Tips for New Singers

Tips for New Singers

Never been to an All-Day Singing before? Read: Convention and All-Day Singing Etiquette.


It’s important to learn to lead, because it preserves the democratic and participatory nature of the tradition. That said, it can be a little intimidating at first. Here are some tricks to make it easier:
  1. Always beat time at your seat. Then when you come up to lead, it won’t be so unfamiliar. It will also make you a better singer, and help others stay on track, too.
  2. Don’t worry if you don’t know the notes yet. Just do the best you can. No one will call you out for making a mistake.
  3. Pick a song even if you don’t lead it. You can also ask for someone to stand up with you while you practice leading.
  4. Consider choosing a song with lots of half and whole notes- it’s a little easier to get the shapes right when they’re not going by so fast.
  5. Pick a song and memorize at least the words- one less thing to figure out on the fly.
  6. Lean on the front row of the tenor bench. They are supposed to beat time, and support the leader in keeping the class together. Kick us if we let you down.
  7. It’s helpful to have decided which verses of a song and if you want a repeat at the end. Announce your choices clearly, and make sure that the tenors really heard you. While an experienced leader can get away with making these decisions as the song progresses, a mini-train wreck can happen if a newer leader gets confused or gives confusing signals.
  8. Consider the class. On a night with lots of strong singers you can try out a song you are less comfortable with but want to practice. When we have few strong singers it may be better to stick to things we know a bit better.
  9. Even a song you think you know by heart can produce little challenges when leading. Check the song for
    • internal repeats- don’t forget to sing the notes twice
    • songs that start on the upbeat (the downbeat is a rest)
    • time changes
  10. Relax. We know you’re new. The only way to learn to be good at leading is to persevere through being a bit awkward and clueless.

Download the beginners sheet.