For many of my singing students, I am often the barer of bad news. For example, when they ask me how they can sing high notes with more power, they are hoping I’ll tell them to hold their jaws a certain way, or perform some other magic trick to exact the result they want.
Instead, my answer is, “Do vocal exercises. And more vocal exercises. And then more. And over time, those high notes will get stronger and stronger.”
See what I mean? Reality can feel like bad news. But really, reality is your friend. And so am I.
In the many decades of my life thus far, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that little to nothing of real substance happens as quickly as we want. Period.
But this is where the truly passionate singers separate themselves from the hobbyist singers. With real passion, time doesn’t matter. Sure, faster is nice. But true passion revels in progress. Both in the satisfying acts that we know will lead to progress, and in the fuel that the witnessing of such progress adds to our fires.
There is nothing wrong with being a hobbyist singer. If fact, that’s awesome. Do it! But this post is for those with a deeper draw to the process of becoming a great singer.
There are thousands upon thousands of great singers out there. Some are ahead of you on the road to mastery. Some are behind. Some have more connections, and some less. Some began with more advanced skills than you, some didn’t. It’s a mob of people that’s easy to get lost inside.
There are no official stats that I can quote to shed light on specific details about aspiring singers. What I can share with you is my experiences as a singer, a performer, a teacher, and as the member of various online singing groups.
Granted, following my advice is no guarantee of anything. Just as life takes its own time with our goals, it also can seem a bit random with our successes. But you want to stack the odds in your favor, right? So let me share with you my anecdotal take on what stops singers from standing out. I can boil it down to the following three things, but I encourage you to pay particular attention to #3.
Three Common Traits of Today’s Pack of Singers (and how you can separate yourself from them):
1. The pack skimps on the details of vocal training:
They are drawn to quick fixes and have the impression that there are some rules they need to learn so they can then be awesome singers forever.
If you want to stand out, start thinking of yourself as an athlete. That means you adjust your lifestyle (diet, sleep regimen, etc…) so that you’re taking good care of your voice, and you’re training it regularly. And that training lasts for as long as you want to be a singer. Need help with training? Check out my online courses.
2. The pack mimics other singers instead of finding what makes them unique.
I get it. All of us creatives have bouts of insecurity. And we often idolize great singers and wish we could be them. But…
If you want to stand out, stop trying to be like other people. You WANT to come across as unique and different. What you see as a vocal flaw might just be the thing that helps folks remember you. Don’t hide it. Turn it into your signature style. You’re a musician, not a follower. The goal should never be to become your favorite singer. It should be to become your favorite singer’s peer.
3. The pack doesn’t see themselves as musicians and therefore doesn’t educate themselves accordingly.
I can hardly convince many of these singers to do a vocal warmup. Forget about getting them to learn music theory. But you will always be limited as a singer if you don’t understand how music works. You will never feel equal to the musicians around you. And they may never see you as an equal, especially (sorry to say it) if you’re female.
If you want to stand out, become an educated musician (as in, learn music theory). This alone will set you lightyears apart from the pack. Here’s why:
- You’re pitch, harmonizing, ad libbing, and timing will all improve.
- You’re songwriting will become more interesting and memorable.
- You will be better able to communicate with musicians and be a part of arrangement decisions.
- You will be more confident because you understand what’s going on around you.
- You will be able to sell yourself as a serious, competent, and productive contributor to any musical project.
There are lots of ways you can learn music theory. Some of those ways can be found on my website www.OnlineWithJudyFine.com (just saying).
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you. But if you still see the music theory suggestion as more bad news coming from me, just take it in baby steps. I’ll help you…
Below are two videos to help you begin your quest to stand out as a singer. Just watch and learn. Easy peasy.
Thanks for reading, enjoy, and good luck! You can do this!
Video One: An introduction to the piano, and how you can use it to help improve your pitch.