When you’re learning how to sing, having the right tools is essential. Among those should definitely be a keyboard or piano — continue reading to find out why in this guest post by St. Augustine, FL teacher Heather L...
I’ve met singers over the years coming from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of ideas of what being a singer really means and what tools it takes to stay good. Opera singers, rappers, folk singer-songwriters and everyone in between have crossed my path. I can say with certainty that the most successful of them owned keyboards. That doesn’t mean that all of them studied or even played the piano. It simply means that they had easy access to a keyboard where they lived or created music.
As a teacher, I’ve encountered quite a few students who wish to take voice lessons with me, but have no piano knowledge or background at all. I almost always end up teaching a bit of basic piano fundamentals in these lessons. It is virtually impossible, except for those rare few singers who possess absolute pitch (formerly called perfect pitch), to learn and practice singing at home without using the keys.
Now, some will say that a guitar or a harmonica works just fine, and for some, it does. But the piano has some distinct advantages over most other modern instruments in terms of ease of sound production, being an aid to both sight reading and songwriting, relative ease of maintenance and tuning, and being a great “warm-up buddy.” Here are the specific reasons that having a keyboard or piano is so great to have around as you’re learning how to sing.
1. Ease of tone production
Compared to other instruments, like the trumpet or the clarinet and even the harmonica, the piano is easy to create sound with. The sound is created simply with a heavy arm. A little muscle and joint warm-up is all you need to prepare to play. There’s no need to work tirelessly on creating a clear, pure tone. It’s there at your disposal, which is perfect when all that you need is a starting pitch.
2. Aiding music reading and songwriting
Music theory can be seen so much more clearly and in such a more linear fashion using a keyboard. Notes that are adjacent, or as I like to describe to my students, “right next door to each other,” in written music are also adjacent to each other on the piano. This helps to make learning sung music easier. In a similar way, that same set up facilitates writing music with both melodies and chords, something almost impossible on the guitar. Having a keyboard is the easiest way for a singer to deepen his or her theory knowledge.
3. Relative ease of maintenance and tuning
As opposed to a guitar, for example, which sometimes needs daily tuning and monthly string changes, pianos need a yearly or twice-yearly tuning. Keyboards will sometimes need an electronic calibration, but that’s very occasional. Plus, either one will get its own spot in your home. Unless you’re gigging out and taking your keyboard in a case, then there’s no need for daily storage like there is with a guitar.
4. Being a great “warm-up buddy”
The keys are a tangible, simple group of notes are your fingertips, a very useful tool when it comes to warming up and exercising the voice at home and backstage. Sure, singers can get by with their voices alone, but it can be tough, especially if you’re studying a particular book of vocalises or sight singing melodies. You’ll need that tangible, simple group of notes on the keyboard.
These are the best, albeit not all, reasons to own a keyboard as you’re learning how to sing. Singers will find its user-friendly nature makes it the ultimate companion instrument to the voice.
I want to thank Dave Isaacs of Music News Nashville for his insight into this topic. Please read more at his blog.
Photo by taymtaym