A Tale of Sight Singing And Neglect

Going Down

18 days into the month, and I haven’t written an introductory post yet. This sad story of neglect carries into my skill acquisition as well, as I’ve only practiced 3 hours at this point. I shan’t let this hold me back though, and am still going to write an introductory post, and hopefully get at least 10 hours of practice in this month.

Target Performance Level:

Be able to effectively sing the correct notes to a song I’ve never heard before a capella, by simply following sheet music.

Skill Breakdown:

Like any musical skill, sight singing is done by producing the correct notes with the correct rhythm. Since it’s singing, you ought also to produce the correct words.

Rhythm is basic enough (although can still be a challenge), so the greatest difficulty lies in singing the right notes. The most confusing part of music is that everything is not in the same key. This adds a layer of difficulty to following music for most instruments, but especially so for singing. How are you supposed to tell if a given interval is a half-step or a whole-step? Major or minor? At first I was going to memorize where all the half steps were for each key signature, but then realized it would be much easier and likely more effective to just make note of where the tonic was, and from there easily see where the third and fifth lie. With the little bit of practice I’ve done so far, this seems to be working out quite well.

I have a book of lots of old popular songs from the 1920s era such as would be sung by college glee clubs. I am unfamiliar with most of the songs, which makes them prime candidates for my exercise. Before singing each song I play the scale of the key the song is in, to acquaint my ear. I then give myself the starting note, and work through it, using helping notes from the piano as little as possible. As I progress I should see less and less assistance being needed.

My only wish for this month is that I was a Tenor, as these songs often go quite high.

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