When it comes to music, there are plenty of different musical styles each with their repertoires including rock, soul, funk, blues, etc. A cappella music is a different type of singing altogether; it involves several singers, a choral group, or soloists singing together without any instrumental accompaniment.

This type of polyphonic musical performance without an instrumental without any background music requires excellent vocal skills. Furthermore, a cappella singing is an ancient vocal music style whose origins predate that of music with instruments. There are plenty of vocal groups that have been around for a while and it’d be a good idea to join them.

In this article, Superprof is looking at how you can discover a cappella, its origins, and the best songs you can learn for it as well as the different vocal techniques you’ll need to perform a cappella and the online platforms you can use to work on these techniques. We’re going to cover almost everything!

The History of A Cappella Singing

A cappella singing, whether in concerts or by a gospel or church choirs, has a long and fascinating history.

When was a cappella created?
A cappella singing was originally sung in churches. (Source: Tama66)

A cappella singing is so old that we don’t know its exact origins. We know that singing without instruments existed in Mesopotamia 2,000BCE and this is one of the only records we have of polyphonic singing without instrumental accompaniment

The a cappella singing that we’re interested in has its origins in sacred music; that’s to say that a cappella was sung in churches and chapels. During the first millennium, instruments weren’t used (especially in Gregorian chants) and it wouldn’t be until the medieval and modern periods that organs would be introduced.

A cappella singing developed during the 15th and 16th centuries into the madrigal, a type of singing with between 2 and 8 people during the Renaissance and Baroque eras Similarly, cantata, a type of vocal composition with instrumental accompaniment, developed.

In the 19th century, changes started to take place; a cappella singing was no longer just for churches. However, its religious function was still important and choir groups of children were formed. Around the same time, other similar disciplines were born in the United States including Barbershop in the 1039s and doo-wop in the 1940s.

Nowadays, a cappella music can be found all over the world. There are groups like Pentatonix, Voca People, and Peter Hollens as well as in popular series and films like Glee and Pitch Perfect.

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The Best Music for Learning to Sing A Cappella

If you want to give your vocal cords a good workout for a cappella, you can practise the art of polyphonic singing. There are plenty of great songs for learning to sing a cappella.

What's the best music for learning to sing a cappella?
If you've got an instrument, you're probably doing it wrong. (Source: 691806)

Among the most popular types of music for getting started with a cappella, there are also nursery rhymes. You need to get your voice accustomed to certain notes whether you’re a baritone, soprano, or tenor and nursery rhymes are great for this.

Among the most popular nursery rhymes and children’s songs, you’ll find:

  • The Wheels on the Bus
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm
  • Bingo
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • Frère Jacques
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It

These will help you learn the basics of music and what kind of voice you have. You can then move onto more mature songs and start your training. Generally, folk and soft rock are good for learning how to sing a cappella.

Here are some great popular songs to get you started:

  • Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder
  • My Way - Frank Sinatra
  • Moon River - Barbra Streisand
  • She Will Be Loved - Maroon 5
  • Hello - Adele
  • Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
  • Country Roads - John Denver

By singing well-known songs, you’ll both enjoy your singing and also be able to practise without needing a band accompanying you. If you want to sing any other songs, make sure they’re appropriate for you.

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Learning to Sing A Cappella with YouTube

Of all the musical disciplines, a cappella doesn’t get as much recognition as it deserves. With that being the case, it can be difficult finding tutorials for those who want to learn how to sing in this style. Fortunately, there are YouTube a cappella tutorials to help you.

Where can you find a cappella tutorials?
There are plenty of great tutorials on YouTube. (Source: StockSnap)

Whether you’re a composer, choirmaster, in a trio or quarter, or just a member of amateur chorists, you must get lessons to help you. While singing lessons can be quite costly (though there are some very affordable tutors on Superprof!), there are plenty of free video tutorials on YouTube.

There are plenty of videos to help you learn how to sing a cappella. Here are some ones to get you started:

YouTube A Cappella Tutorials

Learning to sing a cappella is easier when you’ve got someone guiding you and these YouTubers are great with music, singing, and many of them have studied music to a very high level. When you study how to sing with YouTube tutorials, you might be surprised at just how quickly you can progress.

Which are the best YouTube a cappella tutorials?
Have a look on YouTube for some great a cappella tutorials. (Source: StockSnap)

Improving Your Voice with A Cappella

To join a group and start singing some a cappella melodies, you’ll need to practise. You can’t sing a cappella without training your voice and that’s why Superprof has some techniques for you to improve your singing.

"Singing is like a celebration of oxygen." - Bjork

If you agree with this quote, then you’ve probably got the heart of a singer. This means that the first thing you’ll have to do is learn how to sing in key. In reality, you’ll have to adjust your voice to the song that you’re singing but it can be difficult without background music.

To sing a cappella, your voice will need to be in tune with each musical note. This will come naturally if you’ve got a connection to the song and can replicate all the notes in the song.

Secondly, you’ll need to master your breathing and this can take some time if you want to sing well. The diaphragm is particularly important when it comes to singing and you should feel it when you’re singing. By working on your breathing, not only will you improve your singing but you’ll also feel less stressed when you perform.

Thirdly, you’ll need to warm up before you start singing. Before you do anything, you need to rest your voice for 7 hours if you want it to be at its best. Once it’s in good condition, you need to warm up your vocal cords before you can start singing.

Now you know a bit more about singing a cappella. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out our other articles on the subject. Furthermore, if you want private tutorials, you can get in touch with private tutors on Superprof.

Finally, it’s recommended that you get singing lessons. There are plenty of experienced and talented private singing tutors on Superprof.

If you want to learn to sing, improve your singing voice, or just hit some of those high notes, a voice teacher, music teacher, or private tutor can help you work on the singing techniques you'll need to improve your voice.

Before you can start belting some tunes in an a cappella group, make sure you've honed each skill in a singing lesson. Voice training is the best way to improve your singing ability and if you don't want to sing off-key, getting help from a professional is the way to go.

The advantage of a private tutor is that you get to choose which singing technique you want to focus on. As the only student in the class, you're their only focus so the singing practice will be tailored to you. You vocal lessons will be designed with you in mind and the vocal exercises will be tailored to you. Even if you think you're tone-deaf, you can find singing success with a voice coach!

On Superprof, there are plenty of talented and experienced singing tutors to help you improve your voice. There are three main types of singing tutorial on offer: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each type of tutorial comes with its pros and cons and some tend to be more expensive than others so you need to carefully think about what's available, how you like to learn, and what your budget is.

Generally, the more expensive the tutorial, the more tailored your lessons will be. Similarly, the more costly a tutorial is, the more cost-effective it is. However, not everyone can justify paying the hourly rate of some tutors or they don't live near their ideal tutor. Fortunately, there are so many different tutors and types of tutorials that everyone should be able to find something that works for them.

Make sure that you benefit from the fact that many tutors on Superprof offer the first hour of tuition for free so you can see if they're right for you and if you get along.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.