What is your favourite song? Most of us struggle to narrow this choice down to a single song as there are just too many songs that move us emotionally .

The best songs usually remind us of magical moments we shared with loved ones and they can trigger deep, complex feelings.

Every single singer, whether they are professional, amateur, part of a choir or just a sing-in-the-shower singer, has a list of popular songs they would like to master. A song they feel is the best song for them to sing as it would require exceptional vocal skills. Or, they might just find it suitable for their voice type or style. Some of us want to sing a specific song because we relate to it in many ways and see it as part of our life.

Whatever your reason for loving specific songs, it is guaranteed that you are already thinking about one or two that you would want to learn to sing.

So, whether you plan to blow everyone away with the best Karaoke songs or believe you are born to sing and want to master a chart-chopping number one song from your favourite singer, we’ve got you covered …

Childhood Lullabies

Some of the most catchy tunes we know are childhood lullabies our mothers sang to get us to sleep.

These memorable songs create a universal musical language that crosses cultural barriers and dates back to ancient times.

Simply look at the effect a lullaby has on a child and you’ll notice that there’s certainly something magical to them.

But you might still be asking why an adult or more experienced singer would delve into lullabies when they are such easy songs to sing? When exploring that question a bit further, the world of lullabies was shown to help us, not only in specific singing quests, but also in life.

Learn Lullabies to Benefit Your Family

Multiple studies have been conducted showing how music stimulates and benefits brain development in babies and children.

It’s been scientifically proven that, not only will classical music improve your baby’s mental and cognitive capabilities, but they will also sleep better, learn faster, take more easily to complex subjects and excel at self-expression.

Whether you have a child of your own or maybe a nephew or niece, by learning to soothingly sing those lullabies or in creating your own sing-along songs, you will expose them to the magical world of music.

Surely a smarter and happier next generation is music to your ears.

Smart children sing
Music is proven to make children smarter ~ Image by jhfl on Pixabay

Improve Your Memory

Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but it’s a proven fact that music can improve your memory as well.

Studies like the ‘Mozart effect’ have shown just how much classical music can improve students’ cognitive abilities and memory.

Gain Musical Skills

Don’t underestimate catchy little tunes like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Baa-Baa Black Sheep’.

Like most lullabies, they are based on the melodies that famous conductors like Mozart created.

Understanding these basic lullabies should give you a foundational understanding of music and how composition can be simplified.

One of the best methods to challenge your singing skills is to take a historically well-known lullaby and give it your own spin and in a genre of your choice.

Imagine creating a rock version of  ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’? This form of creativity will allow you to produce something fresh, so what are you waiting for?

Heritage Songs and Classics

With 11 official languages and a wide range of colourful tribes, South Africa provides ample material and learning opportunities for any eager singer who wants to expand their vocal horizons.

African music
African musicians can inspire us to create newer sounds and genres ~ Photo by Moises Alex on Unsplash

Music has been a form of expression since the beginning of time, and in South Africa it is no different.

Against a backdrop of apartheid and political strife, some of our freedom fighters decided to use music to speak up.

The country has produced world-class singers and bands with a real message to change the world they found themselves in.

They created songs that are grounded in a foundation of purpose and any singer should be honoured to take on some of these classical heritage songs, to only mention a few:

  • Pata-Pata or the Click Song. Miriam Makeba was a Grammy Award winner and big activist in the fight against the apartheid regime.
  • Jabulani sung by PJ Powers. Pj is someone with a raspy voice, whose music was banned due to her expressing her beliefs to integrate all people in South Africa.
  • Grazing the Grass was a hit in the 1960s by Hugh Masekela, ‘The Father of Jazz’. He was an inspirational trumpeter, composer, cornetist, singer and icon.
  • Johnny Clegg’s Asimbonanga. Known as the ‘White Zulu’ he created several hits with his band Savuka.
  • Umqombothi is only one of many well-known Yvonne Chaka Chaka songs. Yvonne was the first person Nelson Mandela chose to represent his Children’s Fund and she continues to fight for people’s rights.
  • Special Star by Mango Groove. One of the iconic radio hits this Afroband created by blending pop and township music.

South Africa’s music scene is as diverse as its people and filled with fables and campfire songs that have been passed on.

Folk songs move from generation to generation, and millions of stories still get shared today as we continue to give life to our rich cultural heritage through song.

This provides local singers the opportunity to learn from other cultures who are literally on their doorstep as they strive to create music that’s unique and colourful.

English Classics From All Eras

Writing a list of the great singers from the past leaves us with a sheet that goes on for days. Not only have they left an imprint on the music industry, but they have also carved a path out for today’s musicians.

They changed the world through voicing their own style and unique sound and brought classic genres to life. But the part every singer should be most interested in, is how these singers created music that has stayed with us.

Why not challenge yourself by taking a vocal trip down memory lane?

Some songs will be easier to master as they are most probably within your range and suited to your voice type. If you are a soprano or tenor, you might feel inspired to take on the challenging ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or one of the more operatic numbers that Maria Callas or Luciano Pavarotti sang. Baritones can challenge their vocal range by learning how to sing one of the unforgettable Frank Sinatra ballads, while alto voices could explore pop songs by Tracy Chapman or Amy Winehouse.

Creativity and creating a new sound, however, lies outside the box and therefore we encourage you to challenge yourself in taking on songs that you love, even if you think they might be too hard.

Try and see whether you could make them fit your voice while you continue to ensure you practise proper vocal health.

selective focus photo of Elvis Presley ornament
Challenge yourself by singing one of the musical classics - Image from Unsplash

The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, The Beatles, Coldplay and many more rock bands of our time have created songs that will push the boundaries of most vocalists. Consult with a professional voice coach if you decide to venture into any extreme, unfamiliar singing genres that could put pressure on your vocal cords. They will ensure you use proper warm up exercises and correctly apply voice techniques to limit vocal strain.

This way you can learn to reproduce the raspy sound that rock bands are known for without stressing about nodules or vocal cord injuries.

Your understanding and capability to sing the basic genres created by the pioneers of music will not only bring you a great sense of achievement, but you will also impress audiences who are probably familiar with their songs and music.

We therefore also challenge you explore all genres of music; learn more about rap songs, country songs, love songs, parody songs, party songs, funeral songs and understand why even some silly songs became the greatest songs of all time.

Exploring The Hot and Happening Songs

New songs make the possibility of finding a song that you love and love to sing so much easier. Maybe you’ve heard a brand new upbeat song by Imagine Dragons on the radio. Or Ed Sheeran’s ballad on this week’s top 20 charts sparked a thought that it might just be ideal for you to sing.

Every week we are exposed to new and innovative music as artists push the boundaries and create new content. They create striking harmonies and duets where they flip between their chest voice and their head voice.

Most of these songs are brand new and you might have to do some online research to find a website that recently produced a backing track you can sing to. If you plan to sing this week's chart-topping song in your next singing lesson, and have a music teacher who can play piano, we recommend you download and print the sheet music from an online site ahead of your class.

Our local industry is geared towards creativity and innovation around music.

Amapiano, a fairly new sub-genre of house music, has been making quite a bit of noise over the last couple of years.

Exploring this or any other new type of music style might send you in a refreshing new musical direction as you explore your own individual and unique sound.

Sing and adapt no. 1 songs
Putting your flavour on the current no. 1 track can get you seen on the music scene. ~ Photo by Moises Alex on Unsplash

Keep Singing

The possibilities of finding a song that you love that’s fitting for your voice type are endless.

It is an exciting discovery journey that each and every singer goes through and you will learn a great deal about your feelings towards the art, other people and your own human nature in the process.

If your objectives go beyond singing songs in your car or at the next Karaoke, we recommend you make this journey easier by finding a professional voice coach. They will help you to expand your musical vocabulary as you explore these genres and music types. They will also provide musical pedagogy with voice exercises and techniques as you work towards creating a song list, or repertoire, that includes the old, the new, the striking and the blue of music.

So, which hit song or classic song do you want to tackle next? Hopefully, it will not only challenge you, but also make you fall in love with singing all over again!

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Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.