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Singer Performance Skills BlogThere’s a secret reason and wonderful result achieved when you practice the melody separately from the lyrics.

Some years ago, while I was helping an experienced singer learn a song for her next show, I noticed that certain spots in the song sounded off. Perplexed as to what was causing this, I began to troubleshoot. Instinctively, I asked her to sing the melody of the song without the lyrics. While she knew the words, we discovered she actually did not completely know the melody. As a result, there were sections of the song that sounded uncertain and imprecise.

I had her practice the melody using a single vowel sound like “ah” in place of the lyrics until she could sing it easily and with certainty. With that achieved, she sang the song with the lyrics, and the transformation in her level of confidence and vocal tone was stunning. I have used this technique with singers ever since, and it always produces remarkable results.

When we practice each element on its own, we strengthen control and knowledge of that aspect of the song so that by the time we make a whole cloth out of the song again, we’ve achieved a level of familiarity and control that far supersedes a haphazard learning process.


  1. Marilyn Middleton Mellor on August 25, 2014 at 2:12 AM said:
    An Excellent suggestion. I have 4 students ,at present, with pitch problems. I am the only one in the area who will work with pitch problems and am always looking for more ways to correct the problem. I use right brain stimulation (wiggling of fingers on left hand and looking to the left) but this suggestion will, I am sure, help greatly. The light goes on over my head with a "Why didn't I think of that" comment. Thank you again for your wonderful help.
  2. David Martin on August 25, 2014 at 3:13 AM said:
    This reinforces what I teach my students - that we never "sing' words. We make the continuous sound and place the words "onto the sound" - this way we achieve smooth flowing singing, that is not 'choppy', and we are more able to control fast passages. Helps to stop the words getting in the way of the overall presentation. Thank you that is a great tip and I will use it. Kind Regards, David
  3. Jeannie Deva on August 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM said:
    Dear Marilyn and David, I'm glad you like this tip. It's nice to have other vocal coaches involved in the dialogue.
  4. lynn kiesewetter on September 29, 2014 at 8:51 PM said:
    Marily, can you give some other info or steer me towards more info about "right brain stimulation" by wiggline left hand and looking to the left? sounds intruguing. thanx, lynn
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