7 LEARNING and PERFORMING VOCAL SOLOS

Solo singing allows you to shine and do your own thing!  As you develop your singing technique many positive things happen: increased self-esteem and confidence, feelings of well-being, and being lifted spiritually and emotionally.

SONG STUDY

As with studying any piece of music, effective learning requires separating the composition into specific components. The addition of text makes singing unique in this respect.

  1. Read background information on the song and composer. Appendix C includes a resource list.
  2. Study and read aloud the text for meaning and clear pronunciation. Speak the text with ease without following the composer’s rhythm. Get to know how the word and phrasal stress naturally falls.
  3. Make sure you know the meaning of every word in relation to the context of the text. Use a dictionary to find alternate meanings.
  4. Sing the melody without text or rhythm. This allows you to find the shape of the melodic line without rhythmic parameters.
  5. Learn the melody and rhythm accurately and study the harmonic structure. Do cadences fall in line with punctuation? If you are familiar with the song, make sure you are following the melodic and rhythmic indications of the arrangement you are studying.
  6. How do you sing the vowels compared to speaking? Circle any words that you are unsure of the vowel pronunciation when singing.
  7. Use appropriate dynamics.
  8. Make decisions on phrasing and breathing points – #2 will help with this.
  9. MARK YOUR MUSIC! A smart musician writes in the music.

MEMORIZATION OF TEXT

Memorizing text can be easy for some, challenging for others.  Here are some strategies:

  • Write out the text and practice speaking the text OUTLOUD as a story, without rhythms or music. Use inflection, as if you are reading a story to children.
  • Use rhyming words in each verse or phrase to trigger memory.
  • Be aware of assonance (the same vowel sound) and alliteration (same consonants) help with textual flow and memory. Composers use these two techniques to make text interesting to sing and hear. They help words “roll off the tongue,” and will create a legato line.

SONG PERFORMANCE

Singers are obligated to present the musical and dramatic content of a song as intended by the composer and poet/librettist/author.  Ownership of a composition is created by including elements of the singer’s personality and how he or she is affected by the music.

The following guidelines will help you perform with confidence:

  • Enter the room or stage with confidence. Your body language will establish this.
  • Walk to the “crook” of the piano (if a grand piano), or either the left or right of an upright piano; whichever puts you closest to center stage.
  • If the audience applauds as you enter, offer a sincere “thank you” bow.
  • Calmly and clearly introduce yourself (if appropriate), state the title and composer of your song.
  • Take a moment to compose yourself – take a deep breath, release any tension and focus on the task at hand. You can do this step before you walk on stage.
  • Let your accompanist know you are ready to begin – this can be communicated through posture, breath, or a specific focus. You can nod to the accompanist, but that is usually not necessary.
  • Your main task is to deliver the meaning of the song – let this take over, and the technical processes will fall into place.
  • Stay involved in the performance through the final note of the song (this may be in the piano part).
  • After the performance acknowledge applause with a gracious bow.

You need to practice performing. Singing in a small recital or in front of family or friends will allow you to use the skills learned from this text (and accompanying class) to present your interpretation of a song. You can prepare for this by recording yourself and watching the recording. This is a great way to learn about your singing voice!  Even if you never perform a solo song again, the experience of presenting a public recital will improve your confidence, posture, and speaking voice

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