Monday, September 07, 2020

Singing harmony can be hard and scary – here’s how to make it easier

Those of use who love to sing in harmony sometimes forget how hard and scary it can be for those who haven’t tried it before.

The Watersons

Here are some handy hints on how to ease your way into harmony singing without getting too worried.

Many people sing to themselves all the time. In the shower, in cars, while jogging or walking. Most people can hold a tune in that way quite easily.

But when it comes to singing with others in harmony, especially a cappella, it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

here are some of the things that might happen

  • If you already know the tune of a song with harmony parts, you may find yourself straying back to it rather than singing the harmony you’re supposed to be singing.
  • Even if you’re pretty confident of your harmony part, the person next to you might be singing a different harmony which can throw you.
  • Sometimes you might think you’re singing the tune, when you’re actually singing a perfect harmony (and vice versa)!
  • The whole idea of harmonies might be so unfamiliar to you that you can’t really hear the difference between them – and maybe even can’t tell which is the tune and which is a harmony.
  • If you’re a woman and prefer to sing low, you might end up singing with men and that can put you off as they’ll be singing high in their range. And vice versa: if you’re a man who likes to sing high, you’ll be singing with women who are singing low in their range and that can be confusing.
  • As a singer not used to harmonies you might be tempted to hide at the back of your part, but then you can’t hear your part (or the others) and can easily get lost. Are you singing the right thing?
  • You might think you can’t sing a harmony, but actually you’ve picked a harmony that is not right for your voice.

What can you do to overcome these?

here are some articles that will help

What is harmony singing?

Why do I end up singing the tune when I should be singing a harmony?

How to know which harmony part to sing – a guide for new singers

Helping singers learn to hold a harmony part on their own

Singing in harmony – how do they do that?

When you start singing for the first time, be prepared to fail. A lot.

Singers, don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it’s the only way to learn

How do you know if you’re singing the right thing?

Mixed tenor sections: the weirdness of men and women singing the same note

How to introduce harmony to a group of novice singers

Singing in a group is a learnt skill – if you find it hard, it doesn’t mean you can’t sing


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Chris Rowbury




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