VOCAL HELP: The 5 Necessities For Every Songwriter — #4, Singing Scales


Videos by American Songwriter

Necessity #4: SINGING SCALES

If singers never learns to sing within the structure of scales, they never truly discipline their ears to hear the harmonics of the scale. Once you’re able to hear a chord and arpeggiate it (break it up into a scale), you’re able to hear the passing tones from note to note while an instrument is playing. This is basic to the craft of songwriting, but it is also basic to the craft of teaching.


Johan Sebastian Bach wrote most of his fugues as improvisations before walking into church, then later notating them. Isn’t that part of great songwriting – learning how to create on the spot? It’s very hard to write notes you can’t picture singing yourself. Warming up your voice to variations of scales can make you fearless. If your melodies all start to sound the same, perhaps it’s because you’ve gotten into a rut and your ear can only hear inside this box of simple major melodies.

There’s nothing wrong with that – if you only want a limited number of songs.

In my instructional program, Singing Success, I give you the Rossini scale that has different descending notes than ascending notes. This is great because you sing every note in every key as you warm up. Eventually, you’ll begin to sing ‘passing notes’ that aren’t within the chord structure, but are in the scale structure. There are also blues scales, minor scales and a variety of chord progressions to sing along with. The program’s “Style Lessons” coordinate the voice to simply ‘fall into melodies’ without thinking of singing the individual notes.

Once you develop proper technique, you’ll be excited to see how easily you can improvise over chords. This is a significant confidence booster. The better your ear, the greater freedom and diversity you will experience.


Brett Manning is a world-renowned vocal coach in Nashville, TN. He is the author of the best-selling vocal training program, Singing Success.For more information about Brett’s singing programs, before & afters, or to read hundreds of testimonials, visit: www.SingingSuccess.com


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Patty Griffin: American Kid