Written by: Team @sing2music
Choosing the perfect song to cover can be particularly tricky, especially for beginners. It can be easy to get caught up in all the elements that go into a performance, as well as hyperfocusing on a single factor while overlooking all the other important ones. Each singer has something unique to bring onto the table, so it’s crucial that your repertoire plays to the particular strengths and weaknesses of your voice. Here are some of the best tips and tricks to help you identify what works best for you.
Sing what you love…
…But don’t rely on love alone. This step is definitely important, but it is worth noting that feeling passionate about a song is not exactly enough to make a performance stand on its own. That being said, it’s undeniable that a performance lacking passion is likely to come across as bland – and probably forgettable.
Leaning towards the music you naturally feel drawn to singing is always a good feeling to rely on when starting to choose your next cover. Your voice is the instrument that will better translate and respond to your emotions on the spot, so take advantage of it.
It’s also good to remember that everyone feels connected to certain songs, and that includes your listeners. Because this is such a familiar feeling to most of us, it is pretty easy to spot when someone isn’t relating to what they’re singing. Basically, performing songs you don’t particularly enjoy is not only unpleasant for you as the performer, but it negatively affects the audience’s perception of your performance too.
Stay within range
There’s no escaping from this one: your vocal range is one of the most decisive things when it comes to performing a song. It’s easy to spot when a performer is trying to reach notes that are far away from their range, no matter whether they’re trying to go higher or lower than what is comfortable. Nobody enjoys struggling to hear breathy and whispered low notes, in the same way that strained or ear-piercing adlibs can be extremely bothersome.
Because of this, knowing your vocal range well and finding songs that are in that same scope are crucial steps into finding the perfect track for you to sing. Start by figuring out how far your instrument can go, and then look for songs that stretch enough to fit within that spectrum. Don’t worry too much about a song being entirely too high or too low, though, – those are easy to transpose into a key that you’re comfortable in – focus more on how far apart the highest and the lowest bits of the melody are from each other.
Find your own style
There are several ways of finding and figuring out what style suits you best. Sadly, there are no specific set of rules to this, since personal style is something very relative and particular to each performer. However, there are exercises that can help you understand what feels more comfortable and what better suits your voice.
A good starting point can be researching and referencing singers that you enjoy listening to, and/or who have a vocal range similar to yours. What do these artists have in common? What is unique about them? What are the elements that you would like to replicate or to add your own twist to? And what would you change entirely?
Recording and listening back to yourself singing songs in different genres of music can also be very helpful. Sometimes you might feel comfortable singing through a song but, when you listen back to the recording you might realise that it lacks excitement or perhaps a “wow” moment. Try and find a balance between what is comfortable and what sounds interesting, but most importantly stick to what feels genuine.
Try again… and again
Like pretty much everything else in life, singing is about practising. A lot. Songs tend to seem a lot more difficult on the first listen than they actually are, and they might appear to be even harder when you try and sing them for the first time. If you choose a song that you love and falls within your range, but still feel like you don’t sound great after attempting it, try it a couple more times before officially giving up on it.
At the end of the day, most of us are our biggest critics, so when in doubt it’s always worth it to ask for feedback from people close to you. This can help not only by giving you a confidence boost, but getting constructive criticism from a fresh set of eyes – or ears, in this case – can be key in exposing ways in which you can improve your performance.
One of the best things about singing is the freedom of self-expression that comes with it, and covers are a great way to explore that while also sharing your love for a particular track or artist. Practice, research and, most of all, enjoy the process!
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