This is the first of three posts on my pedagogical songbook Sing Well Songs - composed to support singers develop vocal technique. These simple songs are unison. They would be useful for warmups and home practise for choristers, or as tutor books for singing teachers. There are eleven songs - too much for one post, too many to share over eleven weeks, so I'm publishing them in clumps - over the next three weeks.
Last year marked 30 years since my very first singing lesson. I had always sung and loved singing, but I wasn't a natural. I was a breathy, uncertain teenager with a breathy, uncertain voice, and when I sang, my friends used to roll their eyes and tell me to shut up.
Even with lessons, I was slow to improve. Months after I started learning, my high school ran auditions for The Wizard of OZ. I was a short first year, perfect munchkin height, but I didn't get in to the chorus. I still remember the feeling - sitting there in the school hall after all the successful names had been read out, embarrassed, hurt, disbelieving.
I kept going and got better, although I still haven't been a munchkin. Learning singing taught me two things. I learnt how to sing but more importantly I learnt that singing is something people can learn. It isn't natural for everyone, certainly wasn't natural for me, and there's nothing wrong with that. This lesson has shaped my whole approach to music as a singer, teacher and composer.
Last year I composed a collection of pedagogical songs for folks learning singing. These songs each focus on and support one technical aspect of singing. I wrote them to be very simple and easy to sing. but I also wanted them to be genuinely beautiful songs. They are incorporated into my online singing course Sing Well, but I'm keen to share them here, for free.
1. She Shines Like The Sun
This song is crafted to help beautiful breathing. There is space between phrases to let the belly relax and gently expand as you breathe in. The phrases start with sibilant consonants, to help engage the belly as you exhale to sing. I played the introduction for too long. Sorry about that!
2. Welcome Home
Welcome home is another song for focusing on beautiful breathing. The consonants are soft, the vowels are round and back. Every breath in is an opportunity to relax the belly, and also create a sense of easy, open, relaxed throat and jaw. The job of singing is to keep this lovely feeling in the throat and mouth as you sing.
3. Measured Moments
This song has forward consonants and vowels to help singers with breathy and/or weak tone. The consonants bring the sensation of the voice forward into the face. As you sing keep the sensation of the vowels in the same place as the consonants.
4. Far From Home
For folks who have pressed, hard voices this is a soft song to work on making singing less of a battle. The consonants are airy - keep the sense of breeze, of a little air from the consonants through the vowels. The sensation should be that it feels too easy. Perfect!