Selecting the Right Songs

Teaching Tip of the Week – March 6, 2012

Singers either intentionally or unintentionally imitate the singers they listen to and sing along with. As such, it is important that teachers help their students select songs that will encourage them to sing well. The main thing to consider is the range of the song. If the student has a tendency to sing only in their chest voice and is uncomfortable in their higher range, it doesn’t do them any good to sing songs or sing along with singers that sing exclusively in their chest range. It is especially dangerous for them to sing songs sung by singers that squeeze and pull their chest voice into their higher notes.

It is important to find songs sung by singers that demonstrate good technique. Sometimes with current popular styles it is difficult to find songs and singers that demonstrate good technique. Very few popular female singers are singing in their head voice, let alone their mix. Most are staying in their chest voice and when they do sing a little higher tend to pull up their chest voice for those notes. However, there are some singers and songs that do force the singer to get into their mix and into their head voice if you look for them. (Demi Lavato, Carrie Underwood, Beyonce for example.)

Perhaps the height of good pop singing technique was in the 1980s. I have had success slipping some of these songs into the student’s repertoire on occasion. Even though the songs are old, there are still many good songs that the students enjoy singing and even feeling the challenge. I let them know that if they can sing these difficult songs that all the current songs that they want to sing will be really easy. (Early Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Regina Belle, Luther Vandross, Steve Perry, etc)

It is important to allow students to sing songs they like, but it can also be very beneficial for them to sing songs that are challenging and make them sing in areas that they need to work on. By having them sing along with singers that sing with good technique and sing in their mix the student will hear how it should sound and will have a better chance of singing with good technique themselves.

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