4 Songs to Practice Your Vocal Technique & Style

In last week’s blog, we took some time to discuss a few of the top guitar songs from a variety of different genres, each of which could be used to help learn a slightly different aspect of the guitar.

We’re going to continue that theme this week, but switch our focus a bit. Rather than give some advice that only a segment of readers might be able to use (like talking about a specific instrument), this week we’re going to explore some songs for practicing your vocals!

Now, I know, not all our readers are aspiring singers, but everyone sings, even if it’s only in the shower or when stuck in traffic. Either way, these are fun songs to sing!

And if you are a vocal student, or want to be one, it’s important to realize that you don’t need to stick to practicing boring vocal exercises over and over again to learn good singing techniques. And you absolutely shouldn’t completely eliminate any vocal styles from your singing in an effort to train your technique. In fact, the more styles you practice and study, the stronger your own technique will be.

Your technique and style go hand in hand in the training process, and are best developed at the same time.

But before we get to the songs I suggest you try practicing with, I have a few tips on technique and style, and how to choose the best songs, to think about before you get started. First, technique and style:

8 Tips for Technique & Style for Beginner Vocalists

1. Anything you can sing can be used as a vocal exercise. Anything.

2. You can treat vocal exercises like they ‘re songs.

3. The best way to learn a song is by breaking it into two parts: its technique, and its style. Learn each separately, and then fuse them.

4. A song sung technically and a song sung stylistically will be very different.

5. There are more and less efficient vocal techniques, and there are more and less efficient ways to apply style.

6. Technique without style is boring.

7. Style without technique makes for an incomplete performance, and can lead to a deterioration of skill.

8. Technique enhances style. Style informs technique.

Now let’s get to choosing the music!

How to Choose the Best Songs

Picking songs to sing can be hard, especially if you’re just getting started, or if you’re trying to move into a more difficult or extensive repertoire. That being said, having a nice, broad appreciation for genres and styles can be the most fun you’ll ever have with your voice. So try to keep these few tips in mind when thinking about your practice song choices:

1. Is it the Right Key? – As you browse through song choices, you might notice different performers choose different keys. If a song feels too high or too low for you, see if you can find it in a key that’s more comfortable.

2. Is it Comfortable? – Key isn’t the only metric of comfort in a song, so even if you’ve found the right key for you, the song may still stretch your skills uncomfortably. While that is a great way to improve, it’s okay to admit something is too much for now, and to put it aside for a few months.

It can be tempting to sing songs that don’t quite fit your voice, especially if you love them, so try to keep this advice in mind. Exploring your voice with a wide range of styles and genres can be a lifelong journey, so let’s get started with a handful of suggestions!

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Weiss, Peretti, and Creatore

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Weiss, Peretti, and Creatore, and in this case performed by Michael Buble, is a great song for learning to release long notes. Holding a clear and even tone over a long note is one of the hallmarks of a good singer.

This song covers a range of one octave plus two notes. Try singing it in two or three keys to work on intonation throughout the voice range, as well as work through the breaks or register shifts that sit in the middle of the melody.

“Unchained Melody” by North and Zaret

The timeless and ever-popular tune “Unchained Melody” by North and Zaret, sung here by the Righteous Brothers, is great for practicing intervals with clear tone quality, while staying on the rhythm, and keeping each note in tune. Kick it up a notch by singing the Italian version, called “Senza Catene!” The Italian vocals are fantastic practice for good singing, and you really don’t need to speak Italian to sing in Italian.

And there’s an added bonus: singing in a language that you don’t speak or understand can actually help you focus on your technique instead of your performance. This is great for singers who have a hard time separating themselves from the words they’re singing to focus on technique.

“Ave Maria” by Vladimir Vavilov

Though it’s often thought to have been written by Baroque composer Giulio Caccini, this incredible vocal selection was actually written in 1970, by Vladimir Vavilov. This tune features long lines with a centered tone, coupled with the need for well-managed breath and support.

At first glance, this song might be more popular with classical singers, but the simplicity of it makes it perfect for style experiments. The chord structure in particular lends itself to R&B or light jazz. If you’re adventurous, you might have your own spin to add.

“Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley

Did you know that “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley was one of the first song to become a hit before it was even released? Elvis performed it on a TV show shortly before it was officially released, and the next day millions of advanced orders were placed.

This is a great love song with memorable lyrics and a nice and easy melody. A simple key change is all it takes for either men or women to sing it. And even if you don’t posses Elvis’s trademark vibrato, it’s still a great song to showcase your individual voice.