Singing by yourself is one thing, but how good are you at singing with others?
It’s a totally different game!
Growing up singing harmonies with my sisters, we learned how to instinctively come up with harmony parts that fit together effortlessly.
We got so comfortable singing together that we can sing almost any song in three (or more…if our other brothers and sisters join in) part harmony on the spot, making up parts as we go.
Singing with others requires you to blend. To think about the dynamics of the song while you’re singing, to push and pull and ebb and flow together as you sing.
It also requires you to commit to and carry your own part and not get dragged around by what other people are doing.
Being a good listener makes you a better singer.
Learning to sing with others starts with listening to how people sing together. I love this master class by Chris Thile, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan where they really dig into this. While watching them sing at the beginning, try to dissect their individual harmony parts and maybe even record yourself humming each part into a garageband file to recreate the song.
A capella music is especially complex and fun to pick apart and will help train your ear to listen for, arrange, and sing harmonies.
When we started posting covers on YouTube, we broke down N*Sync’s “I Thought She Knew” and Boyz II Men’s “Yesterday” and created our own versions we would sing together a capella (which you can watch here and here for a great little throwback). I think that really helped sharpen our listening ears and helped us compliment each other better.
Practice harmonizing and blending.
As often as you can, lend your voices to songs by other singers. I LOVE singing along with songs that have only two or 3 harmony parts because my ear is trained to hunt for that 3rd or 4th harmony part and add it in. Practice harmonizing with everything you listen to in the car. Imaginary Future and The Civil Wars are really fun to sing along with!
When you do have the chance to perform or sing in a duet or a trio or a group, really pay attention to the dynamics of the song and try to blend your voices together.
This might require some restraint! Even some of the most amazing singers can’t harmonize or sing well with others because they’re too busy stealing the show. Singing with others requires focusing on the greater good, letting the whole song be greater than its individual parts.
Find the chemistry.
When you find someone who you feel you have great chemistry with, sing with them as often as you can! There is magic in voices that have great chemistry. Blending your voice with someone else’s to tell a story might be exactly what a song needs to take it to the next level.