Set The Tone For Success With The Songs You Sing

As you start out to find material or make some changes in your song set there are a number of things you should always take into consideration. But, first and foremost you want to keep alive a sense of adventure, excitement and spontaneity. It needs to be fun and not a chore.

You want to sing songs that excite you, move you, and challenge you. You also want songs that you feel compelled to share because of its story and the emotions and imagery it triggers.

But you also need to take into consideration your strengths, weaknesses, technical ability, and interpretive skills. You want songs that challenge and stretch you as part of your practice. But when it comes to a public performance, you want songs that you can sing with complete comfort and full confidence.

Tempo To Range + Rhythm

So, when looking into material, you need to consider your range. Know the comfort level for sustaining your highest and lowest notes. You also need to look at things such as tempo and rhythm. Some singers struggle with picking up on rhythm while it may be second nature for others. Some faster songs may present a challenge for singers that tend to struggle with articulation.

Factor In Time For Stretching

This doesn’t mean you should steer away from up tempo tunes altogether. It just means they will require more intense rehearsal time in perfecting them. Also, look at the transitions in a song between notes. Those with bigger jumps from note to note will require extra practice and conditioning to be pulled off more readily with confidence.

Mix It Up

If you want to add depth or a richer texture to your song set, one of the most obvious solutions is to mix up the songs in terms of tempos, styles, and genres. But you can also mix things up with variations on a simple theme such as falling in and out of love. Then you can tell relationship stories with each song you select. You can even spice things up with your chatter in between songs, sharing your personal experiences as you are comfortable.


Maybe your theme might be personal heroes. You can sing a piece about someone saving a life or somebody making a sacrifice for someone else. Maybe your song set could explore the connection between mind, body, heart, and soul. So you could do numbers that engage getting physical at one point and then shift into a heart song about being romantic. You might then do an uplifting gospel piece for the spirit and then switch into something with dense wordplay that provokes deep thought.

Wish List – Bigger Picture

To create a standard set of guidelines for your song set, you can start off by making a “perfect performance” wish list of what you want your audience to feel. Pretend you are outside of the venue and these are the thoughts and feelings expressed after your show. What ideally do you hope someone who hears you sing will say about you? What do you want them to say about your voice? In what ways do you want them to be moved? What are some things you hope they’ll enjoy the most? How do you hope they are inspired?

Factor In Familiar Feedback

Think of the positive feedback you get from coaches, your audience, your friends, your critics – and factor in what you enjoy most about singing and about your vocal quality, technical skills, and interpretive expertise. Ask yourself what sort of mission or objectives are important to you as a singer. In other words, why do you sing? Factor all of these elements into your “perfect performance” wish list for audience response.

Also consider at least three signature songs or anchor songs that always move you, are fun to sing, and give you a sense of personal power and confidence.

Be Tough + Transparent

What can make you more dynamic, appealing, human, and mesmerizing as a performer, singer, or songwriter is the tension created by opposite emotions. Think of coming off as totally transparent and vulnerable; yet tough enough to be able to take care of yourself. A good song that exercises this dynamic of polarity is the Cyndi Lauper classic, True Colors. It has a gentle, fragile sensitive feel like nerves being exposed; yet it celebrates the power that comes with daring to be who you are.

Vulnerability and transparency are great tools for drawing the audience in, for getting them to feel for you. When toughness, edginess, and boldness are used in tandem with being vulnerable, it becomes all the more enriching and satisfying for the audience and even for you as a performer. That boldness lets the audience know you will not only survive, you’re likely to thrive as you arrive.

Unity of Opposites Attract

When it comes to the emotional chords you want to strike with your song set, think in terms of opposites such as joy and sorrow, pain and healing, dark and light. Create a song set that mixes these qualities by contrast song to song. These emotional shifts enhance the overall experience of your performance in terms of story and the journey for the heart. The trick is to blend these opposites subtly, simply, and to juxtapose them as necessary. You want to finish your performance with the audience loving your voice for its strength, vulnerability, stories shares, feelings evoked, and dreams and desires triggered.

Share your “perfect performance” wish list with others at in the forum threads. Use the connections you make to help trigger ideas for new material and for freshening your focus and perspective on your reasons for singing. Share how the progress your making with programs like Mastering Mix and Singing Success are impacting the choices you make in terms of the songs you want to sing. Also check out the performance clips for tips on style choices that may influence your song selection.

The more you share, the more you learn, and the more you invest in exploring the full potential of your unique voice by booking sessions with Brett Manning certified associates and by using the products Brett has created, the better equipped you will be to embrace and engage your true singing success.