Get Started with Vocal Improv | How to Improvise Melodies

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This week: recording your voice, improvisation and the ultimate instrumentals.
Published: May 25, 2021

Get Started with Vocal Improv

For singers who are shy about vocal improvising, here is an easy exercise that will let you develop your ability in no time. You see, the secret to getting good at improvising or “ad libbing” is that you have to spend time … wait for it … improvising! Yes. That’s right. You must improvise in order to get good at improvising. Now, many singers will not want to improvise in front of people, if they are not comfortable with it, and that’s why you may want to begin your improvising journey in a private practice space where no one can hear you. 

The first skill you’ll need to develop is the ability to choose notes out of thin air that sound good with a given chord progression. The way to do this, is to make or find a recording where someone plays a chord progression over and over on a piano or guitar. It could be the chorus of a pop song or even just a sequence of 3-5 chords repeated with no melody. Put this recording on repeat and listen for a while. Be curious. Let the sounds sink in. Then try singing an “ooh” or a “yah” and see which notes come out of your mouth. Be curious. Don’t be judgemental. Notice if your “oohs” and “yahs” work with the chords or not. See if you can get your vocalizations to match and connect to the chords you are hearing more and more often. 

There is no need to be complicated. If you are new to this, aim for single notes as opposed to complicated riffs. Guess what? You’re improvising! Even if it sounds really simple – you invented it!

Kathy  Alexander
VP Curriculum, Singdaptive

How to Improvise Melodies

Every new song needs an engaging melody to carry the lyrics. Songwriter Laura Clapp walks you through the simple improvisational exercise of vocalizing over chord progressions to help you develop melodies.

Get Started on Recording Your Voice

Technologist, Kaitie Sly, and Vocal Coach, Mandy Bryant, share their answers to the questions about Getting Started with Audio Gear & Recording.

Interested in getting feedback on your singing? Then tryout the new way to do voice lessons.

Is This the Ultimate Instrumental Performance?

We’ve just been blown away by the discovery of Hiromi & Chick Corea improvising together on two grand pianos! Try creating some cool vocals for this…

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