Steps for Singing a New Song

Learning a new song to sing can be intimidating, but by using the following steps, you can integrate a new song into your repertoire without much difficulty. As with any new skill, learning a new song is a process, made easier if you break it into manageable steps:

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  1. Memorize the words as a story — write out the text as sentences with punctuation.
  2. Tap out the rhythm.
  3. Sing through the melody — without words — using a single vowel such as ah or oh.
  4. Sing through the melody with the piano accompaniment without words.
  5. Put it all together: words, rhythm, melody, and acting.

Singing Voiced and Unvoiced Consonants

Students often ask about the correct pronunciation of words for singing and speaking. Knowing the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants can help you figure it out.

  • Voiced consonant sounds are produced by adding vocal sound. An example is the letter M. If you say the word make, you have to add sound to the letter M before you even get the vowel. (Other voiced consonants include B, D, G, J, L, N, NG, V, W, Z, and ZH.)
  • Unvoiced consonants are produced by momentarily stopping the flow of air and making no voice sound. The unvoiced consonant has sound, but the sound comes from the flow of air. The consonant T is an example. If you say the word to, you don’t make any sound with your voice until you get to the vowel. (Other unvoiced consonants include CH, F, K, P, S, SH, and WH.)

When you’re sounding out the ends of words, follow these general rules. The ed at the end of a word is pronounced with a D sound if the ed is preceded by a voiced sound (vowel or consonant), as in the words headed, lingered, and roamed. However, if the ed is preceded by an unvoiced consonant, it sounds like a T, as in such words as picked, yanked, joked, and wrapped.

You may also notice that some consonants can be either voiced or unvoiced based on what follows them. For example the th in bath is unvoiced, but the th in bathe is voiced. Sh in the word shoe is unvoiced, and zh in the word visual is voiced. J in the word jump is voiced, but ch in the word champ is unvoiced.

Because most printed dictionaries don’t include a guide on which consonants are voiced and unvoiced, you can search for pronunciation websites to hear a particular word pronounced for you.

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Vibrato Singing Styles

Vibrato, the variation of a sustained tone or pitch, is one of the differences between singers and styles of music — how much vibrato they use and whether they use it all the time. Some of the common patterns of vibrato styles are:

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  • Classical singers use vibrato on sustained tones except in some contemporary or modern music and early classical music. For this material, they use straight tone and vibrato.
  • Musical theater singers use both vibrato and straight tone. Vibrato is commonly used in earlier musical theater and straight tone is often used in contemporary material. Musical theater singers often start the note with straight tone and then allow the vibrato to come in.
  • Folk singers tend to use straight tone and some vibrato. The rate or variations in pitch during vibrato are not as drastic in the folk singer compared to the classical singer. If you think of vibrato as an ornament to the sound, then the classical singer uses lots of vibrato to ornament the material and the folk singer uses only some vibrato.
  • Rock, pop, country, and R&B singers often use straight tone and some vibrato on sustained tones. Because these styles of music have fewer sustained tones than classical music, the singers have fewer opportunities to use vibrato; therefore, it isn’t considered a characteristic of the style.

    That doesn’t mean the artists don’t use it, but they use it more sparingly than a classical singer. The artist singing the style of music may have to adjust the use of vibrato when singing different styles of material because some artists cross over between styles of music.



Figuring Out Falsetto Singing

The male voice has three singing registers, similar to the female voice: chest voice, middle voice, and head voice. The difference for the male singer is falsetto the lighter part of your singing voice that sounds feminine.

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The notes in your falsetto are in the same range as your head voice, but the vocal cords are thin, like a stretched-out rubber band. Falsetto feels lighter or higher than your head voice. If you attempt to sing really high notes, you may even flip into falsetto.

Falsetto is an important area of your voice and needs to be developed to strengthen the head voice. Your head voice may be weak in the beginning of your singing training; you can explore sounds on high notes by singing in your falsetto and then later, when you have more strength, work on the same notes using your head voice.

When the muscles that create head voice get stronger, you’ll be able to sing the same notes in head voice that you originally could sing only precariously with your head voice or in falsetto. Experience the sounds that you can make with falsetto, and strengthen your falsetto.

You may hear voice teachers referring to falsetto as your head voice, but using both terms is easier so you know exactly what kind of sounds to make.


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How to Adjust the Truss Rod on a Bass Guitar

As the weather changes from season to season, the wood in the neck of your bass guitar can bend or straighten slightly. If you know how to adjust the truss rod on a bass guitar, you can counteract those changes and keep your bass sounding great.

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Changes in temperature, pressure, and humidity can cause the wood to bend. The change in position can cause the strings to either pull away from the frets or rest against them; this makes playing almost impossible because the strings need space to vibrate freely over the entire length of the neck.

There needs to be a slight gap between the strings and the frets. To determine how much action is enough

  1. Press the E string down at the first fret with your left hand and hold it.
  2. Press the E string down at the last fret with your right hand.

This should open up a gap between the strings and the 7th and 12th frets (about the thickness of a credit card).

If the curvature of your bass neck is not correct, you need to adjust the truss rod. To adjust the action, turn the screw in the truss rod to change the curvature of the neck.

  • If the gap is too large, insert the Allen wrench or Phillips screwdriver into the screw (located either on the headstock or at the other end of the neck) and then tighten the truss rod by turning the screw clockwise.
  • If your strings buzz when you play on the first four frets (near the headstock), you need to loosen the truss rod by turning the wrench or screwdriver counterclockwise.

Generally, you’ll want to use the small Allen wrench that comes with your bass. If you lose this wrench, you can get another one from your local music store or the bass manufacturer. On other basses, the screw of the truss rod requires a Phillips screwdriver.

Don’t try to force the truss rod with anything that doesn’t quite fit. If you strip the truss rod, it’ll cost you. Turn the truss rod only between one-quarter and one-half of a turn per day. You need to allow the wood to settle before you do any more adjustments.


On some basses, you have to remove the neck from the body in order to reach the truss rod screw. Don’t attempt to loosen the screws at the back of the bass that hold the neck in place without first loosening the tension of the strings. Otherwise, the neck will snap off, stripping away the wood that holds the screws.



How to Clean a Bass Guitar

No matter how careful you are, your bass guitar is bound to collect battle scars. You need to know how to properly clean a bass guitar if you want yours to last for years to come. If you play your bass regularly, it needs to be cleaned regularly, and each part of the bass requires specific cleaning methods and materials.

The first step in cleaning your bass is to wash your hands. Really! The finish on the wood and hardware shows every fingerprint. So the least you should do is keep those fingerprints clean.

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The body and neck

You need to clean the body of your bass very carefully. You can polish the finish with a clean cloth (such as an old sweat shirt), but use guitar polish (available in a spray bottle at any music store) instead of furniture polish.

  1. Apply a squirt or two to the cloth and work it into the fabric.
  2. Rub your bass down — work on the body (front and back) and the back of the neck.

The hardware

The tuning heads, bridge, and strap pins are all considered hardware — that is, all the brass and metal parts attached to the wood except for frets and pickups. Just rub the hardware down with a dust cloth to keep it shiny. If the hardware is really dirty, use a mild brass polish from the supermarket. Just make sure you don’t get the cleaner onto the wood.

The pickups

The pickups accumulate a lot of dust. Use cotton swabs to clean the area where the wood meets the metal of the pickups.

Whatever you do, don’t use any liquids to clean them. Pickups are magnetic, and they can’t deal with liquid. The liquid can cause them to short out, making it necessary to replace them. Of course, getting new pickups every four weeks is one way to keep them clean.

The fingerboard

The fingerboard consists of two major parts: the long wooden strip on the front of the neck and the metal frets. Because these two parts are made of very different materials, each needs to be cleaned in its own special way.

The fingerboard can be cleaned only after removing your old strings — before restringing.

  • The wood: The wood on the fingerboard is prone to drying out. To restore the wood to its original luster,
    1. Get rid of any dirt using a dry cloth.
    2. Place a few drops (no more than five) of fingerboard oil (which you can get from your local music store) on a clean cotton cloth and work it into the wood.

      Let the oil dry thoroughly before rubbing down the fingerboard again to remove any excess oil. Apply oil to the wood every other time you change the strings. The wood absorbs fingerboard oil easily.

  • The frets: Polish the frets with an inexpensive jewelry polishing cloth that has polish already soaked into it (available in any supermarket).

When polishing the frets, don’t use the kind of abrasive jewelry polish that you have to pour out of a bottle. It’s too rough on the wood of the fingerboard.

The strings

Your strings take the most abuse, so they also need to be cleaned. Whenever you finish playing, always wipe the strings with a dry cotton cloth. But it is important to do a deeper cleaning on a regular basis.

  1. Let a couple drops of rubbing alcohol soak into the cotton cloth.
  2. Put a moist section of the cloth between your index finger and thumb and pinch one string at a time.
  3. Rub the cloth up and down along the string’s length.
    Proper string cleaning technique.

    Proper string cleaning technique.

Don’t get any of the alcohol on the wood; it’ll dry it out.



What to Include in a Cleaning and Repair Kit for Bass Guitar

Before you attempt any adjustments or cleaning for a bass guitar, you need to assemble the right tools. Knowing what to include in a bass guitar cleaning and repair kit will ensure that you are prepared for any necessity. Pack the following tools in a tool bag that you keep with your bass.

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The basic contents of a bass tool bag.

The basic contents of a bass tool bag.
  • Truss-rod wrench (this is usually the Allen wrench that comes with your bass)
  • Screwdriver or Allen wrench for every screw on the bass

    A multi-screwdriver tool is okay, but you can get more leverage with separate screwdrivers. Make sure that you have a screwdriver or Allen wrench that fits the screws for the saddle.

  • Rubbing alcohol (make sure it’s in a bottle that won’t leak)
  • Cotton rags for cleaning (make sure to replace them once in a while)
  • Super-fine steel wool
  • Colorless nail polish (or a color that matches your bass)
  • Electronic tuner (this needs to be part of your tool set if you adjust the intonation yourself)
  • Wire cutters for changing your strings
  • Jewelry polish cloth for polishing the frets

Be sure to keep your bass tools separate from your household tools so that they won’t get lost or damaged.



Breath Control in Singing

Gaining coordination of the muscles that control breathing takes time and consistent practice, but is essential to improving your singing. Athletes know that they have to train consistently to teach the muscles in their body to respond exactly the way they want, singers are no different.

Over time, the muscles remember how to move and you don’t have to think about it. You want this to happen for breathing and singing: You want to practice the breathing exercises enough that you can rely on them to work efficiently so you can focus on the story you’re telling.

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Athletes also know that working out and doing physical conditioning is crucial to develop the ability to transport oxygen quickly throughout the body. When you’re singing, you’re moving a lot of air and your body needs to be in good shape so you can handle the endurance required to sing for an entire performance.

You don’t have to be thin, but you have to be in good shape. Your workout at the gym also helps your breathing for singing.

Pushing yourself just a little beyond your comfort zone helps you develop stamina and endurance. Your muscles may feel warm or tired after you work on the breathing exercises, which is perfectly normal. Extreme fatigue is a sign that something isn’t right in your practice session, but it’s normal to feel tired and need to rest for a time before you can practice more.

To give yourself an opportunity to work on more advanced breathing exercises, keep reading and working through the exercises. They aren’t too advanced for you, especially if you’ve been exploring other exercises and are comfortable with what moves as you breathe.

If you’re new to singing, moving too quickly to the advanced exercises without practicing the basics doesn’t give you an opportunity to make the movement a habit. It takes some time to make correct breathing a habit, but once done, you won’t have to worry about changing gears when it’s time to sing.


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Singing Slowly

Think of a song that gives you trouble when it comes to managing the long phrases. It can be a hymn or familiar tune in which you just can’t quite conquer the phrases. Some familiar tunes with long phrases are “Danny Boy”; “Come Unto Him” from The Messiah; and “Over the Rainbow.” Sing through the song to refresh your memory of the words and the tune.

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When you’re ready, sing through the song at a slow pace. You want to sing more slowly so you extend your exhalation. By singing more slowly, you have to figure out how to extend your breath over a longer period of time. Singing faster songs with short phrases doesn’t require a long exhalation, and it doesn’t require that you control your exhalation over long phrases.

Practice the exercise that follows to move on to the next level of breath control so that you can manage your breath easily during longer phrases.

  1. Sing the song slowly.If you’ve chosen a long song, sing through part of it. If you’ve chosen a shorter song, sing it all the way through.
  2. Sing through each phrase with a consistent exhalation for a smooth, connected line.Make sure that you inhale slowly before the beginning of each phrase.
  3. Sing through the song again slowly, but inhale quickly, while taking in the same amount of air that you did when you were inhaling slowly.

Be careful not to gasp when you’re singing through this exercise; open your throat and allow the air to come in. Gasping prevents you from getting the air in quick enough.

In exhaling, your ribs and abs must be moving in. Then try letting the abs move while the ribs stay open.

Gaining weight or losing weight quickly can totally confuse your body. If your body is used to moving a certain amount of weight around, it affects your breathing. You have to slowly get used to your body being a different size after the weight change, especially if you’ve gained weight. Take your time when you lose weight to allow your body to slowly adjust.


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Breathing Basics for Singing

Normal breathing involves a shallow inhalation and an even exhalation followed by a pause before it all starts again. But when you sing, breath control means taking your breathing off autopilot. You not only need to inhale quickly and exhale slowly as you sing the phrases of a song, but you also need to maintain proper posture.

Breathing in this manner provides you with the breath control that you need to sing efficiently. However, because controlled breathing doesn’t come naturally to you, you need to train your body to breathe for singing. Keep reading to walk through the breathing basics.

Discovering your singing breath

The easiest way to find out how you should breathe for singing is simply by feeling it. Being able to visualize and feel the proper way to breathe helps make the process more natural for you, too.

Inhalation refers to air moving into your body — breathing in. Exhalation is when you exhale or blow out the air. You exhale when you speak or sing.

Inhaling to sing

Singing songs requires getting a full breath quickly — a quick inhalation — because the orchestra can’t wait five minutes for you to find the air. So knowing how your body feels when you inhale helps you to get air in your body quickly to sing the next phrase. Use the following exercise to explore your own inhalation. Get a feel for how your body should move when you inhale and exhale.

1. Pretend that air is really heavy as you inhale. Visualize it weighing 50 pounds and let it fall low into your body.

2. Let it fall lower than your belly button. Explore this sensation.

3. Then let the breath fall in faster. Still visualize it being heavy but let it fall quickly into your body.

4. You can also fill your lungs as if you were going to blow up a balloon. You will feel your abdomen and lower back expand.

This sensation of quickly filling your lungs with air is how you properly inhale for singing.

Yawning happens all the time when working on breath control. The body gets confused with the different amount of air coming in, and you yawn. Voice students yawn plenty during lessons and are embarrassed at first. Don’t worry — it’s okay to yawn when you’re working on your breathing.

Exhaling to sing

Singing means that you have to control your exhalation. You want to have a sustained and smooth exhalation. This control helps you to sing those demanding high notes and long slow phrases.

To explore exhalation, blow a feather around the room. If you have a spotless house, you’ll have to use an imaginary feather.

1. Try to blow the feather really high up in the air and use a long stream of breath to get it to go up.

2. Try not to collapse your chest as you blow the feather.

3. While chasing the feather with your breath, notice what moves in your body as you exhale. You should feel that your abdomen has slowly returned to normal and that your chest has stayed in the same position the whole time.

4. At the end of the exhalation, you should feel the need to immediately inhale again.

Posturing yourself for breathing

Breathing efficiently when you sing is a combination of great posture and skillful inhaling and exhaling. Remember the importance of good posture; it allows you to get a deep, full breath. If you slouch or you’re too rigid, your diaphragm locks and prevents you from getting a correct breath for singing. If your breathing and your posture work together as a team, you can improve your singing.

To sing your best, you want to develop good posture while you breathe. When your body is aligned correctly, taking and using an efficient breath is easier.

Your own two hands can help you to maintain great posture while breathing. As you work through the breathing exercises, place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your abs. As you inhale, use your hand to feel whether your chest stays steady; you want it to stay in the same position for both the inhalation and the exhalation. (If your chest rises during inhalation, you create tension in your chest and neck.) With your other hand, feel it moving out with your abs as you inhale and back in toward your body as you exhale.

Positioning your body to feel breath

Different body positions also help you to feel your breath movement. Moving through different positions can help you feel the movement of breath.

Start flat on the floor and gradually work your way up to standing. It’s great to work your breath on the floor, but you can’t perform on the floor. You have to get up sometime and breathe correctly, so it may as well be right away. By starting out on the floor, you’re able to totally focus on breathing and the movements in your body. By gradually working your way up, you can continue exploring the same movement of breath while working your way up to standing. Some singers have trouble finding the right movement for breathing when they stand. When they begin on the floor, they often find a sense of release in their body and can really feel the movement.

Lying on the floor

1. Lie down on the floor or bed with a heavy book on your abdomen.

2. As you inhale, you should see the book rising up then lowering back down as you exhale. If you don’t see the book moving, notice what’s moving as you breathe. Feel the sensations in your body. When you inhale, your lungs expand and take in air. Your body, specifically your abdomen, moves out as you inhale.

3. As you exhale, the air is leaving your body, and you should see or feel the abs moving back in. This movement happens because of the air moving and not because you move your abs. You can bounce your abs without breathing, but that won’t improve your singing.

Getting down on your hands and knees

1. Get down on your hands and knees. Yes, you need comfy clothes to survive these exercises. In this dignified position, take some slow breaths and notice what you feel moving in your body.

2. During inhalation, your abs fall toward the floor.

3. During exhalation, your abs move back in with the outgoing air. If you feel just the opposite motion, try it again.

4. Your chest should stay steady and not collapse.

5. Notice how your back expands out with the inhalation.

When you’re successful and feel the correct movement of your body and breath, try the next exercise.

Squatting down

Squatting is just as exciting as getting down on your hands and knees, and it requires comfy clothes, too.

1. Squat down on the floor.

You can keep your heels on the floor or lift them up off the floor. You can also place your hands on the floor to steady your balance. Don’t fall over!

2. As you inhale, notice the movement across your back.

What you want to feel is your abs moving out and your lower back expanding as you inhale. If you’re not sure about this breath movement, change your position just a bit. You don’t have to be in a squat exactly.

Slumping over

Slumping is illegal among singers, but don’t tell anyone.

1. Stand up and slump over.

2. As you’re slumped over, feel the movement in your body as you breathe.

3. Release your neck so that your back can stay pliable for breathing.

4. Notice that when you take in the air, you can feel the lower abs moving out, because they’re all flabby from being slumped over. Those of you who are really thin, you may not feel your abs move much in the beginning. That’s okay. You can still acquire great breathing habits for singing.

5. Notice also that your lower back opens as you inhale. Try to let your ribs close slowly as you exhale instead of collapsing right away.

These charming, physical positions help you to feel the breath moving in your body. Try standing tall and notice what your body does when you take a breath.

It’s okay if you’re really confused right now or feel short of breath. Feeling short of breath when you begin working through these exercises is normal. Be really patient, and you’ll begin breathing efficiently. It takes a while to create a new habit in your body, and breathing for singing is definitely new. Your inhalation was perfect when you were a baby. If you watch an infant breathe, they know exactly what to do. As you age and your life becomes more complicated, stress affects your body. You start to carry unnecessary tension in various parts of your body, which can prevent you from breathing correctly. Your body gets stressed out. buy dave grohl dg 335 guitar


Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Guitar I