One of the most common questions we get asked by our students is “What songs should I sing?” Here’s our top tips on choosing the right song for you.
1. Pick something you like!
There is nothing worse than singing a song you don’t like. Fair enough, if you’ve been assigned it for a performance, you’ll need to work on it. But the general rule of thumb is to choose something that you want to sing, otherwise you won’t want to put the effort in. If you don’t really know what your preferred genre is, play around with different songs until you find something that fits your voice and tastes.
If your preferred taste is rock music, and your teacher is absolutely insisting that you sing a musical theatre number, ask them why. If they can’t answer your question with something that directly relates to your personal singing goals, then it might be time to look elsewhere. You need to remember that your goals are what’s important in the lesson; not whatever song they decide you should sing.
2. Variety is the spice of life!
You don’t want to get bored with singing the same song for weeks on end. Pick a couple of songs to work on, and when you finish one to your current vocal standard or better, pick another one. That way you won’t get ‘stuck in a rut’ with songs or artists.
Remember to keep it varied, pick an up-tempo song to counteract a slower song, or perhaps songs across different genres to mix it up!
3. Challenge yourself
When you choose songs, make sure you pick at least one that challenges you. It doesn’t have to be challenging vocally, if it’s challenging you musically, for example a different genre, learning to read sheet music or such like, then that counts as a challenge. Remember it’s not all about the voice when you sing, there are other factors too!
If you pick something vocally challenging, try not to go too crazy! You might want to check with your teacher that you are at a vocal level to be able to work on it. An honest teacher will tell you if you’re being over enthusiastic, and encourage you to choose something more related to your current abilities. But, be aware, an honest teacher will also tell you if your song choices are too easy, and encourage you to pick a more difficult song!
4. Audition songs
This is a big topic, and one we’ll just touch on here. Look out for future blog posts on auditions and preparations for more information. For now, lets take a quick look at choosing audition songs.
Some auditions will let you choose what song you want to sing, and perhaps only tell you a genre or have some guidelines to help you decide. This is where you need to be savvy in your choice – you need to choose a song that plays to your strengths, but not one that has been overdone. You will need to stick to their guidelines, but the flexibility means you can also be original in your choice of song. Just make sure that it fits the genre – for example if you’re going for a Musical Theatre audition, it’s probably not a good idea to turn up with a song by ‘My Chemical Romance’!
Some auditions, especially for named performances, will require you to sing a specific song for certain roles or solo parts. You need to choose the role or part that best reflects your abilities as a singer – remember its not all about hitting that high note or playing the lead! If you can sing a different song better without the high notes then choose that instead. It’s not about playing it safe, rather it’s about playing to your strengths. You want them to see what you CAN do, as opposed to what you CAN’T do!
Remember to ask your teacher when picking songs for auditions. They’ll be able to tell you what has been over done, and if you are vocally able to sing what you have in mind.
The great thing about asking Tom or Laura about choosing songs is that as IVA instructors, we have a global network of teachers and singers to ask for advice. With our 200+ strong network of teachers putting students through auditions every day, we can ask their opinions if you are unsure of a specific song for your audition.
Remember singing is all about having fun! You won’t enjoy yourself if you pick songs you feel like you SHOULD sing, rather than ones you WANT to sing. Book a lesson with us if you need some help, don’t be shy!