As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”. This is even truer for any musician who wants to sing. Whether you learn to sing with singing lessons, in a music school, as part of a gospel choir, or in the shower, you’ll quickly learn how enjoyable it can be singing your favourite songs. From listening to singing is to go from a passive participant to an active participant in the world of music.
While singing at home can be really enjoyable, there’s nothing better than interpreting some of humanity’s most beautiful songs for an eager audience. Whether you like jazz, pop, reggae or classical concerts, there should be something for the soundtrack of your life.
Lullabies from a Young Age
You can get into singing at a very young age. In fact, children can be exposed to music during pregnancy and there are singing lessons available for very young children.
Babies, love music, after all. Children can learn to sing in the same way that they learn to speak either their own or a foreign language. Not only do children have beautiful voices and a range that works particularly well for certain types of music (like church choirs), they learn quickly and have an adaptability that we tend to lose as we get older.
Additionally, careful use of the vocal cords will help them to sing in tune as well as protecting them from the inevitable tightening of the vocal cords that occurs in later life. The breathing techniques they’ll nurture will also help improve their health and fitness.
With so many songs for children, a voice coach will be able to find plenty of different ways to keep child students interested in learning to sing with music from our own childhood.
While it might be difficult to remember the words after all these years, there’s always the internet, an invaluable resource where you can find almost anything, both good and bad, including lullabies and nursery rhymes from yesteryear.
You can have fun teaching your student or child all the nursery rhymes you learnt growing up.
Despite what some may think, nursery rhymes and lullabies aren’t necessarily bad pieces of music. In fact, Mozart composed the music that we commonly associate with songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, the “Alphabet Song”, and “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”. They’re all variations of his piece “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman” which was obviously a French song.
Learn the Classics
Almost everyone has gone through a phase where they dressed like their favourite pop stars and performing artists or adopted certain elements from their fashion. While these celebrities have outrageous lifestyles that most of us can only dream of, it’s never stopped us trying to emulate certain elements of them.
However, this is quite different to the lives our ancestors led. In the past, long before recorded music, workers in the fields would sing to themselves to pass the time and music used to be used to pass local tales from generation to generation.
There were plenty of choirs around the country and singing aloud was far more commonplace that you’d first think. In fact, the “Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho” of the dwarves wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Around the turn of the century, political parties used songs including Land of Hope and Glory, The Red Flag, and The Land.
While certain families may remember the anthems of political parties, music was passed down through choirs and associations such as the army, scouts, navy, etc. A lot of these pieces include lyrics written about certain events and are sung over music that already existed.
However, in the case of “Jerusalem”, the music was written over a hundred years after the lyrics which were taken from the William Blake poem “And did those feet”. Then there’s “Land of Hope and Glory”, another British patriotic song that was written by Edward Elgar, a composer famous for all his patriotic music.
However, it might surprise you to know that Elgar took a huge amount of inspiration from continental music (which you should, too!).
You’ll probably be familiar with his work if you’ve ever watched The Proms. The Last Night of the Proms, which has aired annually since 1953, regularly features Elgar’s work as well as Jerusalem. That said, there’s so much more to The Proms than the last evening, you should check out as much of them as you can. The programme runs for 8 weeks, after all.
The Best English-Language Music
One of the huge advantages of speaking English is the sheer amount of music that’s available to any aspiring singer. You can start learning these songs before you’ve trained your musical ear. There are also so many choices that you can practise singing almost every type of music. This also means that you’ll be able to work on your elocution.
If you’re looking for pop rock, there’s the most famous acts like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones from the 1960s (and onward). They’re a good way to get into the music without risking your throat too much.
Since you probably already know the most famous acts in the English language, let's have a look at the songs of France and the most famous singers from across the channel.
Broaden Your Musical Horizons with French Music
Until now, we’ve mainly focused on classical pieces. Popular pieces that are timeless and, while they won’t be topping the charts any time soon, they’ll still be a popular choice. Let’s move away from British classics and consider music that isn’t in our mother tongue. These pieces can help you significantly when it comes to singing.
If you head across the channel, you'll see that France has a rich musical landscape and a beautiful-sounding language (the language of amour) to go with it. Additionally, there are plenty of French songs that you can sing without needing a music PhD.
In the first half of the 20th century, France gave rise to a number of famous singers: Edith Piaf (who gave us Non, je ne regrette rien and La vie en rose), Jacques Brel, and Charles Trenet (I bet you didn't know that Across the Sea was originally written by a French singer!).
If you want to dive even further, there’s also Georges Brassens and Bobby Lapointe. These artists made music simply with just a guitar and recording quality that left a lot to be desired. The choruses have a degree of familiarity that seem to throw the music classes we took in school out of the window.
During the post-war period, French pop music started being increasingly influenced from across the Atlantic and new genres were springing up all over the country. The singer-songwriter and all-round performer Michel Polnareff, Jean-Jacques Goldman, and Claude François were all hugely popular.
France isn't the only French speaking country with great musicians, the French-Canadian Céline Dion started her career with French-language songs and representing Switzerland at the Eurovision song contest.
Charles Aznavour was famous for his qualities lyrics and Francis Cabrel and Serge Gainsbourg (whose song Je t'aime... moi non plus was banned from the radio in the UK) were superstars in their own right.
Henri Salvador’s lyrics were a thing of beauty and you should check out some of his songs like Jardin d’hiver and Zorro est arrivé. Jean Ferrat was famous for his political music.
While the list could go on and on, we’ll mention just a few more names like Maurice Chevalier, Michel Sardou, Marc Lavoine, Daniel Balavoine, Juliette Greco, Georges Moustaki, Alain Bashung, Yves Montand, Claude Nougaro and Serge Reggiani.
There’s also Johnny Hallyday (who recently passed away), Lara Fabian, Calogero, Alain Souchon, Patrick Bruel, Florent Pagny and Renaud. With all these names, you’re bound to find some amazing French music to listen to.
These are the names that will fill up any French dance floor and should even get the most serious singers tapping their foot. Additionally, if you want to sing opera, it wouldn’t hurt to be able to sing a bit in French.
If you're more interested in modern music, there's also the Belgian artist Stromae who blends hip hop, house, and electronic music with fantastic melodies. (you might have heard his international hit Alors on danse).
There are plenty more that we’ve missed out but these names should be enough to get you started and if you’re listening on Spotify or on YouTube, the suggestions provided will help you explore even further. Just like in English, you can get rap, gospel, soul, hip hop, religious music, etc. in French, too.
Whether you’re in the shower or in the car, working with a private singing tutor or not, famous songs are some of the best ways to improve your singing voice. Don’t ever forget that you should always learn to sing for the love of singing before you consider singing as a career!
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