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How a Classically Trained Vocalist Can Authentically Sing Contemporary Vocal Styles like R&B

If you are a classically trained vocalist looking to expand your repertoire and explore contemporary vocal styles like R&B, you may feel like you are stepping into unfamiliar territory. But with the right approach and guidance from an experienced vocal coach, you can learn to sing in a way that feels authentic and true to your own voice.

Here are 10 steps to help you achieve that goal:

1. Listen to Contemporary R&B Music

If you want to sing in the R&B style, you need to first get familiar with the genre. Listen to contemporary R&B artists and focus on the vocal techniques they use. Pay attention to the style, rhythm, and phrasing of their singing.

2. Identify Your Own Vocal Style

As a classically trained vocalist, you have a unique vocal style that you can draw upon when singing R&B. Spend time analyzing your existing strengths and weaknesses to identify what you can bring to the table.

3. Learn to Emote and Connect with Your Audience

R&B is about feeling and emotion. To sing in this style, you need to be able to connect with your audience and convey emotion through your singing. Practice singing with feeling and focus on expressing emotions in your voice.

4. Work on Your Rhythm and Phrasing

Many R&B songs feature complex rhythms and phrasing. Spend time practicing your timing and rhythm, and work on mastering the syncopated rhythms that are common in R&B music.

5. Experiment with Vocal Effects

R&B singers often use vocal effects like vibrato, runs, and falsetto to add depth and texture to their singing. Experiment with these techniques to find what works best for you.

6. Develop Your Ear Training

Ear training is essential for any singer, but it is especially important when learning to sing in a contemporary style like R&B. Spend time practicing your ear training exercises and working on your ability to recognize and reproduce different vocal techniques.

7. Practice Breath Control

Breath control is crucial when singing in any style, but it is especially important when singing R&B. Practice breathing exercises and focus on maintaining consistent breath control throughout your performance.

8. Experiment with Different Microphone Techniques

Microphone technique is an important aspect of R&B singing. Experiment with different microphone techniques to find what works best for you and helps you achieve the sound you are looking for.

9. Work with a Vocal Coach

A vocal coach can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and develop a plan for achieving your goals. They can provide personalized feedback and guidance to help you improve your singing and make progress towards your goals.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Finally, remember that practice is key when learning to sing in any style, including R&B. Set aside time each day to practice your vocal techniques, and focus on developing the skills and techniques that will help you achieve your goals.

By following these 10 steps and working with an experienced vocal coach such as Johnny Ray of, you can learn to sing in the R&B style and develop your own unique vocal sound.

References and Citations:

- Oda, H. (2016). A comprehensive study of R&B singing for western-classically trained singers. Berklee College of Music.

- Peavey, J. (2001). The Contemporary Singer: Elements of Vocal Technique. Hal Leonard Corporation.

- Phillips, T. (2012). Vocal Anatomy and Physiology. Berklee College of Music.


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