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How To Sing With Emotion (And Resonate With Your Audience…)

how to sing with emotion

This is a comprehensive guide to help you learn how to sing with emotion for your performances.

The purpose of singing a song with feelings behind it is to create an emotional connection with the audience.

There’s not just sad songs, but a whole range of emotions you can portray with just your voice.

There’s two things we need to focus on when we sing with emotion and that is:

  1. The vocal techniques to portray that feeling…
  2. And having genuine emotions behind those words…

This is because feeling an emotion and sounding out an emotion are two distinct things.

And it’s through the combination of both where you can create an unforgettable performance.

So let’s get started.

1. Analyze Your Favorite Singers In-Depth

The best way to learn how to sing with emotion is to learn from the greats in your fields…

Which means listening to your favorite singers very carefully.

What you want to do is pick your favorite 3 singers that you enjoy listening to and then pick a song that you felt an extremely strong connection to.

Here are some things to consider when you are listening to that song again:

  • Which line or verse made you feel that connection? (Whether it was being sad, happy, hopeful, etc.)
  • What vocal techniques did they use in that line to amplify that emotion? (Vibrato, runs, volume, etc.)
  • What do you think the message of the song was? (You can Google the history as well…)

The reason this is such a powerful exercise is you are going deep to figuring out why that emotion came about from you.

Let me give you an example on how to do this with a song I like with “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran below…

And we are going to analyze the chorus together since it brought up memories I can relate to (It was during college, okay…)

  • At 1:22 I notice he switches from falsetto to his chest voice while doing a vocal run with the word “Baby…”
  • I notice he uses vibrato and that his voice becomes breathier and lighter with the words “perfect tonight” at 1:55
  • This chorus created a connection with me as I can relate to some of these experiences during my college years…

And yes, I felt a connection because it made me remember the good ‘ol college days…

Now, after you analyzed it, the next step is to replicate it and sound exactly like him, which we will go over in the next section.

2. Develop The Vocal Techniques To Add Emotion To Your Voice

learning to sing with expression

If you want to learn how to sing well with emotion, then you are going to need to develop the vocal techniques to back up your singing.

This is because vocal techniques can’t replace authentic emotions.

Here’s why:

  • If you have the vocal technique but don’t have the emotion, the audience is going to notice that it’s fake (which they don’t like…)
  • If you have the emotion but no vocal technique nor pitch, it’s going to sound like you’re having a good time being drunk while singing karaoke (Extremely fun, but not suitable for a live performance…)

Now there are a ton of vocal techniques which you can add to your performance like:

  • Vibrato
  • Runs
  • Volume
  • Vocal fry
  • Vocal cry
  • Falsetto
  • Growling
  • Distortion
  • And so on…

But we are going to go over the most important ones that you can implement instantly and be aware of when you are doing a performance.

Learn To Control Your Vocal Dynamics

Vocal dynamics is something that you can learn to add depth to your performance.

There’s two things that we need to focus on highlighting the emotions within your song:

  1. The intensity and volume of certain words…
  2. And the type of tone that comes out…

Vocal dynamics is important if you want to learn how to sing with emotion.

One thing that you need to learn is how to sing the same notes on pitch with a lower intensity.

This is going to feel very different from your chest voice since many singers focus on increasing their range and volume in their upper range, but never their lower volume since it’s not “eye-catching.”

Yet, it can create a “moment” with the audience if done correctly.

Here’s a vocal exercise you can do to develop this voice: Find a song you can sing comfortably in your chest voice and lower the volume drastically.

Now try to sing that same song at 0.75 speed at that lower volume while staying on pitch with proper breath support.

This helps you develop your pitch and control of your voice so that it becomes second-nature to you before you add your “feelings” to it.

Now, once you feel comfortable with that, what you want to do is to replicate the emotions the singer is using but in your lower voice.

And do the same thing at a higher volume but instead of the complete song, just sing a verse (since your voice is going to get tired easily.)

Learning how to change the volume and intensity is vital for creating an emotional performance, since it’s the contrast between low and high that captures their attention.

Enunciate Correctly And Emphasize Certain Phrases

vocal enunciation

Now just like the song I analyzed, you can notice that Ed Sheeran used vocal techniques to enhance the emotions behind that song.

For example:

  • He used vibrato on certain words to prolong that word to emphasize it…
  • Ed also used runs to lengthen words and emphasized them…
  • He also increased the intensity during the chorus on certain words to highlight its importance…

It’s truly the little things that make the difference to a song.

Emphasizing on certain words can bring out different feelings. 

For example:

  • I am happy (emphasis on you…)
  • I AM happy (It emphasizes that you are currently happy…)
  • I am HAPPY (It emphasizes the emotion of being happy…)

So if you’re trying to convey a certain feeling, it’s important to realize when to emphasize on certain words.

For example, if you’re trying to portray being happy you can also increase the intensity and sound more upbeat.

Whereas if you’re trying to portray being sad, add some silence or lower your voice to match that emotion.

And you want to do all of this while staying on pitch the entire time.

Singing with emotion is tough, but it’s the minor effects that can make your performance an unforgettable one.

3. Learn To Tell Your Own Story During Your Performance

storytelling with a song

Now that you have analyzed your favorite singer and tried to replicate his emotion and vocal techniques behind that song…

The next step in learning how to sing with emotion is to find your own voice.

It’s easier to sound and replicate your favorite singer since you can just study and copy what he does…

But it’s a lot harder creating your own original version.

The reason is that now you are back at square one trying to find an emotional connection and story within yourself that you can sing about…

This means that you will most likely need to share a moment of vulnerability to your audience.

But it’s your own story that has the most potential to share your emotions since you know firsthand how it feels like.

Singing with your own interpretation is so powerful because storytelling has been a part of human civilization since the beginning.

It’s how we passed down stories during ancient times and we continue to tell stories today, like through Television, movies, and of course songs.

Learning how to sing with storytelling can make it 22x more memorable to your audience compared to without a story.

People don’t come to concerts just to listen to their favorite artists and songs, but to create an emotional connection with them.

It’s through listening to your lyrics with the emotion where the audience can bring up memories that are related to that and influence them…

And that’s where singing can become powerful.

And we still love stories in our modern forms like TV, social media, and video games.

Anyway…

Here’s an effective exercise to add storytelling to your singing: Read the lyrics like your talking.

See what it sounds like and the different emotions that arise within you.

Really dig deep and analyze which words make you feel how you felt…

And then emphasize those words whether you want to change the volume, add vibrato and runs, or even change your tone.

Record yourself and notice how it sounds and if you can replicate that emotion or not.

And the important thing is: You want to do this for every single line where you felt some sort of feeling come up.

What you are doing is building story blocks of emotional roller coasters to tell your audience when you actually perform on stage.

Alternative Method: Create Your Own Song

When you create your own song, you already have some sort of experience that you want to share to your audience.

Now, what you can do is you can emphasize the words that bring the most emotion out of your song…

Or change the words so that you are putting emphasis somewhere else.

Either way, you already have the emotion behind it and all you need to do is just convey it properly to your audience.

Your audience won’t be able to notice these tiny details, but they will feel it in your performance.

This is how you learn how to sing with soul and purpose with each phrase.

4. Focus On Your Body Language And Stage Presence

stage presence

Learning how to sing with emotion for live performances means that you also need to pay attention to your body language.

Although you can provide a stellar performance with just your voice alone, learning how to also increase your stage presence can help you create a stronger emotional connection to your audience.

This is because 93% of what you communicate is done non-verbally (which highlights how important your body language is…)

When you are performing a song for an audience, one of the best ways to amplify the emotions you are singing is to make eye contact with the audience.

You want to be mainly looking at your audience when you are performing so that they will feel a connection to you as you sing.

You don’t want to be looking away for a long time, otherwise, it feels like you aren’t performing for them.

Some other body language tips to keep in consideration is:

  • Exaggerate your movements as it makes it harder for people to see when they are standing far away…
  • Smile more and show that you are having a great time…
  • Exaggerate your facial movements as well to amplify the feelings you are trying to sing (so the audience can see from far away again…)

Another thing you want to do as a stage musician is to take up space across the stage.

Of course, when you are singing a sad or slow song it makes sense to stay in one spot to focus on your voice.

But when it’s an upbeat song, you want to act the part while being upbeat and moving across the stage.

Start interacting with the audience as well as:

  • Giving high-fives during your performance…
  • Letting them sing with you…
  • Just having fun on stage…

And the reason this is so important is that when the audience is enjoying themselves and building a connection with you, the emotions you are bringing out with your voice will become much more powerful.

And the point of our performance is to create that connection and make the audience enjoy themselves.

5. Choose The Right Song And Sing In The Right Key

Singing in the right key

Learning how to choose the right key for your voice is essential if you want to create emotions with your voice.

Even a half-note down can make a world of difference in expressing yourself.

It’s important to understand your vocal range and learn where your voice shines the most if you are performing on stage.

This is because everyone is born with different vocal ranges and it’s up to you to figure out the range where you shine the most.

Here are some ways to know that you found the right key:

  • The notes aren’t too high and difficult (It’s better to go down when performing especially when singing for a long period…)
  • You can sing the entire song on pitch without straining…
  • Your voice sounds natural and free…

You want to make sure that when you sing with emotion and feeling that you want to make sure that the right key can amplify those effects.

Here Are Singers Who Sing With Emotion:

  • Sam Smith
  • Lewis Capaldi
  • Michael Buble
  • Celine Dion
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Ed Sheeran
  • John Legend
  • Ariana Grande
  • Freddie Mercury
  • And the list will keep going on…

I tried to add a variety of singers that you can look up to see how to sing expressively like these famous singers.

  • Add silence

Frequently Asked Questions

How to get the choir to sing with emotion?

Persuading others to sing with emotion can be a hard task depending on where everyone is standing.

But what you want to do is to define the “why” clearly.

Tell them why you want to have an amazing performance and the benefits for them.

Whether it’s to:

  • Create some amazing memories
  • Gain some exposure…
  • Or just to have fun…

It’s important to highlight why they should consider singing with emotion.

After they have shown interest and wanting to improve their voice, then you can share the vocal techniques and which words to emphasize to show emotions in your performance.

How can I sing an emotional song without crying

The best way to sing an emotional song without crying is through repetition by yourself.

It’s great that you can feel the emotion behind the song, but it shouldn’t disrupt your vocal performance as a singer.

The idea is to get so used to a song that you can sing it comfortably and that you don’t cry anymore.

How do you sing with emotion and stay on pitch?

The first thing that you want to focus on is staying on pitch.

If you can’t stay on pitch, then even if you sing with emotion it will not sound great.

Once you can get your pitch down, then you can slowly start adding vocal techniques to create those emotional effects.

Conclusion

It’s the little details in your voice that can turn your decent performance into an “unforgettable night.” I went over some advanced techniques on how to bring out the emotion through the control of intensity and emphasizing on certain words. I also explained the importance of interpreting it your way and the way to gain stage presence through your body language. Which tip did you find most helpful below and let me know if you could now sing with more emotion in your songs now.

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As a seasoned musician with multiple years of experience, Anthony writes about tips and tricks to improve your craft whether you are a singer, pianist, or guitarist here at Melody Beats.

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