Years ago I made up this checklist to assist singers with absorbing new songs. I did this as I had some students who had to learn vast amounts of songs for covers gigs etc. I am now sharing it with you in case it helps you with your singing?
How many bars’ introduction?
It is as much for a singer’s confidence, knowing exactly when to come in, as anything else. There is nothing worse than seeing a panic-stricken singer on stage not knowing where they are in the song, or when they should start singing. It makes for a wobbly start!
How many bars is the solo?
Again, your audience need never know that you are counting furiously to keep tabs on where you are. Keep the pads of your fingertips counting so that you know exactly where you are in the solo.
Breathing should also be noted down for practice purposes. It is also a really good shortcut if ever you have to go back to the song in the future for use in your repertoire at future gigs. Clear slashes after the word work as a great memory jog.
Concentrating solely on the vowels.
This is an extremely beneficial exercise for resonance, projection and an all round good sound. Again, for lesson warm up, and general practise purposes (which you can do on your own at home), if you start out by figuring out the placement of the sound by singing through the lyrics sounding only the vowels.
Backing Vocals (or BV’s)
As you know, each and every song that uses harmonies has it’s own individual pattern. Sometimes there are a few selected words that are harmonised, elsewhere you will notice whole chorus sections, verses etc. If you underline exactly which words/ phrases are harmonised, whether the part(s) are above, below, thirds, fifth and so on, you will always have laser like focus when singing harmonies for other singers or laying down harmony tracks in the studio.
The same applies to counter melody ‘Ooh’s & Aah’s’
The general structure of the song & global overview.
This is an accelerated way of retaining the bare bones of the song & could be your quick ‘brush up’ way of reviewing the song at a later date (you never know what you may need at future rehearsals)
The Lead vocal
Make note of any unusual phrasing, or unexpected rhythmic stresses. Some singers will have unusual pronunciation, vary each chorus, or maybe add extra Ad. Libs. as they progress through the song.
By carefully reading the lyrics, this helps you to build up an understanding of sound placement and the meaning of the words.