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Karaoke Fun! Singing Tips

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Tips for Singers:
Tips For Song Mastery
by Richard Baisner

The following is a strategy I’ve developed that has helped me tremendously in performing new songs, especially if the song is unusually difficult, or has a lot of lyrics.

Step 1: Get the original song.

In order to perform the song as close as possible to the original artist, you must listen to the original song over and over again. On average, I listen to the original version about sixty times (I have a lot of time on my hands). For the more difficult songs, I have been known to listen to the song over two hundred times to get it right! So, the first step is to get a hold of the song performed by the original artist. If you don’t have it already, try calling your local music stores, see if you can order it through the internet, or maybe borrow it from a friend.

Step 2: Create a lyric sheet.

Even if you already know how the song goes, creating a lyric sheet will help you tremendously. It’s a lot easier to learn a song if you can see the words "visually" while simultaneously listening to the original artist. Some CDs and tapes come with the lyrics as well, which is always useful, but if you don’t have them, try searching the internet. Otherwise you might have to listen to the song and write down the words by hand. If you have a Karaoke machine at home, you can buy the actual Karaoke version of the song, and press "pause" at each screen of lyrics to write them down. This is very useful because you won’t be surprised by any "ooh’s" or "ah’s" that might pop up unexpectedly when you’re on stage, and also because many times the Karaoke CD has the wrong on-screen lyrics. Most of the time I type the lyrics into a word processor so I can easily go back and edit the lyrics as needed.

Step 3. Record notations onto the lyric sheet.

While listening to the original song, follow along with your lyric sheet. Make sure the lyrics are correct, and write down any "ahh’s," "mmm’s," or whatever you hear during the song that might not be included in the lyrics. Once you have the words down, you can begin working on creating a notation system to help you remember how the song goes. For example, when a syllable of a word goes up in pitch, I draw a line above the syllable.

If it goes down in pitch, I draw a line underneath it. For words that are sung with no pause in between, I usually put a hyphen in between them. If there is a longer pause between two words, I put a comma in between them. Sometimes I change the spelling of a word on my lyric sheet if it helps me remember how the original artist sings it. For example, the artist may pronounce "baby" more like "bay-bay".

For words that are sung with no pause in between, I usually put a hyphen in between them. If there is a longer pause between two words, I put a comma in between them. Sometimes I change the spelling of a word on my lyric sheet if it helps me remember how the original artist sings it. For example, the artist may pronounce "baby" more like "bay-bay".

Step 4: Practice, practice, practice!

At this point, I listen to the song while simultaneously reading the lyric sheet over and over until I can sing the song without looking at the lyrics. This forces me to have the song memorized. Memorizing the song will helps in many ways. It builds self-confidence while you’re on stage, you are more relaxed, and you can walk away from the screen or look at the audience if you like, which is always impressive. Once you can sing the song without hesitation, you’re ready for the spotlight! Do you want to go a step beyond? So far, you’ve been practicing while listening to the original artist. For the ultimate test, see if you can sing the song without the original artist’s voice … without looking at the lyrics. If you have the Karaoke CD version of the song, you can listen to it in a regular CD player and sing along. If you don’t have the Karaoke version of the song, consider asking your local Karaoke KJ to record the song (without a singer, of course) onto a tape for you to practice with.

Good luck and happy singing!

(reprinted with the kind permission of
Richard Baisner a.k.a. Grateful)

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