How to Sing to Jazz Music

It's hard to move from the ordinary 21st century pop music to jazz. Fortunately, there are certain tonal qualities and techniques you can apply to sound more 'jazzy'. Start with step 1 for some techniques and some insight into how to sing jazz.


  1. 1
    Train your ears. As with any type of singing, ear training is important. To understand the techniques of jazz, it is important to listen to jazz and genres like it and understand why singers from that era sang that way. Jazz is often described as a more complicated version of the blues. Therefore it would be beneficial to listen to blues too.
    • During the 1930's artists like Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Ellie Fitzgerald emerged. Many were of African American heritage. Their singing was heavily influenced by gospel, hence some of the techniques they used. During this period, our understanding of the voice is not as great as it is now, hence why the singers' belt was often flawed and airy and their growls would damage their voices. It is important not to overlook this, so that you d not hurt yourself in the process.
  2. 2
    Remember that it is okay to be breathy. It's just when you're constantly breathy, you run the risk of damaging your voice. To practice with good technique and then add a little breathiness, but not too much, when performing, is a good rule.When listening to altos of the golden era of jazz, such as Nina Simone, one can hear the vocal damage she endured in her later work, and it doesn't sound good, therefore, make sure that you look after your voice regardless of how desperate you are so sound jazzy.
  3. 3
    Use the right, safe singing techniques.
    • Vibrato: Jazz stars got nowhere without their vibrato.
    • Belting: They're known for belting. However, their technique wasn't always correct, so don't emulate their belting. Instead, make sure you're doing it right.
    • Twang: In soul and jazz, powerful parts, especially after growls, singers would add a little twang to make their voices sound clearer. A singer who does this is Jennifer Hudson, most notably in Dreamgirls.
    • Growling: Jazz is famous for the growl. The big parts all have growling. Don't overdo it though. Only add it occasionally or it loses its loveliness.
    • Belting and then going quiet: This is a 'jazzy' thing that really came about because musical education wasn't that great back then and singers would rest their voices for a second before singing again after belting. Most people don't know this, though, so go ahead and do it and everyone will think you sound jazzy. In her jazz album Cheek to Cheek, Lady Gaga does this in Lady is a Tramp.
  4. 4
    Enjoy yourself. Many people think this is just cheesy advice, but really, jazz came from gospel, where singers weren't judged on technique. They were judged on feeling, power and expression. This is why fun and getting into character makes you sound genuine when singing music from the jazz era.

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