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A young friend of mine asked me a year ago after our gig about how I learned to beatbox. I curtly replied that I’ve learned beatboxing by observation, tutorial, and practice. I gained mastery of beatboxing a couple of decades ago when there was no YouTube yet. So, I added, “You are fortunate nowadays because you got YouTube to learn the rudiments of beatboxing.”
Of course, every skill you would like to learn necessitates starting with the basics, then moving on to the intermediate skillsets, and transitioning to the more challenging or advanced skillsets. Similarly, you will begin with the most basic beats when learning to beatbox and with learning to imbibe a certain sense of rhythmic feeling. Then, you will raise your skillsets a notch higher by learning the more sophisticated patterns.
At the onset, of course, you need to understand the fundamental tones of beatboxing like the Kick drum (B), Hi-Hat (Ts), K Snare (K), Pf Snare (Pf), Inward Snare (Klch).
Simple Steps on How to Learn Beatbox for Beginner
Beatboxing is a vocal percussion art form that involves mimicking drum machines using your mouth, tongue, lips, and voice. It may also include mimicking the sounds of other musical instruments and the turntable. Here are the useful steps you must follow to learn to beatbox:
Step 1: Understand and Differentiate between the Basic Beatboxing Sounds
When beatboxing, you got plenty of sounds to learn and master. So, you need to begin with the foundational sounds like the kick drum (b), the classic snare drum (p), and the hi-hat (t) sounds. Then, it will help to learn the different beats. At the onset, it will be useful to start with the 8-beat rhythm. Begin with the b t pf t-b t pf t. Ensure that you combine the sounds well using the 8-beat rhythm and get the right timing. This is the beat boxing basics.
Slowly begin until you get the hang of it. Then, speed up a bit. You can write down the beats so that you can easily imbibe them subconsciously. When rehearsing, you can read the beat sequences to make it easy for you to follow the sequences. Master the five sounds of the beatboxing (kick drum, hi-hats, k snare, pf snare, and inward snare). With these five sounds, you can create a lot of possible beats.
Of course, at the start, the sounds will not be perfect or precise. You need to accustom your lips and mouth muscles to the demand of beatboxing until you get the right sounds. For this reason, you need to practice a lot.
There will be instances when your mouth muscles will exhibit pain, yet, it is perfectly normal, and it signifies that your oral muscles are adapting well to the rigors of beatboxing.
Step 2: Learn the Classic Kick Drum
There are various ways to practice the kick drum, yet the simplest way is to enunciate the letter “b.” You can engage in lip oscillation to make the b sound punchier and stronger. In this way, you can make the air through your lips vibrate. You can do it via short lip oscillation.
Make sure that you make the b sound like that of the real bass drum. Then, try to do it with closed lips to build up pressure. Gain perfect control of your lips and ensure that you do it curtly.
Of course, the kick drum will dictate the tempo of your beatboxing, so you need to ensure that you master it first before you master the other beatboxing sounds.
Step 3: Practice Hi-hat Sounds
In the basic drum kit, you will see that it has two cymbals. You can utilize the pedals to close and open the hi-hat using your left foot. The closed hi-hat cymbals come with a softer sound. Once you hit the closing hi-hat, it makes a refined sound. But when you hit the hi-hat when it’s half-closed, it produces a rougher sound.
However, when you hit the hi-hat when it is open, you make a loud sound. If you want to be a master of beatboxing, it will help if you learn the variety of sounds produced by the hi-hat cymbals. The hi-hat, of course, makes a fixed and consistent rhythm or pattern.
Step 4: Mimic the Hi-hat Sounds
Once you’ve known the different hi-hat sounds, you should try to duplicate them. To imitate the hi-hat sound, you can follow the following steps:
- Start with the raw “ts” sound.
- Don’t open your teeth as you make this sound, but instead closed them.
- Position your tongue forward right behind the front teeth to simulate the softer hi-hat sound.
- Then, make the simple “t” sound to recreate the heavy hat sound. To make the open hat sound, you can breathe out longer.
As you learn to duplicate the different hi-hat sounds, you can try successive hi-hats sound like that of tktktktk sound. You can use the middle back of your tongue to create the “k” sound. Try to make the open hat sound by making the “ts” sound as you breathe out.
Your ts will sound like the “tssss” to make it more realistic. You can also make it sound realistic by clenching your teeth while making the “ts” sound.
Step 5: Tackle the Snare Drum (p)
You can make the classic snare sound by uttering the “p” sound. To enhance the quiet p sound, you can oscillate your lips by making them vibrate as you push air out of it. You can also sound a ph as you breathe out to make the p sound louder.
You can further enhance the “p” sound by adding a fricative sound to it. You can do this by sounding p as pf, ps, psh. The addition of fricative may make it sound like the bass drum. Yet, since you are using your front lips, you make it sound better. You can also pull your lips in a bit to make it sound better. In doing so, you can build up air pressure.
You can then swing out your lips, and before they assume the normal position, you can say the “p” sound as you release the air. As you let go of the air and make the “p” sound, tighten your lower lip toward your bottom teeth to create an “fff” sound.
Step 6: Improve your sound techniques!
As you become proficient in beatboxing, you also improve your breathing. This ability to beatbox and hold one’s breath fascinates listeners. The secret behind this is breathing while making a sound, often referred to as inward sounds.
You can create some of the best beatboxing sounds through inward sounds. Moreover, you got several ways to make inward sounds. As you progress in beatboxing, you will learn to make every outward sound inward. Thus, it will be useful to practice more often.
Don’t Renege with Your Scheduled Practice
Nothing is achieved without sacrifice. Sacrifice means you need to invest time and effort into something if it is worth achieving. Similarly, if you want to become proficient in beatboxing, you need to invest time and effort to raise your skillsets a notch higher.
At the onset, of course, you will have a hard time mastering the art of beatboxing. But as you practice more often, you will get the hang of it and come out a master of beatboxing.
As you practice, you’ll get to harness your breathing well. You may find it hard to stagger your breathing at the onset, and you may end up having too little or too much air inside your lungs. Yet, as you progress through constant practice, you would begin to breathe as needed intuitively. You will get to regulate your breathing well as you develop proper breathing.
Through constant practice, you also begin to master the crash cymbal sound. It is easy to recreate. You just need to whisper, “chish.” Practice it more often as you clench your teeth while you leave out the vowel, transitioning from “ch” into “sh.” You will get the hang of it as you practice more often.
Moreover, you also get to know the correct ways of holding the microphone. Of course, the way you hold the mic also factors well in how you perform. It can also enhance the sound that you make. Soon after, you will learn the various manners of holding a microphone as a beginner beatboxer.
Experts beatboxers have their peculiar ways of holding their microphones. Some, for example, position the mic between their middle finger and the ring finger. Then, they grip it with their thumb and index finger.
While you beatbox, you should refrain from breathing into the microphone. Besides, to maximize the sound’s clarity and power, you should correct your manner of holding the mic.
The fact that not all people can beatbox indicate that not all people are meant for beatboxing. For this reason, only very few people have mastered the art of beatboxing. Of course, the intensity of desire to master this art may not be enough, for inspiration and passion often wavers.
Yet, if you know how to manage your time and allot enough time for practice, you will soon find yourself improving your beatboxing skills as a beginner. The tips mentioned above are for beginners. As you continuously push yourself to become better, you will eventually end up a master of beatboxing.