From the Edmonds Singing Teacher: How to rock your specialty karaoke song

Malya Muth
Malya Muth

The following article is sponsored by Malya Muth

Okay, confession time. I have crashed and burned singing karaoke! The few times I went, before I realized what the problem was, I hadnʼt spent much time thinking about which song Iʼd sing, or — if I did have one in mind — Iʼd just get up and wing it. Only too late, I would realize that this was a song I didnʼt really know, or couldnʼt reach the high or low notes. Iʼd strain my voice and leave the stage feeling pretty embarrassed! Iʼve been singing professionally for 20 years – youʼd think I could just get up and do it! Of course I know better.

Have you ever noticed how noisy it is in restaurants and bars where karaoke is performed? People will immediately let you know if they think you are any good or not by either being quiet or talking louder when you start to sing. During one of my early attempts at karaoke, this women got up to take her turn singing. The house went quiet, and suddenly she was a solo act, singing a beautiful song and everyone in the room was with her. What did she do to have such a successful moment singing karaoke? The answer was… she prepared!

Letʼs look at what you need to do to prepare yourself for singing karaoke.

1) Choose a song that fits your voice
Wow, easy to say — harder to decide, right? Nothing like starting with the most challenging aspect right off the bat. Here are a few ways to figure out if youʼve chosen a smart song for you.

A) How high does the song go? Can you reach all the notes comfortably? Some people — even without training — have more flexible voices because they played around as kids making funny sounds, talking high, making weird noises. Theyʼve naturally learned how to adjust their singing to reach notes way up high. (By the way – this is a skill that can be learned with a teacher to guide you.) If your range is currently more limited, then choosing a Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera song is not for you. Find a song that has a vocal range that works with your voice now.

B) If the song youʼve chosen feels mostly right, is it in the right key? Everyoneʼs voice is unique – you are not required to sing the song in the original key. So if you have a little difficulty with a song try it lower or higher. Follow these instructions from your computer to play around with a song in different keys (no music reading ability needed):
Step 1: Go to Youtube and find any karaoke version of the song.
Step 2: Open a new tab and type in
Step 3: Cut and paste the url from your video, convert it to an mp3 file, and download it to your desktop or somewhere you can find it again.
Step 4: download this free demo version of Rubber band Audio:
Step 5: Open your mp3 file in Rubber band Audio and lower it 1 step.

– Try singing in the lower key and see how it feels. Continue to play around with raising and lowering the pitches until you figure out the most comfortable version. Be sure and save this version of the song because you will need to use it for practicing! Lastly, keep track of how many steps up or down you adjusted the song.
– Voila! You have a song that works for you, in the right key. Donʼt worry about knowing exactly which key itʼs in. The KJ (person running the board) has the ability to raise or lower the pitch. You just need to let them know how many steps up or down.

Weʼre finally ready for Step 2 of preparing your song for karaoke 🙂

2) Memorize your song
Yes, you can read the words on the screen, but memorizing the song in advance has so many benefits!
a) It will force you to become very familiar with the song – knowledge is power.
b) With the words securely planted your brain, you can think of other things — like inhaling before you sing a longer line, and maybe un-tensing those shoulders!
c) Youʼll be able to play with the audience more — looking out at them, instead of the screen, having fun with the story or putting your heart and soul into it if your song is sad.

3) Practice singing to overcome stage fright
I once created a survey for my followers on Facebook to ask them what their biggest concern about singing was. The number 1 answer was: stage fright

Hereʼs what causes stage fright — fear of the unknown! Whatʼs going to happen when I open my mouth? How are people going to react when I sing? Is the earth going to open under my feet and suck me in? And here is my answer to that concern: there are only 2 ways to overcome stage fright:
a) Preparation
b) Experience
The more you practice your song, the more youʼll know about how to sing it. Be so familiar with your song — memorized — that you could sing it in your sleep. Itʼs very comforting to really have that down because there will be no surprises. Second, getting up and doing it will show you that you can survive the experience. The more often you do it, the more youʼll know what to expect. Play around, be willing to fail, but keep doing it. Youʼll learn from watching others, and noticing what you did right or wrong the last time and making changes the next time.

4) Coming Soon – my karaoke experience with Bob Moles
Iʼm heading out with my friend Bob Moles – an avid karaoke singer who is great fun performing – to create a video and try out my specialty karaoke song. Iʼll post a link as soon as itʼs ready so stay tuned!

Malya Muth specializes in helping people understand how their voice works, teaching tried and true techniques for any style of singing. She also offers a free assessment — a 30-minute Q&A session and an opportunity to get feedback on your singing. Malya offers lessons either in her Edmonds studio or online using Skype or Google Talk. To learn more, visit her website.

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