Recently, having a chat to fellow music educator Chris Mountford, founder of The Band Project. He runs this , I run this….

Chip Jenkins - Brighton Singing Lessons
Chris Mountford
Basically, we began our chat about how to develop the vocal side of things at the Band Project to just keep making his vision of his amazing project just better, and better, and better!

Whilst the demographic of those that we teach is different; he teaches young people, I tend to teach adults and advanced singers, we both had the realisation that in fact we are motivated by common goals!

One key developmental area, is to assist musicians and singers to incorporate good listening skills.

I have found that the highest quality vocalists are the best listeners. Nothing escapes their keen focus when it comes to music, chords, ad libs. musical instruction etc. As they listen, t’s as if they are calculating the brain and muscular skills they need, to be in the strongest position to create sound with their voice.

Of course, this should be in tandem with the correct vocal or musical training routine to ensure that your method of producing sound is safe?

So, here are some things to consider – how loud is your rehearsal room? Chris made the excellent point that as a “youthful musician”, we have all passed via the stage of rehearsals, where each band member battles to hear themselves! (Boy, am I glad that this days are over!!!)

So, as a fun exercise, why not write down a list of 10 things that you need the skill of listening for?

This is my list:

1. Listening for dynamics – the more you anticipate the loud and quiet parts, the more fun you can have “shaping” the song whilst creating even more emotional reaction in the audience!
2. Listening to the original singer to work out how they applied their vocal technique – just like a sort of a “vocal detective!”
3. Carefully listening to the balance of band members at soundcheck. Remember that before the audience arrive, and when their physical presence and clothing is in the room, this will absorb sound differently to before the gig in an empty room!
4. Listening to harmonies, different voices need to blend the component parts of the chord – keyboard or instrumental skills can really help you with your pitching!
5. Listening to vocal embellishments whilst breaking them into smaller sections
6. Listening in order to make notes about the track you are intending to sing. Did the singer use syncopation, or vary the melody line at all?
7. Listen to potential objections from other band members about turning down their instruments – this always helps to resolve the problem and hopefully find a work around ;-)
8. Listen to lots of varied types of music and constantly making up new harmonies (or copy the existing ones) as a way of strengthening your ear.
9. Listening out for the use of mixed voice
10. Finally, a fun one! Listening to your adoring fans’ appreciation at the end of a performance! It certainly make the pack down and lugging around heavy equipment so much easier!

Have fun!

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