It is very important to get students singing songs as quickly as possible. After all, the main reason they are coming to lessons is so that they can go out and sing and have people think they sound wonderful! However, it is very important to make sure that the songs they are working on are reinforcing what you are trying to help them fix in their exercises. In other words, it doesn’t do any good to give them a powerful song that is low in their range if what you are trying to do in the exercises is to help them get more comfortable with their head voice. If the student already has a good, strong low voice, but is afraid of high notes, you are probably doing exercises higher in their range on narrow vowels like “oo” so that they can feel more release. So, pick a song that is prettier and sounds good lighter that is higher in their range. Have them “sing” the song using narrow vowels like “oo” so that they are getting used to feeling the same feeling on their songs that they are starting to feel on their exercises. If they already have a good head voice, but it is kind of light and you are trying to help them get more comfortable in their chest voice you are probably doing lower exercises with staccato or hard consonants so that they are getting more comfortable with more cord closure. So pick a song that works this same range and use the same exercise sounds on the song until they are ready to try it with the actual words.
The only time you wouldn’t do this is if they have to sing in public or in an audition. Then you would want to pick a song that accentuates the strengths they currently have and try and hide their weaknesses. However, giving the students songs that they already sound good on will do nothing to help them expand their vocal abilities and encourages them to continue to sing the same way they always have, repeating the same mistakes over and over and never really improving. Remember the way to improve is not to work on the strengths, but to expose the weaknesses and work on them.
The steps you should go through with ALL students is:
- Help them feel chest voice and head voice
- Help them get comfortable moving from chest to head voice and back again (even if there is a flip at first)
- Help them get smooth from chest to head
- Help them get strong moving from chest to head without changing voices (Mix)
- Work on sustaining and controlling notes through the transition spots
- Lean into it to build up power without falling out of their mix
Help the student notice the improvement even if it isn’t perfect yet or isn’t strong yet. Remind them that the voice goes through a process: first it gets smooth, then it gets easy, then it gets strong.