3 Timeless Songs to Sing to Improve Your Technique
You don’t need to repetitively practice dull vocal exercises in order to learn good singing technique. And you don’t need to completely eliminate vocal style from your singing in order to train your technique. Technique and style can coexist in the training process, and are best developed simultaneously.
8 Rules & Practice Tips on Technique and Style for Beginner Singers
1. Anything you sing can be used as a vocal exercise.
2. A vocal exercise can be treated as though it were a song.
3. A song should be learned by breaking it into bits of technique and bits of style, and reassembling it as both, separately. Then fuse the two into your finished product.
4. Your technical song and your stylized song will sound completely different from each other.
5. Just as there is efficient and less efficient vocal technique, there are efficient and less efficient ways to apply vocal style.
6. Technique without style is a dull performance.
7. Style without technique is an incomplete performance, and can lead to vocal deterioration.
8. Technique enhances style. Style informs technique.
The following three timeless and enduringly popular songs to sing are particularly well-suited to developing sound singing practices. And they can be stylized in a variety of ways.
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Weiss, Peretti, and Creatore
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Weiss, Peretti, and Creatore is one of the best songs to sing for learning to release long notes. Singing a long note while maintaining clear and even tone quality is one hallmark of good singing. When singing diphthongs, as in the word “my,” you’ll want to be sure to separate the two vowel sounds to keep from supporting the sound with your jaw or tongue, or overly supporting with your abdomen. Maintaining that true tone quality as the melody moves stepwise up or down is also important.
The song covers the range of an octave plus two notes. Singing the song in two or three keys is a great way to work on intonation throughout the voice range, as well as learn to negotiate the breaks or register shifts that sit in the middle of the main melody.
“Unchained Melody” by North and Zaret
The ever-popular tune “Unchained Melody” by North and Zaret is excellent for making interval maneuvers up or down with clear tone quality and rhythmic accuracy, and keeping every note in tune. For extra fun, try singing the Italian version of the song, “Senza Catene”. The pure Italian vowels are conducive to good singing. You don’t need to speak Italian to sing in Italian.
Singing in another language can actually help turn the focus of your practice to technique, over performance. A singer who is unable to emotionally detach from the words of a song in order to do the detail work of simply making it sound good, and who can’t separate performance style from technique, might benefit from this approach.
A vocal selection that emerged in recent times and gained popularity is the “Ave Maria” written by Vladimir Vavilov in the 1970s and erroneously attributed to Baroque composer Giulio Caccini. The long lines in this song require a centered tone, coupled with well-managed breath and support. While the song might appeal more to classical singers, the simplicity of the tune and chord structure could lend themselves nicely to an R&B rendering, or a light jazz setting. Adventurous popular genre singers take note: you might have something unique to add to the mix.
It isn’t what you sing that matters. It’s how you sing what you sing that matters. Establish a primary technique that you can count on and that you can fall back on as your mainstay if some of your vocal stylings fail you. But don’t let go of the stylistic singing that makes what you do what you love to do.
Want even more song recommendations? Check out our list of 400+ songs to sing for every occasion.