The Irish tradition is rich in singing with thousands of native love songs, pub songs, songs of immigration, songs in Irish (Gaeilge) and songs in English. Irish Song Technique and Songs in Irish are both taught by Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, one of the most well known and influential singers in Ireland today. These song tutorials focus on enunciation, tone, techinque, phrasing and breathing. By taking these lessons, you will also gain a richer knowledge of Irish culture and tradition. If you want to learn some Pub Songs for a sing-a-long, with guitar accompaniment thrown in, head over to Popular Irish Pub Songs.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Singing answered by Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
How do I stop from getting hoarse?
Good technique is everything in singing, your posture, breathing and voice placement will affect your vocal health. We touch on these things in the course. It is also important to be rested and to stay well hydrated – vocalists call it “peeing clear”!
Other things that can help with vocal hygiene are steam, saline nasal rinses, honey, cider vinegar, hot tea and a gentle ‘hummy’ warm up before practice or performance.
Things to avoid: coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, cream, shouting and too much talking before and after performance.
How do I sing using a mic?
I always like to think of the microphone as someone’s ear. You can sing quietly and intimately through a mic and reach the person at the end of the room. It’s important to realise the difference between singing acoustically and with amplification. If you go for a louder note, back away gently from the mic, as you would if you were singing into someone’s ear. I keep about 6 inches between me and the mic usually. If you ‘sit on top of it’ the sound will be muffled and the diction will be indistinct.
How do I increase my range?
Students come to me often complaining about how they can’t hit a high or low note in a song. I feel it is important to stretch out out ranges from just our speaking voice tones to get extra versatility. By slowly humming 5 notes up and down from the bottom to the top of your range daily you can gently stretch by a semi-tone at a time on either side. This should mean that eventually a song sits comfortably in your mid-range and you should have a few notes grace on either side, so your voice feels most comfortable.
How do I improve my tuning?
Tuning is all important. If your ear is untrained, it can sometimes be tricky to pick up melodies. Especially with complex sean-nós melodies that are taught by ear. It helps to break phrases down and to even draw out the pattern of the notes. Some people do very well to sing along with an instrument rather than another voice, it helps them avoid confusion. If you do play an instrument, play the air on the instrument. That way you are getting it into your head using the easist most direct route known to you. Muscle memory is everything and pre-planning. Singers are always a step ahead of the notes they are singing.
How do I not run out of breath during a phrase?
Breathing is our engine and keeps us going as singers. When we run out of breath we struggle to complete our song as we start to suffer physically from oxygen shortage: dizziness, sweating, shortage of breath; we all know these feelings! It is important to remember that we need to breathe more efficiently than usual as we need our normal amount of breath (to live!) and the extra for singing. Through the lessons I show how to breathe using the diaphragm, to achieve a full breath, and then to exhale with care, not wasting breath on sounds like “ha”, “Sh” and “ah”. Through using a correct balance between air and sound, you achieve a perfect tone. And by staying a step ahead and conserving air for the end of your phrase, you should reach the end of your line with ease before topping up again efficiently and effectively.
Just wondered if you have courses for male singers - or are the songs accessible for men and women? I was wondering about pitch as well as lyrics.
Yes you may have to change the pitch depending upon your vocal range. We will certainly look into creating an Irish song course for men, it’s a great idea !
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