How Do I Start Singing Jazz?

Tutor no longer registered
Jazz/ Pop Singing By: Tutor no longer registered
Subject: Singing » Jazz/ Pop Singing
Last updated: 11/12/2017
Tags: improvisation, jazz, singing

Step 1 : Choose a Song
Because you have an interest in Jazz I am assuming that you have listened to a fair amount of Jazzy songs and have quite a good knowledge of songs you like.

Pick 1 song to start with. Preferably one that you find comfortable to sing along with i.e. the key is right for you so that it doesn't feel too high or too low.  (That's something that can of course be changed in the future.)

Make sure you absolutely love that song.

Step 2 : Get Listening
- Now listen to the song and get to know it inside and out.
- Learn the lyrics – does it tell a story? Does the story resonate with an experience you may have had? Or someone close to you may have had?
- Notice if it's fast, medium or slow tempo
- What instruments do you hear?
- What is the structure ie.  Verse, Verse, Chorus, or any structure that you can recognise?
- Is there a key change?
- What kind of dynamics does the singer use? i.e. singing quietly, breathily, loudly.
- What style of jazz is it? Traditional, modern, swing, big band swing etc.
- How does this song make you feel? Happy, sad, something else?
- Close your eyes whilst listening and you may find this will heighten your listening skills.

Step 3 : Isolated Listening
Listen through the song focussing on one instrument at a time, i.e. just the base, just the keys, just the drums, sax etc, just the Vocals (lead and or backing vocals). So now you know your lyrics and you have an in-depth knowledge of the geography of your song.

Step 4 :  Start  Singing
If you know a good jazz musician, ask him or her to play the song for you or, if you have chosen a well-known Jazz Standard it's very likely that you can easily get a good backing track. See below for a list of resources.

So armed with a good musician or a good backing track you can start singing along. I suggest if you are not confident start by singing along in more or less the same way as the original. Pay attention to:

- When you start singing e.g. after 2 or 4 bars and you are prepared for the ending.
- You need to make sure you are in time with the musician/ track.
- Where the verses and choruses are. 
- Get familiar with your backing track too because it may be different to the original track you listened to.
- You will find that singing yourself will feel very different to singing along with the original vocalist/musicians. Embrace that feeling and 'go with the flow'

Your aim is to sing through to the end of the track keeping time, staying within the structure of the song and most importantly ENJOYING YOURSELF!

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