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Improve your singing dramatically by pronouncing one letter properly

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.


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  2. bulshitts!I hear a lot of singers to pronounce R and they sound great.

    • You are right. This article is about how to pronounce R, not how not to pronounce R, and it’s geared towards English speakers.

      • Thanks so much Olga! I get questions about enunciation all the time. I’m planning to write a short report on the subject so I went looking to see if I could find anything else I didn’t already know. Sure enough your article was the first one I came across and I really love the information I learned here.

        I noted though that you didn’t include lyric examples for the 2nd and 3rd secrets like you did the first one. The first example really helped me see what you were explaining.

        Thanks again! By the way I’m always looking for guest posters on my own blog, if you’re ever interested. My readers love practical “how to” advice like this.

        Take care,

    • Welcome, Niels!The letter y (and w, for that maettr) is a tricky one in the English language. Sometimes it acts as a consonant, and sometimes it acts as a vowel. In the case of yellow, for example, the y is acting as a consonant, whereas in snowy it is acting as a vowel.In comment #2 above, I was referring specifically to the consonant y sound, because the sound is the determining factor for choosing the indefinite article to precede it ( a or an ).I hope that makes sense. Let me know if you would like me to clarify any further.

  3. How would you suggest pronouncing the word “strength” when singing?

  4. Or how to pronounce “world” when singing……..or the even peskier “fire”.. Great article!

  5. So many new young singer sing the word “HEART” like “Hawwwwwwhhhhhut” and it sounds terrible. When did this become standard? You can de-stress the “R” before a consonant through much better ways without getting rid of them completely. The point is somewhere in between what you’re stating and adding just the right amount of “R” without eliminating it completely.
    And yes, I can sing “world” and “fire” with just enough “r” to not sound like I’m saying FIYAH. Am I an expert? No. Am I a professional? Yes. I also have a degree in vocal performance. Maybe I’m just old school?

    Following the above rules just makes you sound like a Bostonian. “Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd”
    I live in Massachusetts.