Season 2 Episode 4: How to Improve Your Singing or Playing

Posted on
22 Jan 2013
by shannon kennedy under Episodes |

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Hey everyone! Welcome to the fourth session of Teen Jazz Radio and our second official podcast of the year. Before we get started, I want to thank you each of you for listening in. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedules to listen to our podcast, discover the talented artists we feature on the show, and learn a little bit about what we do.

So, of course, to make it worth your time, we've got some great material lined up for you today as part of the show. For those of you who are fellow musicians listening to the podcast, I'm going to share some great information for you to take away from this show. And for those of you who are interested in listening to our artists, I have three performers that I hope you will enjoy.

For those of you who are just joining us, Teen Jazz and Teen Jazz Radio are websites (and now a podcast) dedicated to emerging young performers. We have a ton of articles on the music industry, album and concert reviews, and we feature the profiles and music of many talented musicians. If you're interested in finding out more about Teen Jazz, please visit

My name is Shannon Kennedy. I am the host of Teen Jazz and a performer. I play saxophone and I sing. If you want to find out more about me, my website is

Since Teen Jazz is a music advice website and a resource for up and coming young musicians, I get a lot of questions emailed to me through the site and so I thought I would dedicate part of this podcast to answering questions that I've received.

But because I don't want to push the music too far back into the podcast, I'll try to answer one question between each artist, or if the answer is particularly long, I'll split the answer into two or three parts around each of our artists.

I should also mention that I will try to keep the answers as short as possible as part of this podcast to keep these episodes within a certain timeframe. If you find you have additional questions, or would like me to expand on part of my answer in particular, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via the comments section for this podcast on or through our Facebook page and

The first question I was asked this week is "how can I improve my singing?"

I think this is a really great question, but I'd like to make it a bit more universal, so I'm going to modify it to be "how can I improve my singing or playing?" And because I've opened up the question, I'm going to split my answer up around the music that I feature as part of this podcast.

There are quite a few things that you can do to help you improve where you're at with your singing or playing. I've come up with a list of six general tips that can be used across the board.

#1 Listen to a lot of music. And I mean a lot in more than one way - you should listen to music as often as you can (a lot as far as time spent actually listening to music) and you should listen to a lot of diverse styles of music and performers. This not only helps with ear training, but it also allows you to refine your musical tastes (which will also eventually be expressed in your performance).

Sing or play along with the music that you listen to. Emulate the performance style of the musicians - it's a great way to build up your musical vocabulary. However, an important part of emulating other performers is to eventually take what you've learned and make it your own. Be careful not to develop a style or sound too similar to another performer. You want to create your own unique sound, something that differentiates you from the thousands of other musicians who play the same instrument you do.

#2 Not only do you need to listen to a lot of music that features the instrument that you play, but you also need to listen to music performed by other musicians who play different instruments. For example, if you're a saxophone player (like me), you should also listen to singers and guitarists. Emulate some of what they do into your performance as well. In general vocalists should listen to instrumentalists as well as other vocalists and vice versa. Instrumentalists should also to listen to vocalists.

The first artist I'd like to feature on this episode of Teen Jazz Radio is saxophonist Jason Weber. We recently interviewed Jason on our partner site,, and we're excited to share his music with you on our podcast too. Jason Weber is a talented saxophone player currently located in Southern California. He has several albums out as a solo performer, and he has performed with a number of notable artists including Gerald Albright, Brandon Fields and Robert & Dean Deleo from The Stone Temple Pilots.

This is "Five" by Jason Weber.

- Get Five by Jason Weber -

Once again, that was "Five" by saxophonist Jason Weber. If you enjoyed the track, please visit Jason's website at And of course, we'll have all of the links available for you at Teen Jazz Radio - that's

Continuing with the question "how do I improve my singing or playing?"

Tip #3 If you can, take lessons with an experienced instructor who plays your instrument. It's usually best if you can find an instructor in your area, but if you can't, there are a number of people who teach music lessons via Skype (or other online methods).

#4 Practice with backing tracks or with Aebersolds. They help you develop your own style and interpretation of the music you're learning. It also allows you to grow confident with your performance of the material. It's one thing to play along to a record with another performer playing, and it's another thing entirely to be able to carry the melody of a tune and even perform a solo on your own. If you've learned the solos performed by another artist, try to use that material to eventually create your own solos rather than playing theirs note for note.

So before we get to the last two tips for improving your singing or playing, I'd like to introduce another fantastic performer. This next song we're going to feature is by bassist Darryl Williams. Darryl Williams has performed with Chaka Khan, Ronnie Foster, Euge Groove, Mindi Abair and Peter White (to name a few).

The track we're going to feature is from his debut album, That Was Then, released in 2008. This is "Time" by Darryl Williams.

- Get That Was Then by Darryl Williams -

Once again that was bass player Darryl Williams with "Time" from his album That Was Then. You can find out more about Darryl at And once again, we'll have links to everything at

Our last two tips for improving singing or playing are the following:

#5 Perform every chance you get. Performing in front of people will not only help you build your confidence on stage, but it will also get you feedback on where you're at with your playing. Really make sure you really know the material you plan on performing.

If you're not sure where to start, search for local jam sessions in your area or start your own. We have an article on Teen Jazz about performing at jam sessions and why we think it's an important part of your playing. The link will be available at

Last but not least is Tip #6. Record yourself. Whether you're practicing or performing, record what you're doing and listen back to the tapes. Take note of what you're doing well and what you need to improve upon. Then work on the parts of your playing that have room for improvement.

So there you have it, six tips for improving your playing or singing. And once again, don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any more questions. You can find me at or at

Our last feature for this session is the duo Sudbury and Ramos. This is Serenata del Pistolero from their album Connexion Eclectique.

- Get Connexion Eclectique by Sudbury and Ramos -

That was Serenata del Pistolero by Sudbury and Ramos.

Before I close out the show, I want to thank you again for tuning in to the second Teen Jazz Radio podcast.

You can find more information and all the links I mentioned during the show at

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