Sing Your Heart Out: Explore Your Voice Across Musical Genres | Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton | Skillshare

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Sing Your Heart Out: Explore Your Voice Across Musical Genres

teacher avatar Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton, Songwriters, Vocalists

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Exploring Classical Music


    • 3.

      Exploring Gospel Music


    • 4.

      Exploring The Blues


    • 5.

      Exploring Jazz


    • 6.

      Exploring R&B


    • 7.

      Exploring Music Theatre


    • 8.

      Exploring Rock


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


  • --
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About This Class

Armed with a wide range of musical genres and styles, you’ll be ready to take on any musical challenge. 

As professional songwriters and vocalists, Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton have turned their powerhouse voices into  powerhouse careers. Since 2008, the two singers have collectively and individually toured with major recording artists like Coldplay, Usher, Anita Baker, Demi Lovato, and Jessie J. They have also worked as vocalists on American Idol and The Voice and in films like Encanto, The Lion King, and Jordan Peele’s Us. Now ready to share their top singing tricks and techniques, Denise and Neka dive deep into different musical genres and how to use them to refine your voice. 

In this in-depth class, you’ll discover the vocal elements of seven different musical styles and genres in order to deepen and expand your vocal delivery and sound. You’ll learn to create and safely deliver different sounds by stretching your voice and musical knowledge to genres you might not usually sing.

Through Denise and Neka’s actionable lessons, you’ll 

  • Use breath, relaxation, support, and posture to work through the different styles
  • Discover the history and vocal elements within each music genre
  • Explore vowel work, vocal range, and voice through new styles
  • Diversify your vocal abilities and versatility  
  • Step outside of your comfort zone to find your unique voice

Plus, Denise and Neka share a m4a version of each musical genre so that you can test out each style with ease. 

In this class, you will not only learn the history and fun facts behind each musical genre, but you’ll also learn helpful tips on how to apply different vocal exercises and techniques to a wide variety of music. Once finished, you’ll have learned a range of musical styles all while strengthening your singing abilities and overall music knowledge.

The fourth class in Denise and Neka’s five part learning path was created for anyone curious about learning how to sing. Whether you grew up going to choir practice or you’re a dedicated shower singer with a desire to improve your voice, Denise and Neka will cover the importance of diversifying your music knowledge. If you’re completely new to singing, consider watching Denise and Neka’s first three classes on learning how to sing. As the only instrument you’ll always have with you, the only thing you’ll need for this class is your voice and, if desired, paper and a pencil for note taking.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton

Songwriters, Vocalists


Denise Carite and Neka Hamilton  are professional songwriters and vocalists who have turned their powerhouse voices into  powerhouse careers. Since 2008, the two singers have collectively and individually toured with major recording artists like Coldplay, Usher, Anita Baker, Demi Lovato, and Jessie J. They have also worked as vocalists on American Idol and The Voice and in films like Encanto, The Lion King, and Jordan Peele’s Us. Now ready to share their top singing tricks and techniques, Denise and Neka dive deep into performing and pursuing a musical career. 

Connect with Neka on Instagram and Denise at her website!

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: On the journey to discovering and uncovering your sound, we believe that staying open and versatile is essential. We want you to activate your best unapologetic cell and be fearless on this journey to finding and using your voice. [MUSIC] Hey all, I'm Neka. I am Denise. We are professional vocalists and songwriters. With over 15 years in the music industry, we have collectively and individually toured with major recording artists such as Coldplay, Usher, Anita Baker, Demi Lovato, and Jessie J, to name a few. We've learned that diversifying, and studying, and learning different music and singing styles has helped expand and deepen our pool of opportunities, and being in much more control of our voices and vocal delivery. Today we will be diving into various genres and styles of music, from classical styles to musical theater and jazz. [MUSIC] Having the ability and knowledge to create and safely deliver different sounds require stretching your voice. Even if it's not a style, you would usually sing. We ask that you submit a recording of yourself singing a warm up to a provided MP3. Whether your goal is to go platinum in the shower or on the Billboard charts, this class is for you. Let's get into it. 2. Exploring Classical Music: [MUSIC] There are numerous periods in the history of Western music, and each period had a specific sound from the early 1800s to the early 1900s. The romantic period consisted of composers that prioritized creating music that was inspired by emotional expression and individualism, which challenged the rules of classical composition from the previous period. When we think of classical singing, it is an approach that uses all the important elements of singing, which are breath, relaxation, support, posture, and so on. If you were to warm up in the style of a romantic era, it would sound something like this. You're my sunshine my only sunshine. Some vocal elements to apply when approaching classical singing are working on phrasing. This style normally requires long phrases, as you can hear, even at the end of the first warm-up I was winded. Words flow into one another. Being extra mindful of your breath support is essential. Consonant work and enunciating are vital in classical music due to it originally being performed in amphitheaters, where the acoustics supported the vocalist enough to not have any electronic amplification. Another vocal element to apply is vowel work that we mentioned in one of our other classes. Classical music tends to have a more darker and rounded sound. Be sure to keep these notes in mind if you have an interest in performing classical music. 3. Exploring Gospel Music : [MUSIC] Gospel music can be traced back to the early 17th century. During the slave era, Africans sang traditional hymns and spirituals as a means of communication and coping, thus making them the founding fathers of this sound. It is rooted in religious Christian lyrics and spiritually paired with powerful vocal presence and prominent harmonies. The sound started with just voices, no instruments were needed, and our hands and feet kept the beat. As the years went on, gospel music transformed, making for elaborate gospel choir arrangements with broad elements of secular style music merging the two as one. There are many different sub-genres of gospel, urban contemporary being the most current. You'll hear an innovation of soul urban music, syncopated rhythms, strong lead vocals accompanied by drums, bass, guitar, organ, and keys. While over the last century gospel continued to grow and evolve, it's never lost its roots. The theme that should come to mind when connecting with this style should be hope, deliverance, healing, love, and strength. Now I'm going to do some warm ups with runs going up, and runs coming down. [MUSIC] Practice with the warm-ups we provided in previous classes with a straight tone into vibrato, showcasing vocal control and range. Of course we love in embellishment. Practice incorporating the riff exercises we shared with you into other songs. Experiment with singing in a group and learning how to blend with other voices. 4. Exploring The Blues: [MUSIC] The blues emerged from the deep South in the late 1800s, carrying an iconic sound of African-American spirituals, field hollers, European hymns, and folk ballads. This genre of music is said to be the most communicative as it pertains to raw emotions and its genuine delivery. When you think of the blues, what comes to mind? What comes to mind is misfortune, sadness, betrayal, and maybe even regret. Though the music derive from a place of sadness, the blues still provided opportunity for freedom of expression. There are many layers to uncover when approaching music theory, and we could be here all day teaching on this. To simplify for you, we'll be sharing a warm-up using the blue scale. Four little monkeys jumping on the bed one fell off and bumped his head. Thank you Ryan. Some vocals stylistic elements to incorporate when singing the blues are somewhat parallel to the same approach to gospel music. Other important elements are rhythmic phrasing, remembering to respect the space in the music. Belting notes that are at the top of your voice register and using your ability to transition from head to chest voice. Keep in mind that when performing the genre, it's okay to have flaws. There may be vulnerable moments which can lead to your voice cracking, but don't be alarmed. It can make for an honest performance. 5. Exploring Jazz: Jazz originated right here in America during the early 1900s. Derived from the blues this drama which was birthed from African American culture and community, has a mixture of European structure in harmony with African rhythmic percussive styles. What makes this jazz is so unique is that it continues to evolve due to the influences of many other cultures and communities. The style we are about to explore has a swing jazz feel. Ready Brian? 1, 2, 1, 2, 3. [MUSIC] Thanks Brian. That my friends is what you call a nursery rhyme turned jazz standard. Some vocal elements to sit with when singing and practicing jazz are exploring inflected speech tones, which goes back to our diction and vowel work, conversational rhythmic phrasing, and remember to be distinctive and personal. We suggest for you to not only study some of the old and new jazz singers, but also instrumentalists as they can have an influence on your vocal choices when singing. 6. Exploring R&B: [MUSIC] The first official mention of the genre R&B was in the late 1940s by Billboard Magazine. Rhythm comes from the steady pulse and a four beat measure, emphasizing beats 2 and 4. Blues comes from the lyrical and melodic approach to blues music. We like to think of R&B as an infusion of jazz, blues, pop, rock, gospel, and hip hop with a smooth, funky beat. Every era of this genre takes from the previous one and adds to the next. It's the gift that keeps on giving. A personal favorite of ours and one of the most special periods of R&B was the late '80s and early '90s. It was during this time that Teddy Riley pioneered what was known as New Jack Swing, giving a sound of contemporary R&B while adding up tempo, explosive tastes of hip hop. This sound still heard today was reintroduced to a new generation by the likes of Bruno Mars and some of his contemporaries. Now we're going to do a warm up in an R&B style. [MUSIC] Thanks Brian. When you think of R&B, it has a lot to do with the vibe delivery and emotion. Vibrato can be used as a vocal element to enhance performance singing this style. You are normally given full permission to experiment with riffs and runs at your own discretion. Just make sure you don't overdo it. Placement is everything as it pertains to when you decide to riff and run, how you sing a phrase and of course, how you yield to your vulnerability while singing with skill. And don't forget, have fun with it. 7. Exploring Music Theatre: [MUSIC] Musical theater is quite the genre. It involves acting, singing, spoken dialogue, and sometimes movement or dancing. Most historians trace the earliest forms of musical theater back to ancient Greece. Over centuries, the style evolved many times over, carrying itself into Great Britain, France, Germany, and the US. The style we are going to explore is from the contemporary musical theater of time period. It generally has a contemporary pop-rock influence with a bright-sounding tone, high belting and is speech-driven. Here's an example of something you would hear in a musical theater setting. For this one, we are going to sing the first line of Bingo, the nursery rhyme, up until O. [MUSIC] Thank you, Ryan. Musical theater is associated not only with music but with acting so take the opportunity to characterize your performance with a mindset of thinking big, even when sounding small. Vocal elements to apply here would be to really dig into consonant work and vowel work. Being able to shift gears with your chest from mix and then to falsetto is essential due to musical theater being dramatic and needing to express emotions through song. Remember that your whole body is at work when performing and singing, especially when it comes to musical theater. Tapping into your emotions is a part of the essence of this genre so really connecting with each part of the performance is vital. 8. Exploring Rock : [MUSIC] Rock and roll made its public debut on mainstream radio by a DJ in the US during the 1950s. The fundamentals of this genre are found in African-American blues and R&B music with an accompaniment of gritty vocals and guitar. Crashing symbols, energetic vocals with the fine lyrics from artists that did not like the color inside the lines. The 80's rock era came post disco era and made room for various rock styles such as glam metal, shred guitar, soft rock, synthesized music, and so many more. Today, we'll focus on the style of soft rock. [MUSIC] Thanks, Brian. Some vocal elements to consider when singing rock is glottal onsets. Now, you don't want your vocal chords always hitting together so hard during your entire set or song. Making choices on where to use it would be key. Preferably certain words that are meaningful in the song lyric. Most people think that in order to sing in this style it requires you to sing high and loud. Although being able to build in high notes is a plus, the solid foundation of a rock singer should be their chest voice with the ability to move into their mix voice fluidly. Let's rock. 9. Final Thoughts: [MUSIC] Guys, we made it to the end of the class. We hope that you enjoyed exploring the genres and styles that were broken down for you today. We shared some fun facts and basic helpful tips on how to apply our previous teachings to many different styles of music. Even if it's something that you don't typically listen to or naturally got to sing, we encourage you to step outside of the box and welcome versatility. While you're taking the time to learn and be imposture of humility, as you explore different parts of your voice, once you retain and reach a place of comfortability, it's just as important for you to tune in and turn on your confidence. This will translate to your audience and provide an experience. As always, be sure to spend time with your voice and do warm-ups 20-30 minutes minimum a day. Hydrate, that's very important. We encourage you to go to live performances with the mindset of observing the way the vocalist delivers. Something that Denise and I are adamant about is studying those that came before us, even if it's a genre that you aren't initially familiar with or drawn to, stepping out of your comfort zone is where you'll truly find yourself. In this case, find your voice. For your class assignment please submit a recording of yourself of any three of the warm-up styles we showcased. There are MP3s available in the class resources. At the end of each class, we like to do an affirmation. You can repeat after us or just listen and absorb the positive vibes. I am capable. I am patient with myself. I gave myself permission to learn. If it's meant to be, it is up to me.