If music takes us on a journey when we listen to it, then singing a song is like going on a road trip for the singer. Why do I say that?
As singers, we sing the melody and the words (duh!). Imagine you’re driving a car going somewhere. Along the way, there is a speed limit (tempo of the song), traffic lights (rests), bends in the road (ascending and descending melodic intervals) and at some parts of the road you go fast and some parts you go slow (different note duration value, i.e. crotchet, minim). And you drive from where you are (verse) to get to where you want to go (final chorus).
Using imageries when we sing is very helpful to get our voice to perform. A lot of times when I teach, I find that the right imagery can make the student go “aha” and get the abstract concept straight away.
Our voice is powered by our mind and imagination – like how the hands and fingers are to the guitar. As one of my wise teachers once said: “Teaching singing is like fishing. We try different baits (imageries) and see which one the student relates to the best.”
Being able to see the melody of the song helps us to internalize the melody in our mind. This is mostly true for visual learners but even if you’re not a visual learner, you’ll still benefit from having the score in front of you.
That way, you know for certain what the pitches and rhythm are, especially if you need to transpose the song to a different key to suit your voice.
Another benefit from having a score in front if you is you see the melodic contour of the song clearly. For those problematic intervals in a song, you get a visual heads-up to get ready to tackle them.
If anything, it calms the student when they can ‘see’ the song in front of them instead of just hearing it. Singing is overwhelming enough as it is – tackling one or two aspects at a time will do wonders to your singing progress.
So, the next time you practice, fire up your imagination and let it drive your singing to the next level! Share with me what imageries work the best for you when you sing by commenting below.
Benny Ng is a master singing teacher/vocal coach on the Northern Beaches, Sydney. He’s been teaching singing lessons in Sydney since 2011.