Lots of illness goes around in the fall and winter, and it’s hard to sing. You certainly should not strain your singing voice when you have a sore throat or a head cold.
So, are these days and weeks simply lost time? Hardly. Here are a bunch of ways to keep learning and growing even when you can’t sing much… or at all.
Practice Singing Intervals
Play a note on a piano or guitar. Then give yourself a random number between 2 and 8. Then sing that interval relative to the note you played. For example, if you played a D and said “3”, then sing the (major) 3rd above D, which is F#. If you played a D and said “8”, then sing the D an octave higher. If that’s all easy for you, try intervals in between, such as flat 5 or major 7.
Practice Interval Recognition
Close your eyes and play two notes. Practice identifying which interval you are playing.
Sing Harmonies on the Fly
If you can sing even a little,then just sing along to the radio or a CD, making up harmonies above the main melody line. Listen to where it’s easy and where it’s hard. When it’s hard to find a harmony, what makes it hard?
Have Some Listening Sessions
Put on some headphones and listen to a song. See if you can hear all of the instruments and what they’re doing. Can you hear each component of the drum kit? How many guitars are playing? Are there any strings? What synthetic or electronic sounds do you hear? Are there any vocal harmonies buried in the background? Listening in this way will actually help you start hearing more parts in the music over time, and will help you develop the skills necessary to partipate in decisionmaking in the recording studio.
Memorize a Song or Two
Just ‘cuz you can’t sing right now doesn’t mean you can’t work on memorizing a song you’re planning to perform. Even if you don’t have a gig right away, go ahead and memorize a song that you want to perform someday. The more work you do memorizing now, the less brushing up you’ll have to do later.
Think About Your Musical Goals
You may know that you want to sing, but what does that mean? What does it look like? Flesh out the picture with as many details as you can. Grand piano, cocktail dress, and classic jazz in an Italian restaurant? Funky dance music and platform shoes? Heartfelt solo singer-songwriter in a coffee shop on a Saturday night? Pop star with six backup singer/dancers in a 30,000 person arena? No live performance, just session recording for anyone who’s hiring?
Visualize Your Next Performance
When, where, and how are you going to move on stage? What should each song look like and how should it feel? Where are the dynamics? How will you express the climax of the song? You can plan all this while lying down with your eyes closed!
Write Some Lyrics
No singing required. Just let it flow. Allow no inner critic during the creative stage! Or, work on shaping or polishing some lyrics in progress.
Practice an Instrument
If you don’t play an instrument at all, at least find a guitar or piano to use, and teach yourself where the notes are on the keyboard or fretboard! If you do play an instrument, well, go play around and maybe even write a song.
Learn Some New Music Theory
If you don’t know any music theory, pick up a basic book at a music store. If you already know some music theory, move ahead and learn some more. Learning music theory will help you communicate with the other musicians in your band, be able to write songs, and figure out more interesting harmonies.
Participate on Vocalist Forums
Read about singing and connect with other vocalists on Harmony-Central, Vocalist.co.uk, or my student forum. You may find friends, support, and opportunities there. (I have connected with two UK artists via these forums so far, and have recorded session vocals for their tracks.)
(c) 2009 Adrienne Osborn