Guest article – Have you tried singing along with your keyboard? (Part 1)"I could also see the great joy this brought to people... despite the fact that I still consider my actual keyboard playing to be mediocre!"
I have played various Yamaha keyboards over the years, but have long since recognised that I will never be anywhere near as good as Chris, David and many other professional players and at one time nearly gave up playing. Then I thought about the fact that 95% of the music I played had lyrics and although I was not particularly good at singing I decided to sing along and found that my overall performance improved greatly. I also realised that virtually all professional singers, except opera and choral folk, all used reverb to enhance their performances. Fortunately, all Yamaha keyboards have the ability to easily add reverb to my voice and hence my performance improved further. As a result, I started doing small concerts at the apartment block, where we lived at the time, which were well attended and appeared to give pleasure to my audience, particularly in the section where I invited them to also sing along, and had numerous requests for further such events.
So I then offered to do such concerts at local old folks homes, which were equally successful, as I naturally arranged to play and sing songs from the forties, fifties, sixties etc and was staggered to find that even those who suffered from Dementia still knew all the words of these old favourites, without needing to look at the lyrics, which I had typed up and passed round to my audience. I could also see the great joy this brought to such people, which also gave me great satisfaction, despite the fact that I still consider my actual keyboard playing to be mediocre!
So, if by chance, you also struggle to play anywhere near as well as people such as Chris and David, then perhaps you should have a go at singing along, even if you are too shy to ever play for an actual audience. Ironically virtually all the Yamaha keyboard experts all claim to be no good at singing, so inevitably you will rarely find any advice on how to get the best out of all the many ‘vocal harmony’ features, which are available on every Yamaha keyboard. So if you happen to be good at understanding how to get the best out of all the vocal harmony dials and knobs on all the latest Yamaha keyboards, such as the PSR-SX900 which I have recently purchased from ePianos/Whitley Bay Organs, then perhaps you could kindly contribute such an article in the next newsletter, as I am still struggling to interpret the official instructions!
In the meantime, I will give everyone else one or two basic tips on how to sing reasonably well despite perhaps your possible concerns. First choose one or two tunes where you already know all the words, as this will save the need to read all the notes and lyrics at the same time. Next, find the highest note you will have to sing and see if you can reach this reasonably comfortably. If not press the ‘Transpose’ minus button to lower the key you are playing and hence singing in to make it easier to reach. Then find the lowest note on the sheet music and try to sing this. If it is difficult you will need to press the ‘Transpose’ plus button, but naturally you will be upsetting the high note setting you have just made. So you will inevitably have to choose a compromise setting.
I find however that by practicing both the highest and lowest note, in most cases you will achieve a satisfactory compromise.
There are many other tips I could give you but I must limit the length of this article.
So I will finish by adding just one final thought. Musicals such as Les Miserable, Phantom of the Opera, Don’t cry for me Argentina, Lion King and many others have been seen, heard and greatly enjoyed by millions of people over many years. Despite the lovely music, which is played at these shows, imagine how mediocre they would have all been without all the singers telling you the story and drama of such shows!