Learn How To Sing At Home - Shower Singing And Beyond
If you’re curious about shower singing, or want to learn how to sing at home and improve your voice in the easiest way possible, you have come to the right place. In this hub, I’m going to show you how to become better at singing without much effort and for free. All you have to do is put some time in.
I love singing. I want to sing in the shower, in the car and when I’m having a night out (I also like dancing too, but that’s another story). When I see talent shows on television with people having their moment in the limelight, I’m a little jealous of the singer's excitement and the emotional unity they are enjoying with their audience, but I’ve also got the urge to turn off the tv and have some fun with my own singing session. If you're passionate about being a singer, you can't stand by in admiration and do nothing when there's a singing fest going on!
For many years, I sang regularly in my everyday life and honed my voice and breathing. I went to different karaoke venues and won some prizes and enjoyed myself immensely. But at some point I had to face reality – at 37 years of age, with kids keeping me busy, with average looks and being a heavy smoker, I was never going to be a tv talent star or international pop singer with my voice. What I did figure out was that I didn't want to stop singing - so I kept going to karaoke, continued learning new songs and used singing to enhance my life.
If you’ve ever found yourself singing or wanting to sing at work, in the car, to kids or when you feel emotional, you too have a passion for singing. With determination you can learn how to improve your singing to be a great singer and the main effort needed is practice.
Being a singer is great! Some of the benefits are:
- It cheers you up
- You get better dates (as you can find people who like your singing)
- It makes travelling more fun
- It makes being stuck in traffic or a queue more fun
- Kids love it
- You can release your emotions
- You can be proud and feel good about yourself
- You can always have your favourite music close by
How To Sing Songs
Firstly, you need to identify a number of songs to have in your repertoire to sing. If you don’t know many songs all of the way through, try using folk songs, anthems or even nursery rhymes to practise with. If you’re really particular, you might want to find a song you really like and can learn easily and print out the lyrics.
The two main keys to getting started with singing are picking songs you feel really passionate about or that you know really well. If you can get both qualities in the same song, you have a great song you can use all the time.
The next step is to listen to how the song sounds when it is sung by someone else. Listen to a few versions if you can (YouTube is good for this) and find the one you really like.
Then, try singing it yourself. Sing like the vocalist in the version that you liked. If this is your first time singing, you’re going to feel a bit silly and probably embarrassed at the sound.
Don’t worry, this is normal and I went through it too. It doesn’t last long! If you are passionate about wanting to sing, do not let this deter you.
Practise singing your chosen song a few times the first day. You will notice, even from day one, that you will sound a little better each time as you try to hit the notes with your voice and become (even more) familiar with the words and tones.
A good trick to help is to sing along while the song is playing. This can help you get better at knowing how the song goes. This is an especially useful technique in the car, because you can sing along while being a little distracted, which helps your confidence.
Over the next few weeks, practise singing that song every day, at least once. It is even more beneficial if you can sing it four times a day or more!
Singing Loudly To Learn About Your Voice & Learning To Sing In Tune
When you feel you have mastered the general notes and words of the song (ie, you sound like you have the right tunes like the singer of the song you chose) then you can build up your lungs and practise your breathing.
The easiest way to do this is to practise singing the song very loudly. Imagine you are in a dimmed bar or pub and people are talking quietly before the show and you need to be heard fairly well by the people on the other side of the room. It isn’t shouting, but it’s almost as loud as shouting. About as loud as Whitney Houston sings “I Will Always Love You”.
What this does is make your larynx and lungs work harder and it also allows you to perfect any issues with tone and helps you learn to sing in tune. Sing the song too loudly and listen to where you could improve. Are you still sounding as good as that original singer? Have you hit the wrong notes? Is your throat itchy or ticklish? (stop when it gets itchy or ticklish). You’re getting your singer’s exercise!
Do this frequently in the car, the shower, or around the house, but stop when your throat progresses beyond the first itch or tickle. If you need more encouragement or excitement, try doing it in echoey places. Commercial buildings with concrete hallways and high ceilings are great, as are bathrooms, patios and other places you can encounter on a general walk (but don’t do it in the state library, even though it can sound really good in there).
Using locations with an echo is great for further checking of tonal ranges and keeps you on the right track for being able to sing louder and with confidence. It’s best that unless you are really confident, you do the loud singing on your own, or where you can block other people out (because at this stage, you’re going to get family members saying it sounds awful etc). Ignore other people’s opinions and seek lonely places with echos to enhance and practise and build confidence in your own sound.
It’s a good idea to do this occasionally throughout any kind of singing career or hobby – I liken it to a big sense of freedom, like flying! It just feels so good to do it. After plenty of practise on your loud voice, you’ll be able to sing loud parts in songs with confidence, without having to gasp for breath or get tired.
It's a bit like your voice starts off jogging and progresses to winning a marathon - but it can take a few months of practice, so go with the flow and enjoy learning about it without imposing time limits.
Caring For You & Your Voice
Every singing article online has something in it about taking care of your vocal chords. Here is my brief summary:
- Minimise or quit smoking if you want to keep harmonic slurs and riffs without coughing.
- Drink water whenever you need to.
- Stop singing if your throat is getting croaky and you’ve drank water already. You can damage your throat taking it too far.
- Try talking to and enjoying the company of other singers. It helps you feel like part of a sisterhood or brotherhood.
- At karaoke, always say something nice or don’t say anything at all (have polite manners!)
- Ignore people who are negative about your singing. They don’t know how wonderful it is.
- Watch out for air pollution, especially car exhaust. One big whiff of that can ruin your entire karaoke evening.
Slurring, Riffs & Experimentation
Slurring is when you go from one tone to the next (or one word to the next) while smoothing it and without any spaces or stops in it. Usually when we speak, we stop saying a word then start saying the next word.
When you have mastered some loud singing, try singing words to a song without stopping and starting them, so they blend into one continuous tune that ends in a perfect spot. This can make your singing sound more professional, exercises the lungs and vocal cords further and is also a great way to unleash any passion you feel for the song.
You are continuing to build up your lungs while doing this, because you have to have a deep enough breath to sing the whole line through. Having said this, there are some tricks to sustaining long notes and riffs in the video below.
As you master slurring, you might begin to notice that with your most favourite and passionate songs, you can sing riffs (embellishments) in the good bits and you’ll sound a bit like professional singers. It is important to nurture these riffs and practise doing them (most singers love it because it makes them sound really good).
A neat trick to do when you’re learning slurring and riffs is to practise singing while the song is playing. Sing a little louder than the artist and see if you can inject more passion into the song. If you can, you’re doing well!
Practice singing both the man’s and the woman’s parts in songs. It helps you get the most out of lower and higher tonal ranges.
Tonal & Harmonic Ranges
This is the bit where we talk about how to hit high notes singing and how versatile you are as a singer. As you’re enjoying driving around and singing to your favourite music, have a go at hitting notes other than what the main singer is singing. Can you go lower? Can you go higher?
If you’re anything like me, it’s going to sound a bit weird for awhile, until you learn to hit the right notes in harmonious, but different scales that compliments the recorded music perfectly. The key is practise, practise, practise.
You’ll learn as you go how high you can sing before it sounds terrible and how low you can sing before you get an itchy throat, off-key notes or a croaky voice. This is your tonal range and it’s best to generally stick within the range of notes you can depend on to sing, so keep this in mind when picking new songs to learn.
More Information About Riffs & Breathing
Choose popular generational songs that suit the audience to get them clapping and dancing! For example, if the audience is predominantly in the 30-40 age group, songs from the 1980s would be a good choice.
Picking Songs For An Audience
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all those drunken karaoke nights, it’s that you need to pick upbeat songs for an audience. I’ve had mixed luck with weird songs or gospel songs (I happen to love Bjork and The Seekers). Mainstream pop songs, rock songs and country songs seem to work best with audiences. We’re talking Abba, Madonna, Johnny Cash and Elvis.
Even as a fellow karaoke enthusiast, I have to say that most sad songs don’t go down as well at karaoke venues. People are there to enjoy themselves, have a drink and meal etc. The odd short sad song that is OK, but most people prefer songs that make them feel lively and cheerful.
Hence, I’d recommend picking happy songs to sing. You’ll be surprised how the happy songs can change your whole mood if you’re singing them regularly (and I used to be addicted to sad songs – it just doesn’t work with audiences).
If you can find songs that make people want to dance, you’ll do even better. This is how you win karaoke prizes – not only by being a good singer, but by knowing the best songs to pick to get everyone in a party mood.
Building Your Repertoire
I once knew about three songs. This severely limited me at karaoke and singing generally, because it was a) boring for my audience, b) didn’t grow me as a singer and c) didn’t let me practise different styles and tunes.
It’s at this point (if you haven’t already) that you need to take stock of exactly which songs you know that you’d like to sing in public. Ideally you’d work towards having about eight, then increase it to more!
To learn new songs, just print the lyrics out (they’re easily found for free online) and practise singing the lyrics to a recording of your chosen song. Do this until you know the tune inside and out. Then just practise memorising the lyrics and singing them without help. If it all seems a bit daunting, learn a verse a week and practise that.
Good Karaoke Songs For Beginners
If you’re just starting out and don’t know what to sing, try choosing a favourite out of these classics:
- “Dancing Queen” (Abba)
- "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson)
- “Summer Nights” (Olivia Newton John & John Travolta)
- “I’m A Believer” (Monkees)
- "Like A Prayer" (Madonna)
- "You Really Got Me" (The Kinks)
- "Tiny Dancer" (Elton John)
- "Black Velvet" (Alannah Myles)
- "Let's Stay Together" (Al Green)
- "If I Could Turn Back Time" (Cher)
Building Confidence With Karaoke
The first time you get up and sing in front of people it can be quite scary. You can get the shakes, the sweats and the forgetfulness. But if you practised enough, no doubt someone has wandered into your singing web. And if you sing at enough people while practising, you’ll get to hear a mixed bag of comments telling you that you are awful (these are people who hate all singers) to wonderful (these people really love you, regardless).
You’ll learn that some people will like your singing and some won’t. But I can tell you right now that many of them will think you are a brave and confident person being able to sing in front of others, regardless of how they think it sounds.
Don’t try to please everyone. Please yourself and your fans. They want to hear you put your passion in it! They want to hear your unique sound. And you also want to hear how you sound today.
Karaoke is the best place to start because the words are right there, so you can’t forget. Play with the microphone a bit so you can figure out how close to hold it to your mouth to get the best sound. Each microphone is different.
Just get through the first couple of songs and things get easier. There’ll be less sweats and more focus on your own technique. Eventually, you will get to a point where you feel like dancing a bit on stage, or where you forget the audience is there. It’s an amazing feeling! For really shy people, a couple of drinks might be necessary to help it along.
Pay attention to which songs the audience seems to like the most from you. Use those as your final repertoire songs and keep practising new ones until you have a nice collection to sing. It’s at this point you should try to win some karaoke prizes for fun. They’re not always easy as there’s many other people competing just like you – but if you forget competing and just have fun with it, the prizes will occasionally come your way.
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What To Do After Karaoke
When you feel you have mastered karaoke, then I would like to say a big congratulations and well done on all that effort and love that you’ve put into learning singing at home! The next step depends on you. If you want a career out of it, then it would be time to work with a singing coach or take lessons to advance your knowledge and perfect the bits not covered in this hub.
If you don’t want a career, then you can have other fun with singing by joining acapella groups and going to meetups with likeminded people who enjoy singing. Who knows, you may even join a karaoke team or become a lounge singer! The possibilities are endless.
Singing gives you many things. It gives you a sense of untroubled freedom, a sense of self, confidence in front of others and the ability to believe in yourself. It’s something that once you master, like riding a bike, you never forget.
Enjoy the journey x
© 2014 Suzanne Day
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