Cabaret Tip Tuesday At McElrath Cabaret: Finding Your Start Note–Join Us!


Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!

A dear friend sent me this video today, and it was so much fun I want to share it with you, even though it is not directly related to cabaret–it’s just fun, and if you are a classic film lover like me you will enjoy it!  This is a video of stars who were famous at MGM Studios back in the studio’s heyday in the 1920s-1950s.  The video was taped in 1974, on MGM’s 50th anniversary, and features people who were still alive then who had worked at MGM.  Remarkably, you will see Adele and Fred Astaire together–very little video of them together, and none of them dancing together, which is a shame.  Some more information from Wikipedia on MGM, most notably in the history section–enjoy!


First, my apologies if the sidebar of our website is not showing up properly.  A kind reader let me know that there was a problem, and I am working on trying to fix it.  I’m not a computer guru, so these things are rather a challenge, but I do appreciate your patience with it, and hope to have it resolved very soon.


Welcome to Cabaret Tip Tuesday at McElrath Cabaret, where we offer cabaret performance tips to help you put together a great performance at your next show!


Today I’m thinking about becoming a better cabaret singer, so my tip for you today is this:  Here are a couple of tips for finding the starting note of your song.


This is a basic tip for singers, one that experienced singers know and use, almost without thinking about it, but I thought it might be useful for those who are starting out.


here are a couple of different ways for finding the starting note of a song that you are singing.  They both deal with listening to what is happening in the musical introduction to your song before you sing.


1–If you are performing with a rhythm section backing you, listen to the bass player.  If you are working with just a piano player, listen to the notes coming out of the left hand playing the bass part.  The bassist often is playing the root of the chord as the first chord when you are to start singing, and this is often (not always, but often) the start note for the vocalist.  It can be hard to find your note at times, especially if you happen to be performing with a larger band that has horns–it’s difficult to hear over the horns’ volume sometimes to find your note being played by the piano or bass.  So try to be standing as close to the rhythm section as you can, or at least have a lot of rhythm section coming through your monitor so you can hear them over the horns to stay on pitch.


2–Listen for an ascending or descending scale run in the musical introduction just prior to where the vocals come in.  It is often going from the 5th interval in the scale going up or down to the root–this is where it helps to know your intervals, and be able to sing them.  You may or may not be starting on the root tone, but the root will help you find your pitch in relation to it, as long as you know what the interval is from the root to your start note.



Hope these Tuesday cabaret tips help–let us know what other topics you’d like to see us cover here, and we’ll do our best to work through them!


Do you have any tips you like to use for finding your start note on a song?  As a singer, what would you add to this conversation?  Leave us a note about it in the comments below—we always love to hear from our readers!


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Till next time,

ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party is still going strong–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or cabaret website link from now through Thursday.  Link is below.


Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Mondays:  Cabaret Soiree Cabaret Blog Link Party

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Thursdays:  Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About Athena at McElrath Cabaret

Athena McElrath is an entertainer with a love for theatre and singing. She enjoys delving in the area of historical cabaret, researching the singers and clubs that were in business from before 1920 to the present, in New York and beyond.
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5 Responses to Cabaret Tip Tuesday At McElrath Cabaret: Finding Your Start Note–Join Us!

  1. Great suggestion! When you have a fab pianist who comps really well, sometimes it’s tough to hear that first note! And, it looks like your sidebar is working just fine, btw! Here on Safari and MacBook any way! ;-)
    Funny you should write about this! I was realizing I don’t know all my keys by heart! I’m so used to whatever pianist I work with knowing me…and I play a little piano! Yikes! I was asked to sit in the other night and thank goodness, I pulled a song and key out of my @#$ and it all worked out. I’m SO not good at the “sitting in” thing.
    I am making a list that I will have in my Evernote on my iPad and iPhone (they sync between each other) and that way I will always have it with me. You never know when someone might ask you to sing!
    The video is really fun, it actually made me tear up to see some of those greats!

    • Thank you for you kind words, Karen, and thank you for letting me know things look good on a Mac–I’m on PC, so this is very helpful! Your are absolutely right–it definitely pays to have a song list with keys when you sing at an open mic or a jam session. I have one too–I’ve done it for so long I forget about those things, but I will use this for a tip tuesday post! I agree–I got a little misty eyed as well watching the video. I love classic film and the artists who brought the scripts to life!

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