OK, maybe I shouldn't have said "sharpen", lol! But we all need to hone our craft. Here are some fun things you can do to challenge the professional voice.
- Sing the melody to a familiar song in a different mode... if it's normally sung in a major key, flatten every third and fifth of the chord and sing the whole thing in a minor key. Or if it's normally sung in a minor mode, sing it in a major one!
- Sing 7 consecutive notes in whole steps (so starting at C it would be C,D,E,F#,G#,A#,C)
- Sing some melody with music, but sing it exactly 1/2 step off (sharp or flat.). I've driven people crazy with this one:)
- Write down a random series of numbers or letters. Then try to sing them. My vocal coach Gerald Arthur used to try and stump me calling out patterns like 1-3-7-13-2-4-8-5-1.
- Using a simple melody, create and sing at least 3 different harmony patterns that would work, then name the genres they would probably fit. (Example, for "three blind mice" in the key of C (which would be 3-2-1 or EDC) you could sing 5-4-3 (GFE), 5-5-3 (GGE), 6-5-3 (AGE) or a counter-melody like 1-6-5 (CAG)
- Create staccato scales (such as 1-3-5-8-10-8-5-3-1) and try to hit the pitch of the short stabs with dead center accuracy.
- If you're fluent with manuscript, try turning some letters into numbers, ala the Nashville number system. Tonic is 1, subdominant is 4, dominant is 5, octave is 8, figure it out from there. If you're fluent with reading numbers, try translating them into letters!
- Try matching a difficult "scat", or try matching pitch, rhythm, tone and articulation of a singer who sings in the cracks of all those attributes. Hey, some of those singers are major artists!
- Sing a part you're not usually given. If you're usually singing low, sing high and vice versa. Definitely practice singing harder-to-hear middle harmonies.