As a session singer, I have songwriters approach me every day with questions on how to sing better. They know they need to convey the right melody to get their demos heard. This has happened so often, I thought it would be a good idea to write about it! If you can’t sing, there are still ways to get your point across.
How to “sing” if you can’t sing
First, let’s discuss what a melody is:
The dictionary defines melody as “a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying.” We can all agree that ‘musically satisfying’ is relative to the listener, because I’m sure we’ve all heard some melodies that were anything but satisfying. Essentially, the melody is what turns poetry into music. The words are lyrics, the singing is melody. A guitar solo can also be the melody, or whatever instrument is taking the lead.
I’m often contacted by songwriters who have incredible writing talent but are not singers themselves (hence the need to hire one). These gifted creators feel self-conscious about singing their songs and ask me how they can convey a melody so that I can sing it.
If you happen to fall into this category, I can give you a few tips here to make it easier and stress-free:
1. Play the melody on an instrument
If you’re an instrumentalist, feel free to play a solo track on your guitar/piano/sitar/whatever and label it as “melody.” When I import the tracks, I’ll be able to line them up and figure out the melody from there. As long as you can play along to the lyrics, I can figure it out easily.
2. Write sheet music
If you know how to do this, feel free! I can read music so this isn’t a problem. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you feel more comfortable doing this than singing the melody, be my guest.
3. Hire a demo singer
If you’re hiring me to sing the song, this may seem like an extra step. However, if you really aren’t comfortable singing and need me to hear how you’d like it sung, this may be a good option. Just keep in mind that you may have to pay the other singer as well. If you have a relative or friend who will do it for free, cool. If this is the method you choose, please let me know if you would like me to imitate the style and tone of the demo singer!
Lastly, although you probably won’t like this option:
4. Just go ahead and sing it yourself
Trust me, I’ve heard it all. I won’t judge you or make fun of you. As long as I can sort of determine where the melody is headed and how it lines up with the lyrics, that’s pretty much all I need. This method is probably easiest and fastest, and perhaps least expensive. Generally, the writers who send me these are a little more lenient and open to my interpretation of the melody, so I will say that if you’re completely tone deaf and have a very specific melody you’d like, it may be better to use the other options. I guarantee you aren’t so bad that I can’t at least figure out part of it though, so please be kind to yourself!
Please note: If you are pitching your song to a major artist, only #3 will apply. Publishers and agents will not take the time to read sheet music or figure out the melody using an instrument! They want to hear how the song will sound when it’s finished, so you will need a demo singer to be competitive. The other tips will help your session singer determine the melody you need.Even if a songwriter can't sing, there are ways to get your music out there! Don't give up! Click To Tweet
The creative process should always be rewarding and fulfilling, so please choose the option that is the most fun for you. I’ve used all of these methods with different clients who can’t sing and they’ve all worked out completely fine. If you have a different way you like, that’s cool too! Please feel free to contact me if you’re curious about the process or have an idea, and you can also watch my video about the process if you have any questions!