Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, & the Fundamentals of Music

All Skill Levels Welcome, Ages 4 -104

Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, & the Fundamentals of Music

All Skill Levels Welcome, Ages 4 -104

Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, & the Fundamentals of Music

Clef Notes

How Using Solfege Can Help You Sing Better

Many musicians use a system called “solfege” to make the task of singing and understanding melodic lines a little bit easier. Solfege is used in conservatories and schools all over the world to teach music students to sing and hear effectively. Solfege, also called “solfeggio” or “solfa,” is a system where every note of a scale is given its own unique syllable, which is used to sing that note every time it appears.

Greg Simon from MusicTheoryTutor.org

The Basic Idea

My favorite part of this quotation is “Solfege is used… to teach music students to sing and hear effectively.” That’s totally what goes on!

My take on the basic principle is this: if your body and your brain are in agreement about what notes you want to sing, then a lot of technical issues will take care of themselves. If there is any disagreement between what your body thinks it should be doing and what your brain wants it to do, then there will be tension, and good intonation (pitch accuracy) will be impossible.

The average person singing along with the radio is relying on their body to mimic the artist. Pitches are flung around wildly while the body tries to match what the brain is hearing. This is fun, mind you, especially at those quintessential moments when the body happens to nail a long high note and sustain it for a few beats.

The Argument Between Body & Brain Begins

The trouble is, take away the radio, and the body is left to itself to come up with those pitches. What about all those notes leading up to that high note? Oh no! “What were those?”

Then, your brain might say to the body “Ok, we’re gonna do this. I’ve got all those lyrics memorized!” But the brain only has an outline of how that thing goes.

And the other problem? The brain is already REALLY BORED with that melody all of a sudden. Then judgment kicks in “I should already know this song. I’ve sung it a million times. In fact, I declare that I already know it.”

A Side Note About Body, Soul, & Spirit

My friend Lauryn Maloney explained to me one time about the relationship of body, soul, and spirit. I mean, I had heard of that a million times, but I never really stopped to think about the implications. What I loved most about her explanation what how she compared it to the relationship of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the same way that Father, Son, and Spirit are three entities in one and have relationships with each other, so is our own being. 

Our body has a relationship with our soul, our soul with our spirit, and our spirit with our body. So we are three in one, and the three parts can help each other.

Maybe that sounds too spiritual, but when you’re trying to get your body to do something it doesn’t know how to do, it can be a helpful model.

All that to say, if your brain (or soul) is bored, it ain’t gonna be teaching no body to do nothing! (Said with a snarky North Georgia accent while crossing her arms.) 

Another trouble is, the brain is convinced that it already knows the melody.

Enter Solfege

First, let me demonstrate a well-known melody:

Most of you probably recognize the melody. And most of you can probably already sing it. But try singing it with the following solfege right now:

Do do so so la la so

Fa fa mi mi re re do

So so fa fa mi mi re

So so fa fa mi mi re

Do do so so la la so

Fa fa mi mi re re do

 

Whoa. Now your brain is getting entertained and finds that it’s more satisfying to slow down and actually get those syllables correct. Meanwhile, your body now has a chance to catch up. Now, your brain, without realizing it, is instructing the body.

The Argument Continues

If it’s an unfamiliar melody, or even one you know a little bit, you might find your brain and body getting in an argument about certain notes. Your body will complain to your brain, “WTF IS that note? What do you want from me?!”

And the brain will go, “Oh yeah! What IS that note?” And then it might have the patience to go listen to it again and figure it out. The brain will be instructing the body.

Upon completion body and brain will be happy and satisfied, and the tone will be true and clean.

How Can You Learn the Solfege for a Melody?

If you aren’t trained in this skill, you could find someone who is and have them record and write out a slow version of the melody for you with the solfege.

If you respond in the comments here or write to me at sandy@crescendomusicloft.com with the name of a song you want to learn how to sing, I’ll send you at least a little snippet example from that song.

Stay tuned for how to get the spirit involved in the conversation!

5 thoughts on “How Using Solfege Can Help You Sing Better”

  1. Poupie! You’re making my day. I LOVE Björk!! And I hadn’t heard this song. Please find solfege written out for the first verse (hysterical!) along with a recording of my demonstration here. (PDF here, mp3 in the next comment.)

    Hyperballad-Solfege

    Reply
  2. Poupie!! This is *awesome*! I love it!! Thank you so much. It makes it so much more manageable to break it down this way, and it’s fascinating to consider the melody this way!

    Reply

Leave a Comment


The maximum upload file size: 32 MB.
You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other.
Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded.