Guide to Choosing the Right Songs

Weekly Teaching Tip – Oct. 10, 2016
by Aimee Geddes

I have recently added master classes to my studio and have found it to be a very enriching format for my students. They all seem to enjoy working together and hearing each other progress throughout the year.
For my teaching tip today, I wanted to share with you the first class we did this year as it is a great way to set them up for the year and to get them making great repertoire choices.
What to consider when looking for a song that is right for you…

1. What are my vocal Technique Goals?
a. Do I want to sing higher,
b. Gain more power?
c. Have more emotion when I sing?
d. Work on my mix?
That should be the first goal, since it is hard to work on the next steps unless you are singing songs that help you expand your technique and help you achieve those goals.

2. What are my Career Goals as a singer?
a. Do I want to be on Broadway?
b. Do I want to sing in a rock band?
c. Do I want to sing in choir?
d. Do I want to sing in the shower for fun?
This will help them and you choose appropriate songs. First of all they know that they want songs to help them with their technique, but songs that they can also add to their line up if they have a concert or performance or audition coming up. It wouldn’t make sense to work on all pop music if you are planning to have a career on Broadway. If you find yourself singing songs that don’t help you in your career, either your career goals need to change or your songs do. You can find out where your heart is by what you are naturally drawn to.

3. What is my Type?
a. This includes many factors and is not just for Musical Theater Actors.
b. Consider your look: Hair, weight, clothing style, hair color and length
c. Who do you look like? What celebrities do you look like?
d. What other singers do you sound like?
e. Is your vocal type Gorgeous Soprano who can take on Reverend Mother in Sound of Music? Or do you look like you could be Carrie Underwood’s little sister and are the next big wave in big and belty country music? Whoever you look and sound like is the genre you will most likely fit into, so you want to pick songs that those people sing and learn from that category.
f. It is a lot easier to change your look than you natural vocal quality, so if your voice and your look don’t match, start adjusting your look to match your voice and choose songs that match your voice.

This may seem obvious to us as teachers, but if you always have a student who keeps brining in songs that just don’t work for them, maybe it is time to have them evaluate these things. They need to be aware of what they want and where they currently are. If you can help them see themselves from the outside by guiding them through these few simple steps, it will help them grow.

I also made a list of 2-4 songs for each student in case they had a hard time coming up with songs, but they followed the guidelines above. Students in the class also gave suggestions on what songs they thought would work for each other after hearing them sing and knowing what their goals were.

One last tip…A singing journal. I gave each student a notebook and told them to keep all of these things recorded (goals and type, etc.) in it and bring it to each lesson. Whenever they have a song idea or hear a song they want to learn, they are to write it in their singing journal as well as any other epiphanies that strike during lessons. Then they have a companion to their recording that will help them study better.
I hope this helps! Good luck in your studios and I hope to see many of you at the Atlanta Conference!

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