How to Sing with Vocal Runs: Mastering Ornamentation and Agility

How to Sing with Vocal Runs: Mastering Ornamentation and Agility

Are you tired of singing the same old melodies? Do you want to add some flair to your vocal performances? Vocal runs, also known as vocal ornamentation, can add a whole new dimension to your singing.

What are vocal runs?

Vocal runs are a series of quick, melodic notes that are sung in succession. They are often used as a form of ornamentation to add interest and excitement to a song. Vocal runs can be found in many genres of music, including pop, R&B, gospel, and jazz.

Mastering vocal runs requires a combination of agility, control, and precision. It takes practice to develop the muscle memory and vocal technique necessary to execute runs with ease and accuracy.

Why are vocal runs important?

Vocal runs can transform an ordinary melody into a spectacular performance. They can add emotion, intensity, and personality to a song, making it more memorable and captivating for the audience. Vocal runs can also demonstrate the singer’s skill and proficiency, showcasing their range and control.

Learning how to sing with vocal runs is a valuable skill for any aspiring singer. With practice and dedication, you can master the art of vocal ornamentation and take your singing to the next level.

vocal runs practice

Mastering Ornamentation

Ornamentation refers to the embellishments, flourishes, and decorative elements that singers add to their vocal performances. Ornamentation can help add interest, excitement, and variety to a singer’s performance. Mastering ornamentation is an essential skill for any singer looking to improve their vocal runs and agility.

Understanding Ornamentation

Before diving into the different types of ornamentation, it’s essential to understand what ornamentation is and how it works. Ornamentation is the process of adding extra notes, slides, or other vocal flourishes to a melody. Ornamentation can be used to emphasize certain notes, add excitement to a performance, or simply add variety to a song.

Types of Ornamentation

There are many different types of ornamentation that singers can use to add variety and interest to their performances. Some of the most common types of ornamentation include:

  • Slides: Slides involve smoothly transitioning from one note to another, either up or down the scale.
  • Grace notes: Grace notes are quick, short notes that are played before or after a main note.
  • Melisma: Melisma involves singing multiple notes on a single syllable.
  • Trills: Trills are rapid alternations between two notes that are close together.
  • Turns: Turns involve quickly alternating between three or more notes in a pattern.

Practicing Ornamentation

Practicing ornamentation is an essential part of mastering vocal runs and agility. Here are some tips for practicing ornamentation:

  1. Start slow: When first learning an ornamentation technique, start by practicing it slowly and gradually increase the speed as you become more comfortable.
  2. Use a metronome: Using a metronome can help you stay on beat and improve your timing when practicing ornamentation.
  3. Practice in different keys: Practicing ornamentation in different keys can help you become more comfortable with different scales and intervals.
  4. Listen to recordings: Listening to recordings of skilled singers using ornamentation can help you learn new techniques and improve your own skills.

Mastering ornamentation is an essential skill for any singer looking to improve their vocal runs and agility. By understanding the different types of ornamentation and practicing regularly, singers can add interest, excitement, and variety to their performances.

singer breathing exercises

Developing Agility

Agility is a crucial aspect of vocal runs, and it involves the ability to sing fast and accurately. Developing agility in your voice allows you to execute complex runs and ornamentations with ease. It also helps you to sing with precision and clarity, even at high speeds.

Importance of Agility

Agility is a fundamental skill that every singer should strive to develop. It allows you to perform vocal runs that add depth and interest to your singing. Agility also enables you to sing challenging songs with ease and confidence, making your performance more captivating and engaging.

Developing agility requires consistent practice and dedication. With the right exercises and techniques, you can improve your agility and take your singing to the next level.

Exercises to Improve Agility

There are several exercises you can do to improve your agility. These exercises focus on strengthening your vocal cords and developing control over your voice. Here are some exercises to get you started:

  • Tongue Twisters: Practice saying tongue twisters at a fast pace to improve your ability to articulate quickly and accurately.
  • Scale Runs: Singing scales up and down at a fast pace helps to develop your vocal agility and control.
  • Staccato Notes: Singing staccato notes in quick succession helps to improve your ability to sing fast and accurately.
  • Interval Jumps: Practice jumping between different intervals quickly to improve your ability to sing complex runs.

Remember to start slowly and gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable with each exercise. Consistency is key, so make sure to practice these exercises regularly to see improvement in your agility.

Breathing Techniques for Agility

In addition to vocal exercises, breathing techniques are also important in developing agility. Proper breathing allows you to sustain long runs and maintain control over your voice. Here are some breathing techniques to help improve your agility:

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing: This technique involves breathing from your diaphragm instead of your chest, allowing you to take deeper breaths and sustain longer runs.
  • Controlled Breathing: Practicing controlled breathing helps you to maintain control over your voice and execute runs with greater accuracy.
  • Breath Support: Using your breath to support your voice helps to improve your agility and sustain long runs.

Remember to focus on your breathing while practicing your vocal exercises. Take deep breaths and exhale slowly to improve your breath control and sustain your runs for longer periods of time.


Developing agility is essential for mastering vocal runs and ornamentations. By practicing vocal exercises and using proper breathing techniques, you can improve your agility and take your singing to new heights. Remember to be patient and consistent in your practice, and you’ll see improvement in no time.

singer performing

Putting it All Together

Now that you’ve learned the basics of singing with vocal runs, it’s time to put it all together and start mastering ornamentation and agility. Here are some final tips to help you achieve your goals:

Choose the Right Song

When it comes to singing with vocal runs, choosing the right song is key. Look for songs that have plenty of room for ornamentation and agility, and that fit within your vocal range. Practice singing along with the original recording to get a feel for the timing and phrasing.

Add Your Own Style

Once you’ve mastered the basic technique of vocal runs, it’s time to start adding your own style. Experiment with different types of runs and ornaments, and try incorporating different vocal textures and dynamics. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make the song your own.

Perform with Confidence

Finally, when it’s time to perform, remember to sing with confidence. Make eye contact with your audience, engage with the lyrics, and let your personality shine through. Remember, the key to a great performance is not just technical skill, but also emotional connection.

Do: Don’t:
  • Practice regularly
  • Choose the right song
  • Add your own style
  • Perform with confidence
  • Overdo it with runs
  • Forget to breathe
  • Be too rigid with the melody
  • Forget to connect emotionally with the song

By following these tips and practicing regularly, you’ll soon be able to sing with vocal runs like a pro. Remember, it takes time and dedication to master any new skill, but with patience and perseverance, you can achieve your goals and become the singer you’ve always dreamed of being.

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