Organize Your Songs

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The first thing I say to students is, “List your favorite songs you have sung; then list songs you don’t know but want to learn.”

You have probably learned more songs than you realize. Listing them is a cool project that could inspire more consideration.

After the name of each song you could write what key/style/feel /tempo you like to sing it in.

After listing your keys, you might find that you’re most comfortable singing ballads in certain keys so your “money note” can help you really make the performance incredible.

When you get a list of songs from a bandleader, sit at the piano and experiment with the keys or tonal centers singing the melody, modulating up or down, to find your most comfortable key.

I sing “Misty” in Bb, Summertime in C, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…) in Db.

Once you know your best key, your artistry has begun.

The Basics

Remember: a singer can communicate on a musical level even without a prepared chart or sheet music.

All you need to know is the key and tempo of each song, then you can be off to a great start building and developing a versatile repertoire, and will never be at a loss for a great song to sing for any occasion!

The songs you want to learn are less of a challenge because you’ve already heard the melody.

If the song has been recorded, listen to many versions of it. Your perfect version is somewhere in the mélange of different other artists’ interpretations.

And remember, once you’ve learned a song, there is no version of it that you HAVE to do! Good luck organizing your repertoire!

2 thoughts on “Organize Your Songs

  1. My name is Daphne, a childhood longtime friend of Donna McElroy’s. I naturally learned to listen to the music and tune of any song I wished to learn before remembering the lyrics. That way, I knew I wouldn’t be singing off-tune. Donna’s beautiful, natural and unique way of singing was envied by me at an early age and I knew she was “the one and only” talent. God bless you always Donna!! Love, Daff

  2. I was fortunate to have studied under Donna’s tutelage for a few years during my undergraduate studies. My life and voice well never be the same. As always, Donna has taken a subject that many times can bring a sense of anxiety and stress and broke it down in a way that is easy to absorb and apply. I love this about her!! Will definitely share this with my students. #FullCircle

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