Singing Survival Tactics

Singing Survival TacticsNBC reality show singers share essential lessons with all vocalists.

We’ve just finished participating in NBC’s Sing-Off – an elimination-style singing competition between America’s top a cappella groups.

Our group, Urban Method, battled 15 other groups, raced against the clock as each week, and was confronted with surprise song challenges.

We performed with Flo Rida, Sara Bareilles, Ben Folds, and other groups; more importantly, it stretched us to our limits and taught us some critical musical lessons that we’d like to pass on to you!

Myke Charles

A Rapper Who Led an A Cappella Group

As the front man and the rapper of Urban Method, I was faced with the challenge of pushing the group to the limit in terms of performance. However, I had to push myself more than anyone. The best way for me to stay on task and help others stay on task was to treat every rehearsal like the real thing. I would try to give my all every single time we sung a song – whether it was in the rehearsal room or on stage for sound check or working on choreography. The best way to lead is by example.

Liz Ager

A Vocalist Who Developed Nodes

The rigorous showbiz schedule put my old rusty techniques to the test! Our 8-12 hours of daily singing left me with nodes. Iʼve since taken voice lessons to correct my technique, particularly lessons to build stamina, integrate proper pelvic floor support, and maintain muscle relaxation so as not to compensate for a tired voice. I canʼt over-emphasize the importance of doing this right way!

Richard Steighner

A Beatboxer Who Beat Boxed Incessantly

Every rehearsal and performance required rhythm, sometimes 15 hours a day! The voiced and implosive sounds caused the most trouble, so I’d replace them with plosive dental and labial sounds (“Gm” with “P” and “Kr” with “Tshr”). This helped to hone new sounds and refine a groove without relying on volume.

Katie Turley

A Lead Vocalist Who Expanded Her Range

We learned that riffing or belting earned the most brownie points with the audience. So we arranged “Before He Cheats” to push my range 3-4 half steps above what I believed I could hit. My classical training especially helped in mixing chest and head voice and keeping vowels open in the back of the throat. Most importantly, I gained confidence with the support of my group. Now, it’s one of the most powerful spots in my range!

Kim Dawson

A Vocalist Who Stayed Healthy

Iʼm a voice coach, so I used those skills to stay healthy on the show. I got as much sleep as I could, drank lots of water, and didnʼt sing unless I absolutely had to. Precautions today mean you can sing tomorrow!


Urban Method is an American Hip Hop group with one catch – it’s all-vocal. Driven by beats and rhyme, innovative beat-boxing and vocal tricks, the group has always been considered innovative since emerging onto the national stage as finalists on NBC’s Sing-Off Electric performer and emcee Myke Charles fronts Urban Method, inventing and reinventing a new genre of sound. Watch Urban Method in action.