Expand your song repertoire – 10 Tips for Singers

Young woman browses her song repertoire and CD collection

Is your current music collection limited? Do you find yourself returning to the same recordings and artists? Are you unsure where to look to broaden your musical tastes? Do you want to discover some great new singers?  In this blog post, I share ten tips for expanding your song repertoire and musical tastes.

Why build your Song Repertoire

Chef’s don’t only eat food because they’re hungry. They also eat to train their palate, to discover new flavours and learn other cooking techniques. In the same way, serious sports players regularly watch recordings of games to study gameplay and learn what the great players do. Artists also study paintings by the great masters to understand their techniques and their contribution to the field. So it is with singing. To succeed at singing you need to refine your appreciation for music, broaden your existing music tastes,  study what great singers of the past and present do and to apply your discoveries to improve your performance. All of this starts with building your song repertoire – your knowledge of great singers and your song library.

Ten Tips for Building Song Repertoire

1. Live Concerts

Nothing is more motivating that attending a live concert. A concert will expose you to new repertoire, performance techniques, performing spaces and keep you excited about practicing your singing. When you attend a concert, try not to skip the supporting act! Also, remember to take note on your phone of any songs and artists that interest you for further investigation. Not all your concerts need to be expensive and big name artists. Sometimes, the smaller more intimate concerts can be more rewarding.

2. Music Festivals

Music festivals are a special kind of live music event where you can be exposed to many artists, both established and upcoming in the same venue. It’s also a great way to meet other music enthusiasts who might also have suggestions for expanding your music library.  Australia has a booming culture of music festivals for singers. Here are just a few suggestions:

3. Award Winners

A great way to find artists who are leaders in their field and new songs is to search the internet for lists of award winners. There are many famous music industry awards, including the Grammy, Tony, Aria, MTV Video and World Music Awards. Additionally, many of the famous music magazines or music websites compile lists of all-time greatest singers. Their hits are great places to start for building your song repertoire. Some examples of great for singers are:

4. Digital Radio

Don’t limit yourself to conventional radio. Through the power of the internet you can browse hundreds of stations specialising in many genres of music. There’s really something for every taste! Let them play in the background while you browse the Web, answer e-mails, etc. If you hear a song you like, take note of the title, album, and artist for further listening. Some good internet radio providers include: pandora, tunein, soma.fm, spotify, and Apple Music.

5. Podcasts

Podcasts continue to gain popularity as a method to share news, reviews, opinions, interviews and music for download over the internet. An advantage is that you are not restricted to particular broadcast schedules and can listen to a podcast on the go or at any time that suits. Increasingly, radio stations that have specialty programs are making these available for listen at a later date via podcast. My personal favourite is PBS FM. There are also literally hundreds of podcasts dedicated to music and singing. Some suggested starting places:

6. Talk to people

Music can make for a great conversation topic! So don’t be afraid to ask people what sort of music they like. Identify someone in your life who has similar music tastes to you. Ask them for some recommendations. Consider trading playlists and top 10s with your friends. Also, talk to musicians and local artists about the music that influences them. Many musicians are happy to answer your questions on social media and discussion forums.

7. Listen to albums

In an increasingly digital age where people create their own playlists and pick and choose their own orders of songs, it is easy to lose sight of the art of constructing a music album. Often, an artist releases one or two singles that attract popular appeal, but might not represent all their work and style. You might find some jewels of music buried in albums among the tracks that don’t get lots of radio play.

8. Don’t make snap judgments

Have you ever had a song that just grows on you? Sometimes we can make instant judgments on a song before we have given it a chance. For this reason, it’s a good idea to listen to a new song or album at least 3 times (and on different days and times) before you decide it’s not for you. This applies especially if you’re listening to a new musical genre or artist.

9. Online music stores

Online stores like Amazon, CD Baby, and Spotify are great resources for expanding your song repertoire and your musical tastes. On these sites, you can hear sound bytes and samples. You can read editorial and user reviews, ratings, lists of other bands liked by users. You can research other recordings by artists you like. They also have very comprehensive databases with literally millions of music recordings available.

10. Take singing lessons

Singing lessons are a great way to expand your song repertoire.  A well-experienced teacher is a tremendous resource for songs/artists that might interest you and also can introduce you to other artists that are similar to those you like. If your lessons include music theory and ear training, you will better appreciate music by understanding how it works. Additionally, if you study voice technique, you will find a new appreciation for music by understanding the techniques needed to perform it well.

Wrapping it up

To be viable as a contemporary performer you need to develop your own style and individuality. However, you can’t achieve that by closing yourself from the music around you. Good artists in every field study the work of the masters and incorporate the wisdom and experience of others into their own style. Good singers need to feed themselves a diet that is rich in vocal music performed by artists who are leaders in their field. A lifetime is not long enough to discover all the great vocal music that is out there. This email shared my top 10 tips for expanding your song repertoire. There are so many suggestions and links in this email, it’s literally overwhelming if you try to do it all at once. Instead of trying to do everything, aim to try just one thing that’s new. You can keep returning to these suggestions and use them to build a routine that includes listening and discovering new music.

This email shared my top 10 tips for expanding your song repertoire. There are so many suggestions and links in this email, it’s literally overwhelming if you try to do it all at once. Instead of trying to do everything, aim to try just one thing that’s new. You can keep returning to these suggestions and use them to build a routine that includes listening and discovering new music.


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