It’s a common misconception that singers and instrumentalists are two completely different types of musicians. They’re actually much more alike than you might think! The difference is that, as singers, your instrument is your body! Because of this, as you learn how to sing, you’ll likely come across some specific issues of technique.
One of the most important things for singers to work on is singing notes that are perfectly in tune. Generally, producing the correct notes for an instrumentalist is almost automatic: once you know the correct fingering or position for a note on your respective instrument, it’s relatively easy to play. More so, the note will likely be close to being in tune already, just by virtue of the consistent physical dimensions and regulations in instrument building. For singers, however, singing the right pitches is not achieved by pressing down the right fingers. This is where singing scales can help
Why are Singing Scales Important?
Scales are the foundation of all music. This is why mastering your particular instrument – your voice – should begin with mastering all the different scales! This is true for virtually every genre of music, from classical to jazz to pop and so on. Just think: if most music is built on scales and you can already sing them all proficiently and confidently, then you have a head start on learning almost any piece or song that you want to sing.
Besides being a fundamental baseline for learning vocal literature with ease, singing scales as part of your daily practice routine is also necessary for building advanced technique. Much like an athlete that starts and ends their daily training with specific fundamental exercises, stretches, and calisthenics, singing scales allows you to keep your “singing body” in excellent shape. Because there are no words to be memorized, melodies to remember, nor any complicated rhythms to maneuver, you can better address things like breath control, extending your vocal range, developing a variety of vocal timbres and colors, perfecting pitch and intonation, and controlling your mental and emotional focus.
The Best Ways to Practice Singing Scales
There is no right or wrong way to practice scales, but there are several good tips for singing scales you should keep in mind. Most singers prefer to focus on scales at the beginning of a practice session. This is because scales serve as an excellent vehicle for warming up the voice.
Be sure to focus on a variety of scales. Major and minor scales are the most important to learn and implement in your routine. There are 12 musical keys, and for each of those keys, there is one major scale and three different types of minor scales: natural, harmonic, and melodic. Start with one octave of each scale. As you become increasingly proficient and confident, you can develop your range by doing two octaves. You can also learn and incorporate other types of scales: jazz, blues, whole tone, octatonic, chromatic, and so on.
Making Scales Fun
As with anything else, repetition can get boring. Fortunately, there are a number of different things you can do to make scale-singing fun and fresh:
- Start with just a few scales and add one or two new ones every week. This will make every week feel new and give you a constant feeling of achievement.
- Incorporate different rhythms.
- Add words to the scales. This will help you practice your diction along with the scales, as well as make it fun. You can even try a tongue twister!
- Sing the scales in different interval patterns, such as thirds. This is great if you are more advanced and have already become proficient at singing scales straight.
- Use a tuner to make sure your intonation is accurate.
You can also work with your teacher or fellow singing students to get more ideas and tips for singing scales.
Although scales have the reputation of being boring or pedantic, they are an invaluable part of any musician’s technical and artistic development. Just as important, they can also be fun! By acknowledging their usefulness and incorporating different routines and exercises through various tips for singing, you might even start looking forward to daily scale singing!
Photo by bobnjeff