Singing For Dummies, 3rd Edition
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The craft of singing requires you to do several things at one time starting with aligning your body and breathing. Whether you’re preparing for an audition or a performance, the successful presentation of any song includes preparing yourself as well as your song.

Posture checklist for better singing

The next time you watch a professional singer, observe their posture. Posture plays a large part in how well you sing. The body needs to be aligned so breath easily drops into the body. Use the following list to efficiently align yourself for singing:

  • Feet are hip-width apart with feet parallel
  • Knees are unlocked with the weight evenly distributed on the three points of the feet — the tripod
  • Spine is long and aligned, from bottom to top
  • Head is centered over shoulders; chin is parallel with the ground
  • Shoulders are back but down and released
  • Arms are hanging at your side

Breathing checklist to improve singing

Breathing is breathing, right? Not so with singing. For singers, good breath control and strong lungs contribute to powerful performances. It all begins with knowing how to release the muscles in your torso quickly to allow the breath to fall in. Follow this checklist to ensure that your breathing helps make your singing better:

  • Release the muscles in the torso (ribs, abs, sides, and back) so each breath drops low in the body.
  • Open your throat during inhalation to prevent gasping.
  • Make sure your chest stays steady as you inhale.
  • Practice long and short phrases to develop breathing coordination for any song.
  • During exhalation (singing), slowly release the torso muscles (ribs, back, sides, and abdominal area) back to their normal resting position.

Steps for singing a new song

Learning a new song to sing can be intimidating, but by using the following steps, you can integrate a new song into your repertoire without much difficulty. As with any new skill, learning a new song is a process, made easier if you break it into manageable steps:

  1. Memorize the words as a story — write out the text as sentences with punctuation.
  2. Tap out the rhythm.
  3. Sing through the melody — without words — using a single vowel such as ah or oh.
  4. Sing through the melody with the piano accompaniment without words.
  5. Put it all together: words, rhythm, melody, and acting.

Tips for managing stage fright while singing

Facing what you’re afraid of is the first big step in conquering stage fright, also called performance anxiety. Some common fears include cracking, looking stupid, or being afraid of audience rejection. Remember that being nervous and feeling adrenaline before a performance is normal. Make a plan to eliminate the fear by following these tips:

  • Create a practice checklist to make sure you’re technically prepared for your performance and can depend on your voice under pressure.
  • Think positive thoughts and spend time visualizing exactly how you want the performance to go.
  • Sing for friends before the big performance to work out the anxiety.
  • Memorize the song early so you can combine acting and singing.
  • Build your concentration so you stay focused during the performance.
  • Rehearse all the parts of the performance from entering, greeting the audience, singing your song, and bowing, so every aspect of the performance feels well-rehearsed.
  • Create a timeline so you’re prepared. Warming up, rehearsing your song, and getting dressed all need to be included in the schedule for the performance day.

Audition tips for singers

Choosing the song is just one of the steps to prepare for your audition. Knowing how to prepare your songs increases your chances of getting the gig. This list highlights some tips to help you at auditions:

  • Choose contrasting songs that highlight your vocal strengths.
  • Pick stories you want to tell in the style of material listed in the audition guidelines.
  • Prepare your music in a notebook so your songs are easy to locate. Or bring your recording to sing along with.
  • Brush up your resume and secure an updated headshot to submit for online auditions and print out copies if you’re going to an in-person audition.
  • Ask an accompanist to read through your song before your audition.
  • Choose your outfit wisely based on expectations for your type of audition.
  • Polish your acting skills so you’re confident acting and singing at your audition.
  • Rehearse basic audition etiquette such as walking in the room with confidence, greeting the audition panel, and quickly discussing your song with the audition accompanist if the audition is live.

For online auditions, make videos in advance so you have some diverse material ready when you see the audition listing.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Pamelia S. Phillips, DMA, is the professional program director and chair of voice and music at Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) in New York. A seasoned performer, her appearances range from contemporary American Opera premieres to guest performances with major symphonies. Pam has taught extensively at such institutions as Arizona State University and Wagner College. She holds degrees in music education and vocal performance.

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