Advice Blog Repertoire

Practicing & learning repertoire

Last week, I broke down what practicing is and several options of how to go about doing it. The main takeaway was finding time, keeping it consistent, and repetition of skills learned during your lesson.

Today, I’d like to break down how to approach a new song. Grab the sheet music and let’s go!


Go on ‘the internets’ and first listen to many different versions – this will help to give you a sense of what vocal coloring you would like to use on this piece. Do some research on the piece – when is it from? Who made it famous? Is it from a show? Did the composer write other shows? Etc. All of this work will help you set up how to approach the piece – notice how we haven’t even done any singing yet? 


Now we are going to put this piece into your voice. With a piano close by (or piano plunk), sing-through the piece on a lip trill, raspberry, straw – any flow forward tool that you enjoy. This will help you to learn the notes and be able to mark breaths into your music.* Once you feel comfortable and confident with a consistent breath flow through the piece, sing-through with neutral vowels (show, shoe, shaw, etc.) focusing on ease of mouth shape. 

Now let’s add in the words! Feel free to use a flow forward tool as a lead-in to a phrase, or a tool to help keep that consistent pucker. Find an accompaniment track – sing the song in real time and make notes of what feels great and circle what doesn’t. Go back to the trusty piano and plunk out those tricky parts. 

Even more research

Add in a splash of acting. Who are you singing to? What do you want from them, etc? 

*Can’t read sheet music? No problem. You can still use the lyrics of the songs to figure out and mark in breathing. 

How do you learn a song?