Get The Perfect Guide to Hearing a Song Melody as a Professional Singer
One of the most commonly asked questions aspiring singers ask is, “how many years does it take to become a professional singer?” Although there is no definitive answer for this question. There are certain factors that play a part in the average amount of time it can take. There are certain elements to singing every vocalist should know before he or she are considered a professional singer. One of the main components the singer should master is being able to hear themselves as they sing and hear the song. Having perfect pitch as a singer is ideal. However, you don’t have to have perfect pitch to become a great singer. However, you do need to understand the concept of pitch, singing flat and singing sharp. Most importantly you need to be able to follow the melody of a song. You’d be surprised how many singers still have to work at this. Or had to work at this diligently before they become professionals. Like anything, with proper practice and guidance it can be accomplished. Here are 7 effective tips to hear a melody to a song as a professional singer.
Humming is one of the best ways to hear the melody of a song. In order to understand why this method is so important you 1st have to understand exactly what the melody of a song is. A melody is a series of single notes the singer or lead singer sings in a song one after another. The melody leads and harmony follows it. It’s the most rememberable part of the song. Also referred to as “the tune.” In order to hear the melody as a professional singer, you have to hear what each note is supposed to be sung as. Meaning is the 1st note suppose to start on a middle C? Is the 2nd note suppose to go up to a D or perhaps an E? Professional singers who have perfect pitch or a great musical ear can hear this pretty early on. If you can’t humming is a great way to develop your musical ear and literally catch the melody of a song. Humming is an effective method to hear a melody because once you hum your brain instantly goes to the note that’s suppose to be sung in the song. When you hum you have no choice but to sing the notes one at a time. Which is exactly what the melody is. The best way to accomplish this method is to hum the entire song until you’re in tune with the actual recording and/or background music. Humming is such a great way to strengthen your musical ear you’ll actually notice a lot of professional singers actually hum in their songs as apart of the lyrics. Below are a list of songs/performances where famous singers have hummed.
2) Hear the song key
Hearing the song key is another great way to catch the melody as a professional singer. Some of the best singing style techniques are built on having a great ear and being able to follow the music. It’s a form of improvising. The one way to get to that level is to be able to recognize what key the song is in. Then be able to sing the notes that belong in that key. In order to use this method you’ll have to have some knowledge of music theory. Even if it’s just music theory 101. You’ll also have to know what a song key is and how it works. By definition a song key, is a group of pitches that forms the basis of a music composition. For example, if a song was in the key of C major. You would have to know what all notes/pitches were in a C major scale ( C D E F G A B C). Then you would have to know what all those notes sound like and be able to sing them. This way you can now sing the melody of the song because you know key you’re working in and what notes you expect to appear in the melody.
3) Play the melody line with sheet music
As a professional singer who desires to hear song melodies better, you can always follow the melody line with sheet music. In sheet music you have the melody line, which is the part that the vocalist follow. Then you have the harmony line. This is the part the musician or the single musician follows as he or she plays for you. If you’re not great at hearing music by ear being able to read the melody is a great substitute. However, in order for this tip to work you must know how to read music. You don’t have to be as skilled as the legendary Prince in reading music. But for this tip to work you have to know how to at least read the notes you are required to sing. If you’re interested in learning the basics on how to read music then refer to our previous blog posts that explains it in 3 part.
- Music Theory 101 Part 1 – http://www.askmpublishing.com/music-theory-101-learning-all-artists/
- Music Theory 101 Part 2 – http://www.askmpublishing.com/music-theory-101-learning-artists-part-2/
- Music Theory 101 Part 3 – http://www.askmpublishing.com/music-theory-how-to-read-music-part-3/
4) Listen for large music intervals
A very effective way to hear the song melody better is to listen for large music intervals. A music interval is the distance in between two notes. Meaning when you sing one note and then go to the next note there’s a distance measure between them. They can be small or large. They’ll have a number attached to them (1-8). They’ll also have a quality attached to them (major, minor, perfect, diminished, augmented). In order to fully understand this you’ll have to know music theory 101 and make sure you study the interval section. In a lot of songs where there are big notes involved or where there is a lot of jumping around, that requires large intervals. This tend to be the area of the song where a lot of under developed singers go out of tune. However, if you have a good ear and can hear the intervals that are occurring with these big notes it’ll be easier to hit them. Studying intervals and practicing them for when you need to sing them in a song is a technique that all professional singers do. It’s a common method that’s been around since the history of singing. A great example of a professional vocalist who has a lot of large intervals in her songs due to her large range and huge singing, powerhouse voice is the legendary Whitney Houston.
5) Recording yourself
Another effective tip for hearing the melody better if you want to become a professional singer, is to record yourself. This is a very common, well known tip. You always want to record your rehearsals, practice sessions and vocal lessons. As you listen back be sure to listen and hear if you’re in tune with the melody. Another thing you should do after you record yourself and play it back is get at least one other person to hear the playback for you. You always want a 2nd opinion. However, make sure the opinion is from someone who actually knows music.
6) Practice A Capella
Although this may seem like a common ear training tip a professional singer would use. You’d be surprised how many singers only practice with the music or following the original recording. Yes you want to practice with music. But don’t be afraid to practice a few times a capella. This will give you a chance to really hear your voice. To really tune into it. This way you can correct whatever changes you need to. A lot of times you may think you’re hearing yourself but what you’re really hearing is the original singer of the song. Remember to record yourself even as you practice with no music. Also as the old saying goes “if you can sing a capella then you can really sing.”
7) Practice with the instrumental
After you practice singing a capella be sure to now practice with the instrumental. Don’t practice with the original song that has the music and the vocals. You want just the instrumental only that way you can only hear your voice. Also the background instrumental music will sometimes guide you and let you know what key you’re in or what the melody should sound like. Remember to record yourself as you practice with the instrumental. This way you can go back and hear how you sound singing along with the music. Are you in tune with the music? Are you singing with the right tempo? All these questions and more will be answered.
The best way to see results and notice growth with your musical ear using these tips is to apply them constantly. You have to make these tips apart of your routine practice. That’s the only way you’ll notice a difference. Also don’t get discouraged or think something is wrong with you for having to practice these tips. There are plenty of famous singers who work just as hard and diligently to develop a perfect ear and be great. Believe it or not the great ones work the hardest. That’s how they become great.