It’s Friday night and you’ve hit the bar with your friends. Suddenly, they head towards the karaoke section and the one person you actually want to impress invites you to sing. Your palms are sweaty and a feeling of dread starts creeping in. The mere thought of singing in public rather than your shower sends your stomach down to your feet. How can you perform karaoke if you can’t even sing?
By reading this article before going, that’s how.
Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to be a great singer to rock a karaoke bar. With a little know-how, a good sense of humour and just enough swagger, you’ll go from a quivering jelly to a confident Jagger.
Here are some tips:
1. Learn to breathe like a singer
Karaoke can be daunting. When we get stressed, we tense up. When we’re tense, our vocals chords tense up too and the sound we produce is not as good as it can be. Breathing like a singer can help to loosen that tension.
The correct way to breathe is to relax, take in the air deeply, almost like filling up your stomach and then use this air as a support for your voice while singing. A couple of hours of practice of this process of filling up your lower lungs while breathing will make it easy and intuitive.
2. Practice karaoke at home
If you have a karaoke machine, great. Use it! Otherwise, you can usually find your karaoke track and lyrics online. Sing while having bath, cleaning and driving, it will benefit you more than you realise, and make sure you not only understand the lyrics of the song, but have memorised them.
Record yourself singing and listen back but don’t freak out the first time; it’s always weird to hear yourself singing when you first start. Use a full-length mirror or a smartphone to video, then watch yourself. Practice and improve your style; get comfortable with performing.
3. Choose a winning song
When you’re starting out, try picking a song that many people are familiar with and enjoy. Upbeat numbers tend to be better crowd pleasers compared to slow numbers. Songs with long instrumental breaks or overly long songs can be awkward for a karaoke session. It should be a song that you enjoy singing and is well within your vocal range.
By picking an upbeat crowd favourite, the audience will have more fun and that will definitely make it easier for you as a performer.
4. Warm up your voice before you get up to sing
While others are singing, hum quietly along with the songs. Humming is a great vocal warm up and you’ll be surprised at the difference singing on warmed up vocal chords. There are lots of other vocal warm ups you could do but, let’s face it, you don’t want to be caught singing ‘do-re-me’ in a cubicle… not a good look.
5. Fight fear with humour
Remember, everyone’s there to have fun so you don’t need to take yourself too seriously. The best way to fight fear is with humour and, if all else fails, remember that a person who’s able to laugh at themselves is just as cool as a serious karaoke star… perhaps more so.
6. Use a little mic technique
A beginner is usually scared and he/she unconsciously keeps the microphone a foot or two away from the mouth which makes the voice sound bleak. A more experienced singer keeps the mic close to their mouth, in order to get a nice tone. A pro who has mastered mic technique, however, keeps the mic close to their mouth until they sing louder (often higher) notes. At that point they pull the mic away by a few inches, to compensate for the sudden increase in volume, then bring it back to their mouth when the louder singing is over. This can be perfected at home with a hairbrush.
7. Give an all-out performance
Wear some glamour clothes and enact your ‘star’ fantasies. Go all the way. Giving an all-out performance is always better than hanging back. Be confident. Don’t sound apologetic for your performance. There are many professional singers who hit off notes with startling regularity but no-one cares because their stage presence is so strong (yes Mick, I’m looking at you).
8. Be a good audience
Be a good sport and cheer for other performers. Clap after every song. A nice encouraging word can lift anyone’s spirit. Don’t wince if someone’s voice cracks up. Eventually, when you get up to perform, they’ll return the favour and cheer you on. As John Lennon said: “Instant karma’s gonna get you”.
9. Have fun
This is the most important part of any performance. Smile, groove to the music and enjoy your time. The movement will free your voice and help in having a better connection with the audience. The truth is that you’re not there to impress people—you’re there to have a great time. Let loose and share yourself with your friends and audience. Sing your heart out.
The main thing to remember with karaoke is that a great performance doesn’t have to involve a professional singing voice. It’s not a contest and nobody expects you to be perfect. It’s for amateurs who want to have a good time and sing the songs that they love.
Featured photo credit: Stock Unlimited via stockunlimited.com