Connect With Your Song: Sing It Like a Monologue
Connect With Your Song: Sing It Like a Monologue

Connect With Your Song: Sing It Like a Monologue

Audition Prep for Singers. Treat Your Song Like a Monologue. Man Reading Monologue on a Stage

Sing It Like a Monologue

Why are some performances over-the-top ah-maze-ing and some fall a little flat? Or. Better question. What about the less-than-perfect singer who manages to knock their song out of the park? Meanwhile, the technically perfect singer sounds great, but their song is forgettable. What’s the secret?


A stellar performance needs the singer to connect with their piece. It doesn’t matter the genre – songs have a message, a character, a meaning. They aren’t just a collection of pitches and words. Our job requires us to figure it out. If we can’t – or worse, don’t bother to do it – then we may sing that song perfectly – precise rhythms, masterful vocal technique, perfect intonation. But will the audience remember what you sang ten minutes after they walk out of the performance venue? Probably not.

So how do we make it memorable?

Start with the text.

Treat your song like a monologue. Actors, you’re already doing this, right?

“But I’m not an actor!” That may be true, but humor me.

Whether you believe yourself to be an actor or not, grab the song you’re working on and read a verse out loud. Speak it. Don’t sing it.

How did you do? Did you just read it? Or did you…

  • Naturally emphasize words in each phrase or sentence?
  • Did your natural spoken rhythm mostly line up with the song’s rhythm?
  • Over the course of a couple of phrases, did the volume of your speech change? Were you consistently loud or soft or did it vary?

Or did you read it like a robot?

Go back and try again. Don’t over think it. Just imagine how you’d say the phrase if you were in a conversation.

Now sing the phrase. How did it feel? How did it sound?

What kind of conversation does this song represent? Are you happy? Pleading with someone? Sad? Anxious? Read the phrase again. Now sing it.

What did you notice this time around?

Now, mark your music like a monologue.

Mark the words you gravitated towards. When putting together a monologue this is called marking your beats.

Beats in monologues are pauses and where there is a change in emotion, dynamic, or purpose. In music, we have rests and punctuation to give us our pauses, but everything else is up to us.

I mark my beats by underlining words. Use a system that works for you, but be careful not to use the same symbol you would use to mark your breaths (like a checkmark).

You musical theatre folks can take this one step further and build your character on these beats. Hang your emotions, your expressions, and your movement on them. Make them part of your blocking.

But I’m not singing musical theatre!

So what? Are you still singing phrases or sentences? Does your song still have a meaning, message, or character? You may not be putting together a full character like the theatre folks are, but you still have something to say.

Do you want to say it like a human or a robot? Unless you’re performing in some avant-garde robot performance art gig, I’d go with human.

Classical singers take note: If you’re singing in a language that you aren’t fluent in, I hope you’ve already written the literal translation into your music. You haven’t? Then that’s your first step! Don’t rely on the translation in your music book. It’s probably nice poetry that rhymes, but it’s most likely not the translation of what you’re singing.

This seems like a lot of work.

It is. The singers who make it look effortless did a whole lotta work to make it appear that way.

We don’t get up and sing in front of people so we’ll be forgotten ten minutes after we’re done. Learning to connect with our songs is part of our craft. Good vocal technique will help us sound great and it will help us convey the meaning, but only if we take the time to work it out.

Looking for some help pulling your vocal and performance technique together?

Let’s talk!