Unsurprisingly, this'll probably be a long post as I use ten times as many words as are necessary but bear with me...
I'm filling in for my friends wedding band over the next year or two, with the first show being next month. They play around 300 shows a year so they're well known and in demand, so it's a total honour to sing with them and I want to be at the top of my game as much as possible by then. Basically I've got about 2-3 weeks to learn 57 songs before I rehearse with them, some of which I don't even know and stuff like Ed Sheeran, which I'd usually avoid with a ten-foot barge pole! After I get the main set down, it'll be fine and I don't see it as an unrealistic goal to have all songs sorted within the timescale, but I've got a few questions that I hope can also help others hence posting it here.
- I've sung some of these songs before when my technique sucked. I hit the notes (sometimes) and distorted a lot through trying to reproduce someone else's sound. For example, "Long Train Running" really suits my voice when I belt and I can slide into the clean "Oooohh...where would you be now" smoothly from a more distorted tone BUT I don't want to distort that way anymore (or at all until I'm solid in Volumes 2 and 3). I've noticed that I still fall into those bad habits when going into higher notes but I'm trying to retrain the muscle to relax.
Is there any way to optimise this process? Is is best to just go back to basics, work softly and gradually build it up?
This band run a silent stage, basically, and all use in-ear monitoring with individual mixes so there'll be no problem with volume if I still need to pull back a bit. They're also really professional and understand the importance of the vocal (their live mixes are pristine in terms of vocal level), so I'm not worried about blow-outs or fatigue. I know if I get these wee annoying habits out of the way, I'll be able to do the whole set with ease and without losing my voice the next day.
- I plan to strip every single song, even if I know it well, back to pure vowels and spend this week doing nothing but that (after warm-ups and exercises, of course). I figure training my throat to stay open like this while also having to memorize the words and their vowel sounds will be a two-fold exercise. Do you think spending a week doing at least 3-4 hours a day, working on vowel sounds without full lyrics, would be overkill or not enough? I know it's likely down to whether or not I feel I've 'got' it any quicker or whether I feel I need more time on specifics, but I thought I'd see if you folks had any input.
Aside from these questions, I was wondering whether anyone had any other tips on learning new material quickly? I know I've had to learn 40 songs and the arrangements the band I was with did, all within about two weeks and basically just constantly listening to the songs and reading the lyrics was about as complicated as my approach got. When I write it all out, it seems like a daft question...hahaha!