Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Make Karaoke Fun

You can make karaoke fun, or you can let it be your worst nightmare. A potential karaoke moment could be lurking anywhere -- at a party, a wedding reception, or perhaps at the restaurant you visit after a long day of working with your Asian business partners.

You walk into the room and spot it -- the karaoke machine. Uh-oh. You know what's coming. “Hey, why don’t you get up and sing one next?” someone yells. Gulp! All eyes turn toward you and someone hands you the microphone. Your mind turns to jelly. Your knees go weak. Sure, you sing along with your favorite songs on the radio, but in front of everyone? And why is it that you can’t remember the title of a single song right now?

It’s only natural to have a pang of anxiety whenever we’re in the spotlight. But singing with karaoke isn’t about giving a perfect performance. It’s about having fun with your friends. People want to hear you. If they wanted to hear Lady Gaga or Garth Brooks, they’d buy the CDs. Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen? The worst thing that can happen is that you sit there and don’t even try. So why not do some preparation and be ready to dive in?

Here are a few steps you can take to make karaoke fun instead of fearful next time you’re in the spotlight:

Learn a few of your favorite songs.
Choose well-known songs that are in your range. Make sure the melody is easy to hum and that you can feel the rhythm easily. Can you reach the high notes and be heard on the low notes? In short, simply learn the songs that you would sing along to with the radio.

Some easy popular songs you might want to try:
Like a Virgin 
Friends in Low Places 
These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
I Love Rock and Roll
I Will Survive
My Way
New York, New York!
Bad to the Bone
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Sweet Caroline
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Born to Be Wild
Sweet Home Alabama
Hey, Jude

Practice using a real microphone (not your hairbrush!).
Using a microphone for the first time can be daunting, so you want to get accustomed to hearing your voice amplified.

Fortunately there are inexpensive and easily-obtained microphone devices available. In the toy section of Amazon.com you can find inexpensive battery-operated karaoke microphones that don't require costly amplifiers starting at about $15.

There are microphone apps available for smart phones. As well as karaoke apps. And if you have access to music video games such as "Rock Band" or "Guitar Hero," you can learn a lot by using the game's microphone to make karaoke.

Remember the purpose of the microphone is to amplify your voice, so don't shout at the top of your lungs. That's why we have microphones.

Calm your fears.
There's a trick I teach my students when they are nervous about a performance. I tell them to write down all the things they think could go wrong -- going off pitch, forgetting the words, falling down -- whatever they fear most. Then I tell them to sing and make all those mistakes -- just do a terrible job. This is not as easy as it sounds. You'll find it's almost as hard to be terrible as it is to be perfect, but once you've done it a few times, you'll find this exercise helps put your performance fears to rest.

Ham it up.
Getting up to sing is an opportunity to act out your "star” fantasies. Go all the way. Find the “ham” in you. Wear lots of bling and glam clothing, do some rock and roll moves, sing your heart out. In truth, most people would rather see you succeed than fail, and giving a full-out performance will always go over better than hanging back. Trust me. Things don’t improve when you sound as if you’re apologizing for giving such a rotten, worthless performance. Think "Diva."

Now, I can’t guarantee these tips will get you a recording contract, or a spot on the David Letterman show, but they sure could make karaoke a lot more fun!

Nashville vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams reveals the trade secrets that have already helped hundreds of aspiring singers become celebrities: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus, Huey Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Christina Aguilera...

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