Do you think you will sound bad singing in a choir? Here are 5 keys to singing like a pro in a choir. So when I was four, I started singing in a group. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I actually got to sing a solo, which was a really cool thing and I didn’t want to go back to group singing, but I did because there is just something really cool about it. I have sung in choirs and I have sung in ensembles, have been a solo Indie artist, a church choir director, a vocal teams instructor, and I still get the same questions from singers now as I’ve heard from all of those experience’s.People seem to think that singing in a group is easy, singing a solo is harder, and somehow you’re a better singer if you get to sing a solo. Well do better singers get solos? Yeah. So does that automatically mean that you don’t have to be a very good singer to sing in a choir? NO! Would you believe that it actually takes a whole different set of skills to understand how to sing well in a group setting. Those are skills that you don’t ever need as a soloist. In that way, it is harder to sing in a group than it is to sing solo. Don’t believe me? Well think about it this way. Singing a solo you don’t have to pay attention to how your singing voice fits in with other voices, or if it plays well with others. It is your natural voice. You don’t have to compete to be heard over other parts. You don’t have to battle different personalities (unless you have several all on your own and that’s just a different episode). You don’t have the distraction of other singers weakness’s. Remember in choral music you are using your head voice. Ask your voice teacher about the best way to sing in tune and they will tell you practice makes perfect. Try this Choir Vocal Lesson below by hitting the start play and sing along.
Like people next to you who have pitch problems, or rhythm problems, or are missing the words, or they are way too quiet, or way too loud. And you don’t have to navigate through your music with a large band or orchestra which is completely different than a couple guitars, a keyboard player, and a drum. I want to make this super super clear. Singing in a choir is NOT for lesser singers. People have the impression that because a lot of groups are open to anyone, that means it doesn’t really take any talent to do it. Couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Even a really great singer will be challenged by the totally different dynamic of being in a group setting. So if you haven’t done it, for what ever reason, find yourself a choir and bring it! You’ll learn so much. Because choirs and ensembles have a number of people, you're going to have singers at different levels of ability, but regardless of where you're at, and where the other singers around you are at with their voice, you can sing like a pro in a choir by following these 5 steps.
1. KNOW YOUR MUSIC. I know, you think, “My life is busy, I’ll get there and I’ll look it up, it's not very complicated, I can figure it out.” But the truth is, if you don’t know your music by heart, when you get there your brain has to focus on figuring it out. Regardless if you don't have a classical voice. That means your brain has no time, no effort, and no room for number 2,3,4, and 5.
2. KNOW YOUR PART. You need to memorize where your part is going from unison to harmony’s and where your part is going if your singing a harmony. If you don’t its going to be really easy for you to be drug off to somebody else’s part.
Even if you consider yourself to be a good singer, you might have somebody next to you who is going in a totally different direction, either because they’re supposed to, or they forgot, and they might be singing loud enough in one side of your head that your going to be drug off in their part. If your brain already has your part memorized, your much less likely to be distracted by that and that makes everyone sound better. Consider some vocal exercises and singing lessons. Also benefits of singing sheet music with a proper tone quality can help in choir. There are many community choirs to join locally so just search around for one to suit your needs. Read music and sing in tune.
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SOMEBODY BETTER THAN YOU AND SOMEBODY WORSE THAN YOU. You’ve got two ears, that means that you have two sides and, unless your on the end of the row, that means you get to be around two people. Now I understand a lot of times you don’t get to choose who your next to but sometimes you do. So the next time that your in a group singing setting and you get to choose who you get to stand next to, that’s what I want you to look for.
Someone who you view to be better than you on one side and someone who you view to be, maybe not as good as you on the other side. Why? Well the stronger singer is going to act as a reminder when you get distracted by things and they are going to kind of pull you along and keep you on the straight and narrow, but the weaker singer is even more important for two reasons. They are going to make mistakes that you might not make and its going to distract you which is going to cause you to compensate and become really good at singing like a pro through distractions. Its and incredibly important skill that a lot of soloists just don’t have and you can develop it by doing this. The other really important part of having a weaker singer on one side of you is that you get to be their stronger singer. You’ll not only learn from being next to the weaker singer, but you will actually serve as a teacher for the weaker singer. it’s a win win!
4. PAY ATTENTION. I know it’s a given. Your going to look up front right? I’m not just talking about that. I don’t mean just paying attention to the director, but the intensity of the music. If the direction changes on the fly, you will be ready to help lead the choir where ever it should go. Pay attention to sing breathing. Not just to the director but to the music. In a rehearsal setting the director has a million jobs and all of the singers and usually the musicians to direct. But the more you pay attention to the music or where the intensity is going and all of the little nuances the choir requires to put into it, you will automatically go where the director wants you to go, even if he happens to be singling somebody else, you won’t be thinking, “What the heck is he doing over there”, you’ll be going “Ok this is where we are going, I’m there.” That make you and the entire group sound much more professional.
Now a lot of group singers will know their music, know their part and pay attention. Its kind of rare to find somebody who knows to surround themselves with somebody better and somebody worse, and it's just as rare to find somebody who really understand the fifth key to singing like a pro in a choir.
5. ENJOY IT! Let it show on your face with your singing expression. If your brain isn’t distracted by trying to figure out the music, trying to remember your part, being distracted by all the things around you, and not being distracted by any direction the director has to give to somebody else, guess what you have the time and effort to do? You get to put your shoulders back, put a smile on your face, look people in the eye and just suck in the experience.
Isn’t that why we sing in the first place? When you do the first four things, you have the freedom to do the most important thing, enjoy it. When you enjoy it, you free up your audience to enjoy the experience too. Come on you know we have all done it. We have looked at a group singing on stage and they look absolutely miserable or bored. Who wants to sit and listen to that? But you find that one face that is smiling and enjoying it and you go, yeah.
Be that face and enable your audience to enjoy what you have put into that song. Directing a singing group takes the height of multitasking and because you're doing so many things at once, a lot of times you give direction that is kind of generalized and for the individual can be kind of hard to decipher. Why is your director multitasking and not just giving you what you particularly need? Well because your directors job is not to teach you how to sing, its to get a specific group sound.
So any tips from a director regardless of their resume have to be dripped through that filter. Their job is not you. Their job is the group. But you're not a group, you’re an individual, so you have to figure out what group advice means to you as an individual. It could mean fine tuning your vocal registers or techniques on your amount of air you take in while singing. So let me help you with what you director REALLY means. When your director says sing louder or belt it out, what he means to you as an individual is press into your mix. What this direction doesn’t mean to you is to scream sing.
Most of all because it is damaging to your singing voice, and if you have lots of rehearsals and several performances, you might be out before the last show. As with many choral singers, a balanced healthy vocal range has more potential for power than any screaming voice. I have seen it time and time again, I’m telling you, its true. So if you feel tension or strain when the director says to sing louder or belt it out, then you are scream singing. Yelling basically with notes. Back off of that volume, find out what a mix is and develop that and you will be able to sing with incredible power at the drop of a hat or the point of a baton. When your director asks you to blend, what he wants from you personally is to match the tone of the singers near you. Your director just wants you to sound like one voice all of you together. This is exactly where improving your voice can benefit from singing lessons.
Vocal exercises and learning to sing
We all have different voices. You know how some people have really sharp voices and some people have really round voices, however you want to explain it. Were are different. If your voice tends to stand out easily, sometimes it's because of the texture of your voice and not really the volume. In that case you just need to feather it a little bit, and if your voice tends to be a little more muted, try to bring it up a little bit. You need to match the voices of about three people around you, the person behind you and the people on your sides. It's really important that you don’t copy the bad habits of the singers around you and to avoid their bad habits you kind of have to know what they are. I work a lot with my students with understanding what their own bad habits are and the general bad habits of people around them so they’re not sabotaged when it come to singing in a group. When your director asks you to sing airy or breathy, the easiest way for you to do this personally, is for you to add some “H”.
H is a styling tool that adds kind of angelic sound to soft parts of songs. It’s a good idea to be careful when your singing breathy and not to go too over the top. Sing breathing with the H opens up the vocal cords causing more air to go through it and, short story, it can cause swollen vocal cords. So just add enough H to match the 3 singers closest to you, it's always a good rule of thumb. Sometime a director will use phrases like, “Put the sound in the head or in the mask, or in the chest.” If you know what a mix voice is then you completely ignore this direction because a mixed voice goes wherever it needs to go when it needs to on the vocal range.
You don’t need to put it anywhere, it's already there. When instructors use the words, “Put the sound_____” , fill in the blank, usually they have learned to say that to try to make singers sing in the mix by forcing the feeling of the notes into a certain part of the body. It's not my opinion , its pure anatomy, it doesn’t work that way.
If you sing in the mix, the sound will go where it needs to go. You can’t put the sound where it needs to go and get the sound as the result. Sometimes a director will tell you to pronunciate when learning to sing in choir. The best way for you to check your words to see if you're pronunciating well, is to say your words like your speaking to someone 20 feet away, not 3 inches away.There is a little bit more intention on certain parts of the words. Don’t go over the top. A soft palat might aide from the help of a true voice teacher. Learn to play an instrument in addition to choir singing as it will give you additional confidence.
Just speak clearly, like you are speaking at a distance and they will come out just about right. \If you would like to share what you think about today’s episode, I would love that. You can just leave a comment below this post at thevoiceclub.com. You can learn how to sing like a better fast with online lessons, anywhere in the world. That’s it for this episode, Thanks so much for listening, make your plans now to join a group, and get out there and SING! Remember practice makes perfect. If this article helped you sing better, let us know. For more singing lessons visit the how to sing better page.