“I'm not saying you have to learn Barbershop to be a great a cappella singer... but I am promising you if you do sing Barbershop, you'll be better than if you don’t.” - Deke Sharon
Music plays an important role in our lives. Adverts, streaming, computer games, etc., music is with us almost every moment of every day. The percentage of people in the UK that plays a musical instrument isn’t increasing.
The percentage has remained steady at between 10 and 12% for over a decade. This has made us think that perhaps they’d be interested in singing. After all, music and singing are linked and one can’t exist without the other.
Be it a concert, a vocal group, rehearsals, etc., a cappella is a great way to improve your singing.
So are you ready to get the party started with your singing voice?
Here are some great songs for getting started with singing without instruments.
Nursery Rhymes for Getting Started with A Cappella
This might seem strange, but you’ll soon learn that you can’t just start singing a cappella, especially as a budding singer.
Firstly, you’ll need to work out what voice type you have. Whether you’re a baritone or a tenor, for example, will dictate which songs you should learn to sing.
You also need to know what your voice is capable of and develop your self-confidence as you won’t have any instruments to back you up. There are a lot of factors that can make this type of singing difficult.
If you want to sing a song without any music, nursery rhymes are a great choice since they can make almost any voice sound good without too much effort. The melodies don’t tend to involve too many vocal gymnastics and don’t require a broad range or a lot of nuances and can be sung without any instrumental accompaniment.
Also, everyone has their favourite nursery rhyme. Some of the most famous classic nursery rhymes and songs for children include:
- The Wheels on the Bus
- Old MacDonald Had a Farm
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Baa Baa Black Sheep
- I’m a Little Tea Pot
- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
- The Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Mother Goose
- Incy Wincy Spider
- Humpty Dumpty
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
- Little Miss Muffet
- Jack and Jill
- The Grand Old Duke of York
- Hickory Dickory Dock
- Old Mother Hubbard
- Three Blind Mice
- Little Bo Peep
- And many others...
When you try to sing a few of them, you might notice that they’re a little more challenging than you first thought. This is normal as we don’t tend to take ourselves too seriously when singing nursery rhymes. They’ll put you through your paces.
Popular nursery rhymes lyrics are also quite simple, easy to remember, and you can find tonnes of examples of them online. You won't need a piano solo or any complicated instrumental accompaniment but if you do want to sing along to something, they're very easy to find as there's plenty of content for toddlers on platforms like YouTube.
Stevie Wonder - Sir Duke
The vocal melody of this song is so enchanting that you can sing it without the amazing music that usually accompanies it. If you need help learning, you should have a look for versions of the song where the vocals have been isolated or, if you have your own audio software, you can do it yourself.
Similarly, the melody of the brass sections works really well for a cappella groups and you can find tonnes of examples of this online.
Frank Sinatra - My Way
While most people will tell you that My Way is a Frank Sinatra song, this was originally a French song Comme d'habitude and is about a breakup. Paul Anka heard the song on French TV while in Paris and bought the rights to the song and wrote the English lyrics specifically for Frank Sinatra.
Lyrically, the two songs have very little in common. The French language version is about a relationship being over while the English language version is about life coming to an end and having no regrets.
Either way, this is a great tune that is mostly carried by the vocal melody so you won't really need any backing music to give it a go.
Find out more about singing in key.
Maroon 5 - She Will Be Loved
This song was the third single from the band's debut album Songs About Jane and charted at No. 4 in the UK, No. 5 in the US, and was a No. 1 hit in Australia, Belgium, Mexico, and Venezuela.
While this song was removed from several radio stations' playlists as it was too light for the usual audiences that listened to Maroon 5's other songs at the time, this is what makes it a great song for singing without any instrumental accompaniment.
Since the band's lead singer Adam Levine is a tenor, this song is better suited for singers with a higher vocal range.
Whether you like folk, rock, blues, or even gospel, you can learn a cappella versions! (Source: NikolayFrolochkin)
Adele - Hello
Adele's 2015 song has become a modern classic. In fact, it was No. 1 in 34 different countries! Adele wrote the song with Greg Kurstin and as a piano ballad, it also works really as a vocal piece without the piano accompaniment.
Even though the song's only been out for a few years, it's already been extensively covered by tonnes of different bands including a version by the Canadian group Walk off the Earth who played it on a surfboard as a primarily vocal arrangement.
Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
Even if you haven’t heard the original, you’ve probably heard one of the over 200 covers of this song. It’s the power of the words rather than the music in the original version. The perfect song for a cappella.
Leonard Cohen took two years to write this song, wrote over 80 verses (though he only kept 5 of them), and regularly questioned his work. The song, despite its name, is about carnal desires.
The poetic nature of the song tends to hide the fact that it’s an ode to eroticism and it was even used in the soundtrack to the family film “Shrek”.
That said, what we’re interested in here is how the song can help you to learn how to sing.
Find out more about the history of a cappella.
John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Roads
John Denver's most famous song was written by John Denver, Bill Danoff, and Taffy Nivert about the American state of West Virginia. It was originally released in 1971 and went to No. 2 in the American charts and No. 3 in the Canadian charts.
The Dutch pop band Hermes House Band released a cover version in 2001 that was titled just "Country Roads" that was a top 10 hit in Ireland, Germany, Austria, Denmark, and the UK.
If you're only familiar with the Eurodance version from 2001, you might want to go have a listen to the original for singing on your own without any background music as the dancier version only really works with thumping bass drums synthesisers.
What are your favourite songs?
On Superprof, there are plenty of talented and experienced singing tutors to help you improve your voice. There are three main types of singing tutorial on offer: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each type of tutorial comes with its pros and cons and some tend to be more expensive than others so you need to carefully think about what's available, how you like to learn, and what your budget it.
Face-to-face tutorials are the most cost-effective type of tutorial available. This is because you're the only student and your lessons will be tailored to you and how you like to learn. Of course, this means that your tutor will be spending time outside of the tutorials planning exercises and activities for you to do during your lessons. All this extra work comes at a cost so these tutorials are also usually the most expensive per hour.
Thanks to the internet, you can also get online singing tutors who'll teach you using video conferencing software. These tutors won't have to travel to you and can also schedule more tutorials each week. With less travelling time and more earning potential, online tutors tend to charge less per hour as they have fewer outgoings per lesson taught.
Group tutorials are useful for students on a budget as you can share the cost of a tutor with the other students in the tutorial. Whether these other students are friends of yours or strangers, you can get an hour of tuition quite cheap if you're happy to be in a group. Of course, this does mean that you won't benefit from as much one-on-one time with your tutor.