5 Ways You Miss Out When You Only Sing One Style

Jumpstart your love life, make your parents proud, and impress friends on the fly --- here are five ways you miss out when you only sing one style.

BY KEN COOPER
May 14, 2018

A lot of singers get in a rut singing just one style. That’s a lot like speaking one language - there is so much music you are missing out on if you let yourself get limited. There’s also your vocal development to think of. Each style of singing helps a different aspect of your voice grow. Here are some ways that learning other styles of singing can boost your opportunities and relationships in life.

1)   Get awesome chops for Karaoke night (or Smule).

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like singing karaoke for impressing one’s friends (and the whole bar). While karaoke night can be a time to just relax and let it all hang out, it’s nicer when you feel good holding a tune, sing a song everyone loves, and see some smiling faces out there. It’s much better than feeling scared, not knowing any good tunes and seeing twisted foreheads and people covering their ears looking worriedly back at you.

Likewise, it’s a lot of fun to meet other karaoke buffs on Smule and feel good putting yourself out there for the world to see and for other singers to collaborate with. Those with the best songs get the most exposure, and you can only do the best songs if you get comfortable with more than one style. You might enjoy singing R&B, country, pop, jazz, musical theater or Disney songs. You might like classic rock, folk, alternative, or classical music… whatever music you like to sing now, you’re missing out if you don’t consider music from other genres.

You may think you don’t have the belt to sing pop, or the high end to sing classical. You may worry that you don’t have the twangy accent for country or the cool factor for alternative. Maybe you feel stupid singing songs from a genre or just feel you’re a “certain” kind of singer. While it’s true that we all have strengths and weaknesses to our voices, it’s kind of silly to pigeonhole ourselves with singing without really giving a style a real shot first. If there’s a song you love, go for it. Try it out, work on it. Without singing a style you can never master it. The first step is to get used to singing the new style of music. In time you will have more versatility and singing songs from other styles will get increasingly easy.

2)   Do your friend a favor.

Save the day (or the year!) singing at your friend’s (or your sister’s or your cousin’s) wedding. Special events are great occasions to use your skills to give a meaningful gift. Whether it’s a bat mitzvah, funeral, wedding, or other special occasion, a personal friend or relative singing something for the event is usually much more meaningful for the hosts than anything else could ever be.

A common problem is that it can be nerve wracking to accept. You may know a lot of the people who are going to be there, or maybe you don’t know a soul. If you’re not used to performing often, this kind of event can be at least a little daunting. If you’re in this situation, it might be a good time to check out a vocal coach and let him or her know about your performance goals. (link to performance goals section of 3rd Dr. Bridges article here)

With practice, if the song is in the right key for your voice, and is modified so that it’s at the right level for your experience, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to prepare that song to sound really good at your event with a few months notice, some solid training, and a good vocal coach’s input.

3)   Surprise your significant Other.

The voice is a powerful tool. We all know it intuitively, but put it to work and watch it do wonders. Have you ever serenaded your guy or lady with a guitar in the candlelight after a home cooked (or Ubereats) dinner? A lot of songs can be adapted to sound great with an acoustic instrument, like a guitar or a piano. You could also sing with an instrumental track or karaoke file. Or, you could make a recording of a song for your loved one and either send it to him or play it for her in person.

Even better, write the song yourself. If you’re used to singing in multiple genres it’s going to be so much easier to find something appropriate for the occasion. A classic jazz ballad or folk song, a slow song from a musical, or a ballad from country or rock could do the trick… whatever you choose, it’s the thought that counts, and you can be sure that someone is going to appreciate the gesture more than the actual performance. But it never hurts to sound amazing. ;)

4)   Make some money.

Here’s a fantastic reason to learn lots of songs from various styles. Yes, you can make money and lots of it. There are countless restaurants that need live music to set the scene, especially if you sing jazz. There are endless weddings, funerals and other events that need singers. Family events like these may need you to sing classical or church music. Churches in general are great places to get gigs since they can’t always find the right singers for choir and many have a budget to pay singers. If you read music and are good with sacred and classical styles, it’s definitely something to look into. If you can get cast in a professional musical theater show, or can win a talent show, you can make money that way.

The big thing is, you are surrounded by opportunity. The better you can sing various styles, the better you can compete for gigs and paid jobs. The more vocally versatile you are, the more opportunities you’ll have. There’s no way around it, dollar signs are for singers who can make the most of whatever opportunity they wander into. Being limited by style is silly if that’s your aim.

5)   Make Mom or Pop proud.

Most parents are already proud of their kids and what’s the big deal anyway, what do we care what our parents think? Yeah… speak for yourself. Singing is still one way a lot of us still get the attention and validation we seek from our parents. It’s a natural thing and hey what’s not fun about surprising them with how great you are at something they had no idea you were working on?

Imagine breaking out into song at a parent’s 50th birthday party or anniversary party, or just any old time after dinner or during a holiday. There’s nothing better for a parent than hearing their child’s gorgeous singing. Likewise, if you’re the parent, maybe you’d like to sing at your kid’s wedding or surprise him or her with a gorgeous tune out of the blue somewhere to mark a special moment. When it comes to doing something special for loved ones it often goes both ways. But most importantly, whoever you’re trying to impress, it is ultimately yourself who wins no matter what when you learn songs in lots of styles. When you broaden your musical vocabulary, there is so much more you can do with your voice, and so many more opportunities you can make the best of.

So what are you waiting for? Get singing, and make the most of your voice!

About KEN COOPER

Ken is originally from Massachusetts and studied English and voice at Colby College before developing interests in writing, editing, media production, web development and photography. He has worked as a photographer as well as on startups and other businesses, and studied nutrition, carb restriction, and ketogenic diets. As a long time musician and performer, Ken has an extensive catalogue of his own songs and plays throughout Massachusetts and New England. He is very interested in songwriting and instrumental composition, musical performance, and online vocal instruction. Follow him on Twitter.

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