Vocal Tips: Learning How to Harmonize

It’s amazing what you can do with your voice!  Unlike other musicians, as a singer you carry your instrument with you at all times.  The opportunities to practice and perform your art are vast, as well as the ways to experiment with different styles, techniques, and of course, harmonies!

Similar to a guitar player plucking one note and then building it into a chord, learning how to harmonize will create that rich, full sound when you’re singing with a group or a choir.

Singing harmonies, however, can be tricky.  Lead lines may come easy to beginner singers, but excelling at harmonies requires an understanding of note relationships and chord formations. Finding a great voice teacher, therefore, is a must if you really want to improve.

Check out this quick tutorial from singing teacher Arlys A. for an overview of one way to learn to harmonize-

Now check out these additional tips from the Eclectic Musician, another great resource for singers!

1. Put on some music and start experimenting with your voice. Harmony is, essentially, multiple pitches at once. One way to proceed is to put on a favorite song and start singing whatever comes to you. Try some high notes, low notes, long tones and short tones. By definition if you are not singing the melody (i.e., the tune) you are singing harmony.

2. If you are having trouble breaking away from the melody, drop the words. Listen to the Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. During the first verse, it’s just Paul singing alone. In the second verse, on the word “minute,” the other guys come in singing “ahhhhh.” Think about how much easier it is to just pick a note and stick with it, rather than come up with a distinct harmony line! Still, it’s completely legit. You can add aaahs and la la las to just about anything to practice.

3. Learn existing harmony parts. If you have the opportunity to sing in a choir, you will learn a specific harmony part to sing against the melody (unless your part actually is the melody). This is a great way to experience how singing harmony is supposed to feel, and develop the independence to stick to your part even when someone else is singing a different part.

Also, seek out the harmony parts in the music you listen to. You might start with call-and-response type songs (if you’re not Gladys Knight, you’re a Pip – can you pick out your part?) and then try out some closer harmonies where two or more parts are moving together in the same rhythm. If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong – pick stuff you really like.

Continue reading the article for additional tips here.

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Photo by wstryder.

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