Whether you are a singer, pianist or guitarist, producing the right note and being able to hear it is essential. Practising solfege or solfeggio is important for any musician to train their ears. Yet it can sometimes be intimidating as it requires the use of the voice — easy for a singer but not necessarily simple for a bassist or trumpet player, especially when they are just starting out. Here, we offer five tips to help you progress more rapidly.
- Exercise and Relax Your Breathing
Solfege requires the use of the body because you’re using your voice. Therefore, it’s important for you to be relaxed so your voice can resonate properly. Each practice session should start with 10 minutes of relaxation exercises. We recommend that you lie on your back or sit in a chair. During those 10 minutes, breathe in slow and deep while focusing on tense areas of your body. The purpose is to relax your body so your breathing is relaxed as well.
- Record Your Solfege Practice Sessions
You can use a digital recording device like one from Zoom or Tascam. These devices have advanced features that let you modulate the sound. Another option that’s a little less advanced (and less expensive) would be to use a simple voice recorder (Sony and Olympus are among the most popular brands), or simply a computer or even a phone. While listening back to recordings of your solfege practise, you’ll be able to pinpoint where you make mistakes.
- Say the Notes
Say the notes of the scale going up and down. This exercise will help you build confidence and eliminate any hesitation you likely feel. Start with a slow tempo so you can be very precise. Go through a few sequences at the same tempo, and once you feel like you’ve mastered the notes, slowly increase the tempo. Now, do the same at a faster tempo and so on.
- Use a Piano
Using a musical instrument is a great way to check the accuracy of your notes. For this exercise, we highly recommend using a piano. You could use a different instrument, but notes played on a piano are easier to “hear.”
Sing a note, then play it on a piano and try to hear if you’re on pitch. For instance, sing “re” of the C major scale, then see if you match the corresponding “D” on the piano. You can do the opposite if you find this too difficult. In other words, play the note first, then sing it and finally play it again to check whether you’re on pitch.
- Be Confident and Energetic
Sing the notes with confidence and energy. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes; what’s important is infusing power and dynamism into your voice. This enthusiasm and energy will work in your favour and help you progress faster. Keep in mind that not producing enough lung pressure when you start a note (and while you’re holding it) will cause a change in pitch.
In conclusion, bear in mind that these tips will help you progress faster only if you regularly and frequently practice solfege. As in all things and disciplines, the rule of thumb is always “practice, practice, practice.”