There are 26 letters in the English alphabet but there’s one whose proper pronunciation when singing will improve your sound guaranteed. No matter whether you have a southern accent, northern accent, valley accent, Australian accent, British accent, or anything in between, knowing how to sing your R’s is the best way to start tackling the challenges of singing in English.
But how many R’s are there? Rejoice for there are only 3 R’s, and I’m now going to tell you which ones they are and the secrets of their pronunciation.
- R’s before consonant sounds
- R’s before pauses
- R’s before vowel sounds
How to Pronounce R’s before Consonants
Let me start with a note. For our pronunciation purposes, consonants and consonant sounds are one and the same. By consonant sound, I mean any sound that’s not a vowel sound (ah, oh, oo, eh, ee), even if the letter that creates it is a vowel.
The best example to illustrate this would be the word “you.” Although “you” starts with the vowel “y,” the sound it produces is actually classified as a consonant.
Other examples of words that use “y” as consonant are: yes, utopia, eulogy, union.
Secret No 1: Never ever pronounce R’s before consonant sounds
I know that not pronouncing a letter at all might initially seem like a strange thing to do. Or not do. But try singing the following sentences by pronouncing R’s as you would normally do:
- How charming you are my darling
- Summer days are far gone
- Who are you
I’m sure you’ve already discovered that trying to sing R’s not only makes it hard to continue with the next word, but it brings up a nasality that’s far from charming. Now try this: instead of R, turn the preceding vowel sound into a double vowel sound, e.g. instead of charming sing chahming.
- How chahming you ah my dahling
- Summeh days ah fah gone
- Who ah you
Much better! If you pay attention you’ll see that you can even hear an R in there even if you’re not really pronouncing it. This little trick takes advantage of the brains capability to fill in blanks using its previous experience. So basically, your and your audiences brains know that there’s an R in these words and so they think that they actually hear it.
At the same time, not pronouncing R make it easier for you to sing the lyrics and makes your sound more elegant and professional.
Now that you know this secret, it’s going to be so much easier to learn the other two. Continue reading and in the next 2 minutes you’ll know everything you need to know about improving your singing.
How to Pronounce R’s before Pauses
Remember what you just learnt about not pronouncing R’s before consonant sounds? Amazingly this, also, holds for R’s before pauses.
Secret No 2: Never pronounce R’s before pauses (1 exception)
There’s one exception to this rule, but it only holds if you can flip your R. If you can indeed flip your R, then you might enjoy it more to actually pronounce a final R followed by a pause if the word containing the R is on your highest notes. If you can’t flip your R, read my guide to flipping your R, guaranteed.
How to Pronounce R’s before Vowel Sounds
Having an R before a vowel sound is the only occasion when you want to actually pronounce the R. Remember that this holds for vowels and vowel sounds alike.
Secret No 3: Always pronounce R’s before vowel sounds
And there you have it! Three simple rules for improving your singing pronunciation by actually pronouncing R’s only before vowel sounds.