How To Learn A Song

When learning a song, a lot of beginners tend to jump right in, singing words with pitches and rhythms, trying to apply technique and emotional expression, all at once. There are a couple of things that make this way of learning not always successful, for instance, it’s easy to make a mistake and notice it while trying to keep track of everything else, it’s also easy to build up tension habits which are often our response to trying to do too many things at once. So this is one way to go about learning a song, (not the only way) and if you haven’t tried it, please do! It gives you a deep understanding of the song and keeps trouble spots from every becoming trouble spots to begin with. It also helps you memorize the song in all its aspects so that if you forget one thing like the next word to sing, you’ll remember everything else (like the pitch, rhythm, etc) which all tend to remind you of what that next word is. It’s an awesome system!

1. Learn the Rhythm

Take one page (or smaller if the rhythms are particularly challenging) at a time and practice the rhythm until you can do it correctly three times without error.

2. Learn the words

On that same page, practice the words seperately from the rhythm at first. Once you feel comfortable with the words, that is, they feel easier to pronounce than they did when you first started and you’re able to speak them without stopping the air(except for breath marks) then:

3. Add the words to the rhythms

Begin adding the words to the rhythms. Think about what are the most important words in each phrase, and how much rhythmic time the composer gave each of those words. Do you agree with his/her choice? Ask yourself that when you practice.

4. Learn the Pitches

On that same page, practice each pitch out of rhythm and tempo. Are there any intervals that seem tricky? Practice those especially. Once you can sing each pitch on an “O” vowel without stopping the air (except for breath marks) then:

5. Pitches and Rhythms

Add the pitches to the Rhythms. Continue using the “O” vowel. Once you can do that, then add only the vowels from the words on the first page.

6. Pitches and Rhythms and Words

Once you can sing each vowel with each correct pitch and correct rhythm, then add the consonants so that you’re singing the actual words.

7. Work out the kinks

This is the part where I give specific exercises that help you get through problem spots. Be patient in this area and use exploratory awareness outside of the lesson to help you. Remember, if you’re still having trouble in a particular passage after several minutes don’t keep practicing it, leave it alone until the lesson time where I can help you.

8. Frosting

This is definitely the funnest part! This is where you think about the meaning of the words and use your facial expressions to show that meaning, as well word painting to make an audible representation of the emotions in the song using vocal stylings through the vowels, consonants, dynamics, tone quality, etc.

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