When we think about some of our favorite singers, we tend to remember them for singing a certain type of genre. Singers like Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, and Madonna all sang to different styles of music. Learning how to be versatile can be useful for you to pick up new techniques and create your own unique singing style. Learning how to be versatile also allows you to adapt to different environments and settings.
To become a versatile singer you can start by listening to different types of music. Study famous singers in a particular genre and learn their vocal techniques. You can also take singing lessons from vocal coaches that sing particular genres. If you play an instrument, try playing the chords that are commonly used in that style of music. Once you’ve learned the main techniques of that genre, practice consistently and use those techniques in your songs.
Learning a new singing style, that is completely different than the one you normally sing, can be difficult from the start. Find out more ways about how you can be a more versatile singer and what benefits there are with singing different genres.
Listen to different genres of music
Listening to different types of music can help you learn the nuances of each genre. Try picking out the vocal techniques that the singer uses in each song. Listen to how the singer pronounces some of the lyrics and holds the note. This exercise also helps with ear training and the ability to focus on special aspects of a singer’s voice. There are a lot of technical parts you can try like placement of the voice, vibrato, which register is being used, vowel sounds, and breathing. Regardless of what song you listen to, the techniques will, more likely than not, be used for singers throughout that genre.
This exercise can require a lot of work upfront, and can be difficult for beginners. But when you start hearing a pattern, you’ll get a better concept of what makes that genre unique.
You can also look at the lyrics while you listen to the song so you can get a better understanding of what the genre is about. This can help with getting a better grasp of the emotions for the song and the particular genre.
Study famous singers from that genre.
One of the most effective ways to learn a new genre is closely studying singers that are known for that particular genre. Do some research and find out who the top singers are. Study them as closely as you can. You can watch their youtube videos and pay close attention to their vocal techniques and performance.
- How do they hold their microphone?
- How do they control their breathing?
- What tones do they frequently use?
- What colours and textures do they include in their vocals?
- How are their phrasing styles?
Watching videos of these singers is so useful because it allows you to visually see how they use these techniques. It also allows you to study their mood and stance when they perform. For instance, when you watch a rock performer, you’ll notice how “loud” and energetic they are on stage compared to a singer performing jazz, who’s snapping their fingers and less loud.
Take singing lessons from teachers that specialize in that genre.
Try further immersing yourself by taking singing lessons from a good vocal coach. They’ll be able to pinpoint the main techniques of each style, so that when you focus on these techniques, you should be able to get a good grasp of the style.
You’ll also find that you’ll learn faster by having a first hand learning environment with an experienced vocal coach. They can quickly tell you what mistakes you’re making and help you fix them.
If you decide to find a vocal teacher, you will need to find someone who you can trust and will be studying with for a longer period of time. Bouncing around different teachers will definitely not be helpful with your training.
If you’re not able to find a good coach near you or if you do but they’re out of your budget, you can consider learning through an online singing course. I recommend the 30 Day Singer as it teaches the singing fundamentals very well and goes in-depth with different genres like R&B, Jazz and Pop.
Use your instruments to your advantage
If you play an instrument, you can use it to study the chords that are commonly used in that particular genre. For example, If you’re learning how to sing the blues, try out blues songs with your instrument, you’ll find that the ninth and thirteenth chords are quite common in blues music.
With your instrument, you can also compare and contrast chords to figure out the differences between them musically. Try finding the relationship between chords and see how it affects the song as a whole. By using your instrument to study the genre, it can help you build a deeper understanding of the emotions of the song. And if you use this technique over many songs, you’ll get a better understanding of the genre as a whole.
The longer you play that genre of music, the easier it’ll get for you. You may find yourself being able to play and sing at the same time!
Sing different songs frequently
Over the years, we all might have songs that we tend to gravitate more towards. Personally, I grew up with pop songs but I learned to listen to jazz as I got older and became really familiar with that genre. It’s great listening and learning all the various techniques for a particular style, but without singing the song and trying it out. It’s not going to be useful.
So put what you learned into practice and try it out. I find imitation to be one of, if not THE best way to learn a genre. Try to replicate a singer’s phrasing and their stance. Sing the way they sing and move the way they move. It could be quite funny in the beginning but it’s definitely effective. And hey, if you get good enough at it, you can be an imitation singer!
What are the benefits with becoming a versatile singer?
Being able to sing in different genres can be really beneficial for singers. Professionally and personally.
The music industry is always changing
Every year there’s always a new hit song or singer that pops up on the charts. If you compare the top songs over the years, you’ll find that the favoured genre changes over time. Years ago, jazz and blues were the popular choice amongst music lovers. Nowadays, hip hop and electronic music are the leading genres on the billboard top hits.
By being able to adapt and sing different genres, you can perform a wide range of songs regardless of what new song is popular at the time. Rather than getting left behind in the dust, you can ride the wave of the current trend!
It gives you more job opportunities
Versatile singers are known to be more in demand than singers who aren’t. It may or may not be fair but that’s how it’s been for many years. Singers who can sing multiple styles have more opportunities to sing for different shows and events.
Pop for weddings? No problem.
Classic rock for a birthday party? Sure!
Jazz at the start of a company event and ending with pop? Easy!
Being able to sing multiple styles means employers don’t have to pay for two singers. Instead they can hire one singer who can handle all the requirements for the gig.
It helps build your own singing style
When a singer studies a particular technique of a genre, they can incorporate it into their own unique style. Techniques can be mixed and matched which can make a singer’s voice pretty unique and interesting. For example, Jamie Cullum sings jazz but he incorporates a lot of rock voice elements like vocal fry and phrasing into his songs. This makes his voice highly distinguishable and stand out amongst male jazz singers.
Also with the technology being used in music today, the creativity of producers can incorporate different genres into the same song. Let’s look at Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Throughout the song, they change styles from progressive rock, opera, hard rock to progressive pop. So by becoming a more versatile singer, you can have more to play with in your songs.
Sing to a wider audience
With more genres in your bag of tricks, you can sing for different markets which means more fans! You can reach different audiences by singing their favorite style of music. Once you’re able to sing multiple genres well, you’ll get high recognition from people in the music industry as well as your fans. Lady Gaga sang pop for many years, but later on in her career, she released a jazz album with Tony Bennett. She received a lot of praise for branching out of her genre and trying something different.
Learning how to sing more than one genre can be quite different if you’ve only trained in one style from the beginning. But it’s totally worth it if you want to improve your techniques and have more fun outside of your comfort zone. Not to mention get more exposure and job opportunities. Mastering a new genre of singing takes years of practice so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Just keep listening and practicing the songs and you’ll find that that style of music will gradually become second nature to you.
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