This post is for singers and voice students learning a new song. So, your teacher gave you a new song, now what? First, voice students should learn some basic music theory skills. If you want to sing and be able to learn new songs on your own – basic music reading is a must. You may not always have a teacher around who can break songs down for you by rote (the listen and repeat method). These skills can be obtained as part of your individual voice lessons in most cases and/or by taking a brief introductory class in music theory. Here are some things you can do on your own in between lessons to learn a new song:
1. Speak the text. Speak the words as if you were saying them to someone. It also may be a good idea to write the words out on paper away from the musical line. If the song is in another language, be sure you are stressing the correct syllables as you are speaking it. (Your teacher can help you with this).
2. Speak the text in rhythm. Speaking the text in rhythm will help you learn the rhythm of the song, and aid in memorization. Also, the stresses and emphasis that you may have found in step one, should be supported by how the composer set the music.
3. Sing the melody on your favorite vowel. Taking out the words will help you find the optimal placement for your sound and allow you to focus on other fundamental things such as breath management, dynamics, and color.
4. Isolate problem spots and work them out of context from the song. For example, if there is an interval that is particularly challenging, work just those two notes. Sing the notes and all the ones in between going up or down and then reverse the direction. This allows you to be comfortable and confident with the distance you have to travel from note to note. When you put it back in context, it should be easier.
5. Interpret your song. Even if your song is in English, you have to interpret it. “Rewrite” sections of the song in your own words. You have to really simplify the song and get to the heart of the message. Then you will be able to more effectively communicate with your audience.
All of this work could be done without the use of a piano or any accompaniment. Hope these tips help voice students enhance (or begin) their practice regiment.