Want to learn how to sing acapella? You’re not alone! From the contemporary acapella group Pentatonix, to smash films like Pitch Perfect and televised singing competitions, singing acapella has become more popular than ever this year.
Singing acapella is a true test for the singer to demonstrate their sense of musicianship, tonality, intonation, ear training, and sight reading. Being able to sing acapella also puts the singer at an advantage for securing jobs as a performer.
Whether you want to join a choir, glee club, or barbershop quartet, this article will help you learn the most vital tip for how to sing acapella.
What Does Acapella Mean?
Before we dive into how to sing acapella, it’s important to understand what acapella actually is first. Acappella can have any of the following characteristics:
- Music performed by a singer without any instrumental accompaniment
- A musical piece intended to be performed without any instruments
- Arrangements with one voice singing the lead melody, one singing rhythmic bass, and the rest contributing the accompaniment
- Group or solo performances
Still confused about what is acapella? Here’s a video to explain things a bit better:
How Do You Sing Acapella for Beginners?
Here are a few tips to help you learn how to sing acapella. They can be helpful regardless of whether you want to learn how to sing acapella in a group or learn how to sing acapella by yourself!
1. Practice Basic Singing Techniques
To know how to sing an acapella song, you need to be a strong singer all around. Work on practicing basic techniques, like having good posture, avoiding the urge to compress your throat as you sing, and breathing from your diaphragm.
Here are some more tips that can be useful as you are practicing singing.
2. Rehearse Your Pitch
One of the best tips on how to be an acapella singer? Practicing your pitch. Although singers of all kinds need to learn how to stay on pitch, it’s even more important for an acapella singer, since there won’t be any instruments to mask mistakes.
3. Improve Your Harmonizing Skills
Although being able to harmonize is the most important if you want to know how to sing acapella harmony songs in groups, harmonizing can also be helpful as you learn how to sing acapella solo.
Practice this skill by singing with others and recording yourself while you practice alone. That way, you’ll be able to tell if you’re getting the skill down pat or not.
4. Boost Your Vocal Range
Whether you want to know how to sing bass acapella or soprano acapella, one fact remains true of all great acapella singers – they have an impressive range.
If you really want to know how to be an acapella singer, you’ve got to work on expanding your vocal range. Here are some tips that can help you do just that.
5. Practice Emulating Different Instruments
A cappella music is entirely made up of voices, so knowing how to mimic the sound of various instruments with your voice is essential.
This can be challenging, but watching videos of people mimicking the instruments can help.
Here’s a video to show you the ropes:
6. Take Singing Lessons
Another great way to learn how to acapella sing? Learn from the pros! Consider taking singing lessons to help you learn how to sing acapella the right way.
#1 Tip for How to Sing Acapella
All of the tips we gave to you above are helpful as you are learning how to sing acapella. But there’s one tip that rises above the rest!
Ear training is the single most important tip for how to sing acapella.
What is ear training you ask? Being able to recognize pitch, tone color, and rhythms by hearing, and then demonstrating that through singing.
The official definition from Webster Dictionary is: “training to improve musical perception that generally includes solfège, sight singing, and musical dictation.”
Don’t be intimidated! Ear training is not as scary as it sounds. Below, we’ll share a simple exercise to get you on the right track in developing your listening skills.
The Most Effective Ear Training Exercise
To get started, pick a few standard, traditional songs – something from the American songbook such as “Amazing Grace” or “God Bless America,” that everyone is familiar with. Next, listen to a professional recording of the song.
[If you play an instrument, learn to play the melody of the song. It’s okay if you need to look at the sheet music or lyrics – this does not need to be memorized right away.]
Once you feel confident acapella singing the melody of the song, start to double-check yourself. Sing one note at a time, and then compare it to the recording.
If you’re playing along with a piano or guitar, check your pitch against it. If you did not hit the correct note, simply try again until you can sing the correct pitch.
This process does take time, and it shouldn’t be rushed. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t hit the right note the first time; it takes practice!
Once you’ve mastered note-by-note checking, try acapella singing the whole song from start to finish. Record yourself doing this so you can spot areas that still need some improvement.
If the notes you sang sound the same as the original melody – congrats, you’re training your ear! If they sounded quite different, focus back on that melody again, and go over it pitch by pitch.
You should also compare your last note to the last note of the recording, to make sure you stayed on track.
Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to with as many different songs as you like. You can also watch video tutorials like this one, that help you learn to identify and remember the individual notes in a song –
Is it Hard to Sing Acapella?
The more practice you get at ear training, the faster you will learn how to sing acapella! Of course, there are other techniques you can try, too.
Singing acapella can be challenging, but it’s a skill that’s worth having if you want to become a better vocalist overall.
Being able to recognize if your singing is off pitch, flat, or sharp is ear training in itself. To further sharpen these necessary skills for acapella, listen to a range of very good singers to recognize if your singing is off pitch, flat, or sharp is ear training in itself. To further sharpen these necessary skills for acapella, listen to a range of very good singers and then, some not-so-good singers. Look for the difference in their pitch, intonation, and tonality.
If you’re unable to tell the difference of hearing pitches, and every note sounds the same to you, you may require some additional ear training methods.
Here are a few excellent apps that will help you learn while on-the-go:
You can also try singing while you play scales or singing intervals to perfect your sound. If you’re a more advanced musician, try composing without the use of an instrument or transcribing your favorite song.
Every professional singer should have a few songs in their repertoire that they can sing acapella. You never know when your next audition may be, and you can’t always expect a musician or CD player to accompany you at your auditions.
If you need some additional guidance in becoming acapella singers, consider lessons from a vocal instructor to broaden your skillset. A vocal teacher can guide you through the process of ear training at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Good luck, and enjoy learning the art of acapella!
Post Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing and acting lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal Performance and she currently performs all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!