How to find the right key to sing in while playing piano

How to find the right key to sing in while playing piano

So the question is “How do I know, or figure out, what key is best for me to sing a tune in?”

Different songs all have different melody lines that have different ranges between their highest and lowest notes.

Examples:
Take Me out to the Ballgame in F then in C

For that reason, a particular song will be best played for your particular range in some particular key. i.e. You need to shift the melody line into your range as best you can and then determine what key is needed to fit the melody line there.

So you can kind of sum it up as saying your range doesn’t identify one key that is best for you for every tune, but rather, you should sing tunes in whatever particular key for that tune gets that tune’s melody into your range.

For example, you might need to sing the song Misty in the key of F but I might need to sing the song Jingle Bells in the key of D because those two tune’s melodies are not exactly the same. So singers tend to learn what key a particular tune they are wanting to sing is best for them. But it’s not a situation where one key is best for every song, because every song has a different melody line that has a different range.

So that then leads head first into the topic of transposing, which lets you easily (once you get it figured out) “slide” a tune up or down a few notes to get the melody comfortably in your range. The main concept is just taking the chord changes to a tune and moving them all up or down the same interval (or number of half-steps) throughout the entire tune.

In the real world, Scott gives the example that he would sing along with a tune from a Lead Sheet at the beginning and see if he can sing it in that key without it getting way too high or low for him. If it is uncomfortably high, he would just transpose it down a couple of notes until it gets that high part he is having trouble with down into hi range. He then will just “learn” the tune in that key instead and will play it there enough times until he gets the chord changes memorized. Then – no more Lead Sheet and he would have another tune in his basket to play in a key that works for his vocal range 🙂

So to summarize and wrap this up – just remember: No one has one key that is “their” best key to sing in all the time. Rather, you’ll have a favorite key to sing some particular tune in, and that key may be different for different tunes based on the range of that tune’s melody line.

Hopefully that helps clear something that is OFTEN misunderstood.

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Scott’s life goal is to help you learn to play piano through piano lessons that you can take anywhere and at any time to get you started having some fun at a piano or keyboard as quickly as possible.

Scott Houston is the host of The Piano Guy television series on Public Television and has taught hundreds of thousands of folks like yourself, how to have some fun on their piano or keyboard. He wants to help you get there too—as quickly as possible.

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How to find the right key to sing in while playing piano

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