Your Starting Note – Top 5 Tips


No more fumbling; you can find that first note every time – says Joey Elkins.

A certain beginning to every song in your line-up will make for a stronger performance.

Here are the tips, tricks and ideas I’ve seen vocalists use to get that sometimes elusive first note.

1. Record Your Band’s Intro at a Rehearsal…
Why not just use an app on your smart phone at the next rehearsal to record all of the intros – and listen to these over and over again in your spare time away from the band. Immerse yourself – concentrating on that troublesome first note.

2. Spend Lots of Time In Front of A Keyboard…
…if you know enough to play the chords yourself and have access to one. Even just playing the bass notes of the chords leading up to your first note will be enough to get your ears and your voice used to what that note feels and sounds like. Look for little tricks in the chord just before the “entry chord”, perhaps your starting note is hiding in that chord somewhere and once you notice it, you’ll be able to train your ears to pick it out.

3. Listen to the Song on a CD…
Even though it might not be in your key, you’ll build familiarity with both the intro and the starting note. Eat, sleep, breathe and live it until you can’t help but hear that starting note before it’s sung on the CD.

4. Initiate a Special Practice Session with Your Pianist or Guitarist…
…and have him/her help you by figuring out each starting note for each song. I suggest writing this note on a list which includes the name of your song and the key you best sing it in. This gives you the option to ask for the starting note before the song even starts if you’re feeling particularly shaky or worried on the night of the gig.

5. Get a Special Starting Note Placement…
Ask your backing band/instrumentalists to place your starting note on the top of the last intro chord if it makes musical sense, or even on the chord you start your first note on. This will make things more obvious to your ear. Here’s a further idea to use only if it makes musical sense: wait a fraction of a second delaying your first note ever so slightly so that you have time to pick it out. Changing the phrasing like this is often perfectly acceptable so long as you don’t wait too long. Before you know it, you’ll be used to that note and can confidently and quickly come in on-target.

London based vocalist, Joey Elkins, is gaining attention as a jazz, funk, soul and contemporary singer. Australian born and bred, her first jazz recording attracted the interest of some of Australia’s finest jazz musicians leading her to regular performances in some of Australia’s top jazz venues. Being a natural improviser and composer enables Joey to own a variety of styles. Joey is currently recording and composing original music that will be released as a CD within the coming year. Check out Joey’s Music