What Other Musicianship Skills Do Singers Need?

Music Theory Homework.

Are you a singer who wants to be a more well-rounded musician? Here, Hayward, CA teacher Molly R. shares what you should be working on beyond the necessary vocal techniques…


When you sign up for voice lessons, you have certain expectations about the things you’ll learn: how to breathe, get better high and low notes, etc. You’ll also likely learn more about selecting repertoire, and how to be an effective performer!

But… is this enough? Singers often get a bad rap for not being real “musicians.” Often this is the case because some don’t bother to sharpen other skills that are necessary — the skills beyond vocal technique! Here are some suggestions on what you can do (beyond singing!) to make you the complete musician:

1) Study music theory! This can’t be stressed enough, Music theory is the language of music. If you’re able to speak it, you can work much more effectively with conductors, instrumentalists, and of course fellow singers.

Don’t let music theory intimidate you. You can find courses at community colleges, or invest in a few books that take you from the very beginning, such as this excellent resource from Alfred Publishing. You can also find wonderful music theory teachers at TakeLessons, of course!

2) Study ear training! This works hand in hand with music theory. You can develop a good ear with lots of practice, and making the process enjoyable helps. I recommend the “Challenging Patterns” collection in the amazing Funky ‘n Fun series by Kim Chandler. You’ll find yourself walking around humming intervals without even thinking about it…. where was this series when I was a student? Ear training teachers can also be found with TakeLessons.

3) Study another instrument! Really, you can never know enough. Don’t limit yourself if you’ve ever had any sort of inkling to learn something else besides voice. The instrument that perhaps makes the most sense for a singer to learn is piano, as it makes learning your songs a lot easier. However depending on your style, guitar may be the answer for you! By studying another instrument, theory and ear training will also become a lot easier for you.

The more skills you have make you much more desirable as a vocal soloist, ensemble member, and as a music instructor… so be sure to consider training beyond basic vocal techniques if you are really serious! Talk with your voice teacher, and he or she may be able to customize your lessons so that you are learning a variety of valuable things beyond just how to sing.

mollyrMolly 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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