Occasionally I write a song that's hard for me to sing. I don't mean emotionally. I mean technically. Maybe part of it is out of my range, or there's a note I have to sustain for a long time without breathing.
"You're the writer," I hear you cry. "Why would you make it difficult for yourself?" Well, mostly I don't. If I can, I tailor my songs to my strengths. But every once in a while it just doesn't sound as good the easy way. So I write it the way I think it should sound, and then practice the hell out of it.
Hold Me in Your Arms is a good example. It's a love song, and it begins with me humming over a minimal piano accompaniment. The notes would be in my range if I were na-na-ing them, but they're uncomfortably low when hummed. To do the passage without cracking or sounding weak, I have to hold my face in a way that doesn't obstruct the airflow.
Practicing this has helped a lot, but I still haven't been able to count on hitting the notes consistently.
Yesterday at rehearsal, I sang the song for the first time in a while. And just before we started, a thought popped into my head. What if I just hummed louder?
Yep. That did it. I'd been humming softly for a more sultry effect, but going louder didn't change the feel. All I had to do was back off the mic a little.
Practice is good. But sometimes it helps to come to a sticky spot fresh.