fly Me to the Moon”

What a fun one! You can swing the rhythm like Frank Sinatra, or sing it “straight.” That’s why jazz is so great — you’ve got choices!

2) “Hello, Dolly!”

While I don’t suggest you try to emulate Satchmo’s signature scratchy sound, this song is swinging! Fun fact: it became a #1 hit that booted the Beatles off the top of the charts in 1964.

3) “Embraceable You”

A beautiful Gershwin standard! It’s sweet, slow-paced, and sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Here’s Nat King Cole singing it in his smooth style.

4) “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?”

This is another uptempo jazz song that is witty and just sheer fun! This is performed by the legendary Dean Martin. Although it’s often performed with a full band, don’t let the big sound fool you. This is always a treat sung with just a piano, too!

5) “Misty”

Numerous singers have made this heartfelt ballad their own — and can you blame them? It’s easy to improvise and the lyrics are just lovely. Here it is performed by the gentleman who made it most popular, Johnny Mathis.

6) “All of Me”

Again, Mr. Sinatra shows us how you can make choices in jazz. Here, he swings the rhythm. Although you also have the choice of singing it slower and more in the style of a ballad. Either way, this is always a solid choice!

7) “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”

I love this song because of the clever and memorable lyrics. In this video, Harry Connick, Jr. gives this classic song his cool flair.

8) “A Foggy Day in London Town”

The Gershwins did such an amazing job of painting a picture of a place with their music. Here’s further proof of that with Michael Bublé’s version this wonderful number.

9) “I Won’t Dance”

This sassy song by Jerome Kern is sometimes sung as a duet, but it’s also sung as a solo jazz piece. Legends such as Sinatra and Tony Bennett are among the many who have sung it, as well as movie star Fred Astaire, seen here.

10) “It Had to Be You”

Does anyone have a jazzier tone than living legend Tony Bennett? He’s one of the greatest male jazz singers of all time — just listen to how simply but effectively he delivers this uplifting classic!

11) “All the Way”

This standard has one grand, sweeping melody. It’s the perfect tune to show off emotion as well as how well you can build a phrase.

12) “Stardust”

This one was made for intimate jazz club settings! It’s especially beautiful with nothing more than simple piano accompaniment, as heard here with Harry Connick, Jr.

13) “The Girl From Ipanema”

Like many of the jazz songs in this list, there have been countless versions of this piece. This was even a Top-40 hit in the 1960s! Many have given this a Latin feel, but note how Nat King Cole gives it a slightly more traditional sound.

14) “When Sunny Gets Blue”

Smooth… cool… and yet very emotional at the same time. Ah, that’s why we love vocal jazz! Mel Torme, the “Velvet Fog” himself, sings this so beautifully, with impeccable phrasing and diction.

15) “New York State of Mind”

Billy Joel was no doubt inspired from great songs of the past when he wrote and recorded this favorite “new standard” in the 1970s! Many of the greats have put their own stamp on his salute to the Big Apple. Wouldn’t this be a great number to either open or close a show with?


So there you have it! Fifteen fantastic jazzy standards that are perfect for male jazz singers of all ages. (Ladies, check out my list of popular jazz songs for females here!)

Of course, the best way to determine the perfect songs for you is by working with your voice teacher. He or she can easily help you find what is best for your vocal range and musical abilities. If you don’t already have one, TakeLessons can help you find your perfect match for either online or in-person voice lessons.

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!

Photo by Eva Rinaldi

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