Recently we talked about creating a group of “anchor songs,” songs you like to sing because they make you feel good, confident, and are fun to sing.
But even though they get you pumped or focused, some of those songs might not suit your voice well should you decide to include the song in your set at a club, party, or other gig.
So, we thought we’d offer some tips for putting together anchor songs that can be also be great to use in auditions or include in performance because they showcase your strengths and suit your voice.
The A List
To get started, make a list of your favorites that you love to sing, those songs that make feel good, empowered, focused, and confident. They can be sad songs, spiritual songs, torch songs, power ballads, rocking anthems – and from any genre. Just make a list of songs that appeal to your heart and soul!
Group By Genre
Next, you want to group your songs according to genre. This may be tough since a lot of music is fusion or eclectic and mixed genres, like county-rock, blues-pop, folk-jazz, and so on.
Just group them as best as you can. It will give a read on your musical tastes as a singer, what you like to listen to, and you can compare that with your natural vocal qualities like phrasing, color, tone, range, and so on. It will help you think about your voice and the style of music that you feel it is best tailored for.
A Handful Of Hopeful
Pick a handful that you’re most attached to. The next step is to record your performance (preferably video) of each of the songs with a break in between to rest, so they can be fairly evaluated.
After watching and/or listening to the recording by yourself a few times, invite a friend or two in to review it with you. It’s good to get feedback beyond a self-critique. If one of your friends can bring along someone you don’t know, that can help tremendously because they’re less likely to have any bias.
Weed The Garden + Rope The Range
The point of this evaluation process is to eliminate any songs that are not a good fit for auditioning or including in a song set for a live gig.
There are a few questions to ask yourself and others in the evaluation process. Was the song comfortably within your range? If not, will it be manageable soon if you continue to work with it? Otherwise, do not include it in your anchor songs.
What is the story of the song? What is its message? Do you connect? Do you relate to the story of the song? Does the message come through clearly? If not, the song may not be appropriate because of a lack of life experience. Revisit the song so that you can interpret it fully before including it in a song set.
By Leaps + Skips
Are there big adjustments to make in the melody between notes? In other words, are the notes close to each other like stepping up and down one note a time, or do they have bigger jumps of four to five notes and even higher? Listen for how this is handled in the songs you’ve chosen. Eliminate songs with leaps of more than four or five notes until you become more comfortable with it.
Did you manage to naturally pick up and play with the rhythmic measures in the song? Some songs will have a variety of rhythms. It may shift from the verse to chorus. The bridge or a build may have a slight rhythmic shift of some kind.
Complex and varied rhythms can add excitement to a performance and heighten not only the thematic feel but the emotional thrust of a song. But if handled improperly they become a distraction. If there are challenges with rhythm, pull the piece from your anchor songs.
What about the tempo of the song? Is the song too fast or too slow? Do you find yourself speeding up or slowing down when it’s not necessary? What about your articulation? Do you get tend to slur when singing up tempo songs? Articulation can even be a problem with slower pieces due to placement issues or a lack of properly strengthened muscles for articulation.
For the time being, eliminate any songs from your anchor songs that present a problem with articulation, but keep them handy for practice. They can always be added to your song set or anchor songs once the articulation required is mastered!
Songs That Work
So, after working through the evaluation, you now have your list of anchor songs that will be there for warm ups, fun, confidence boosting, auditions, and your singing gigs. You can add similar songs to this group that reflect your strengths so that a variety of material is on hand in several genres that are within your mastered comfort zone.
Songs To Work On
In addition to your anchor songs, you’ll also have a set of practice songs that you enjoy singing. You can use these to work on rhythm, tempo, articulation, range, and interpretation or understanding.
Your anchor songs feature your strengths and your practice songs exercise the skills you need to strengthen. And best of all, these are songs you love to sing! After six weeks, you can revisit your practice songs through a newly recorded performance evaluation.