LAURA SUZANNE WRIGHT, student of Tricia Grey
“Act without expectation.”
There are many ways to find streams of income in the music business while you are actively looking for the big break that will make you a star. Many of the singers you are familiar with such as Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Lopez, and Mariah Carey started out as backup singers for more famous artists. Jennifer Hudson sang on cruise ships.
Breaking into the session singer world means you might be doing backup work for more well-known artists who may choose to help your career along if they like you. Being professional and likable is the personality combination that will result in referrals to other jobs.
Here are some of the avenues that can provide income for you as a professional singer, and what you might need to do to prepare yourself for those gigs.
Party Bands: When I was doing this circuit in Los Angeles these gigs were called casuals. They are generally reasonably lucrative. Sometimes...
“At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
Now that your voice is in tip-top shape and you have formed good practice routines that will keep it that way, you are ready to start getting yourself out there and taking the steps that will lead to a career in music. The music business is not like most other businesses: there is no one-and-only way to make it in the music business. It’s not like going to medical or law school, where you can be confident that you will work in your field once you graduate.
Working your way up the ladder requires networking and a reputation of being professional and reliable, along with excellence at your craft. A lot of the paid jobs are word-of-mouth referral only, so every job you do can potentially be a bridge to more employment- if you make a good impression.
I spent over 25 years in Los Angeles as the lead singer and keyboard player in numerous bands of...
AUDITIONING FOR MUSICAL THEATRE DEGREE PROGRAMS
“If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself, you are illuminated".
Deciding to pursue a degree in musical theater means you are serious about making performing your job after graduation. These programs are highly selective; only a few spots are available, and there are over 5000 applicants for around 300 spots each year. The competition to be accepted is fierce (as it is in the real world of performing). The sooner you start preparing by taking weekly voice and dance lessons and preparing your audition material, the more you increase your chances of being accepted.
MOST of the students who audition for these programs will not be accepted, simply because they are not well-prepared. That preparation takes years of study, not just a few weeks before audition season. It involves making choices about how you spend your time, all through middle school and high school.
Good grades and ACT/ SAT...
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Many years ago, I got a call from one of my students. Knowing I have a propensity for collecting abandoned animals (especially beagles), she told me a small and frightened beagle had been found in her Atlanta neighborhood.
He was rail thin, had a broken tooth, worms, ticks, fleas, and rope burns around his neck. He was terrified of people and was only captured when befriended by her dog.
He was obviously fleeing a terrible life.
He had no tags, and no one had ever claimed him.
I took one look in his soulful brown eyes and knew I had to help even though I already had three dogs at the time. I was struck by the idea that he was doing the only thing he knew to do.
He was taking action to escape an obviously abusive situation. I was humbled by his courage in striking out into the unknown, even though he was terrified.
“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear, and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions, and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
Stage fright is an overpowering feeling of nervousness that hits you when you are either about to go onstage or when you are performing. It can show up as anything from butterflies in the stomach and a pounding heart to a full-scale anxiety attack and meltdown when simple nervousness is allowed to turn into anxiety.
The physical symptoms of anxiety include a racing heart, a dry mouth, a shaky voice, blushing, trembling, sweating, A feeling of lightheadedness, and nausea.
These occur because anxiety triggers the body to activate the sympathetic nervous system when adrenaline is released into the bloodstream....
“Stop thinking, and end your problems.”
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
These powerful words by Lao Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching hold, I believe, the key to all success and failure in life. Everything begins with the way in which we choose to think. By extension, our self-talk-the ways in which we think about and then talk to ourselves- can have a considerable impact on the success or failure of our careers and our lives.
Our self-talk or the ways in which we talk to and think about ourselves can have a huge impact on the success or failure of our careers and lives.
As we go about our daily lives, we are constantly interpreting each situation we find ourselves in and reacting to that situation either positively or negatively. Our inner commentator is called...
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
In the previous article, I discussed the need for physical repetition and focused, deliberate practice as a way of developing myelin to excel at a specific skill. This article will focus on the power of the brain and mental rehearsal to transform us from where we are currently to where we would like to be.
Quantum physics and brain neuroplasticity have become hot topics in recent years. The idea that you can change your brain and change your life through mental rehearsal and meditation is a powerful one.
Let’s see how that can work for you as a singer.
Brain neuroplasticity refers to physical changes in the neural pathways and synapses of the brain, which are due to changes in behavior, environment and thought processes. Mental rehearsal and meditation have been shown in studies to create physical changes in the brain.
We can focus our awareness and attention on anything we choose. What we don’t...
“Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time' is like saying, 'I don't want to'.”
Tao Te Ching
“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”
Tao Te Ching
Three books that you should own and read if you have a desire to make it in the music business are:
• Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
• The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
• Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
While there certainly is such a thing as an innate gift, it is by no means the only determining factor of success. Very often someone who is gifted but undisciplined or not hard working will be passed up by someone who may be less gifted but hard working. And where an innate gift is roughly the same the determining factor of success is what I call “time in the saddle”-how many hours per week of practice you do over time (not all at once).
Excellence in performing evolves over time...
These Strategies will absolutely improve your singing. Keep these ideas in place when singing your songs:
1. Neutral mouth position
Keep the mouth neutral and don’t spread the lips. Place the palm of the hand on the chin, with the thumb on one corner of the mouth and the index finger on the other corner to prevent spreading.
Never sing with a wide, spread mouth. Show two teeth in front (apple biting shape) but not ten teeth in front.
Allow the jaw to drop for higher pitches. A singer needs more vertical space to go higher in pitch. If pulling is still an issue, push the lips forward and sing the song through pursed, forward lips.
This will sound strange but will provide more release. Then, bit by bit, relax the forward lip position.
2. Vowel modification/substitution
Refer to the Vowel Modification Tracks chart below. Straining usually occurs in the notes approaching the first bridge, and in the first bridge. To counteract this, substitute a more closed vowel,...
Singing songs is the reason anyone takes vocal lessons.
Practicing technique exercises is the way we develop vocal skills; however, singers often get very good at the scales and exercises but fall apart when they sing songs.
It’s often quite a leap from technique to songs, even when the exercises are working well; when you start singing songs, you immediately go back to old habits due to long-entrenched muscle memory.
In this section we will provide tips and tools to bridge the gap from technique to singing songs.
We will address the issues that inevitably arise when transitioning from the controlled environment of specific vowels and consonants, designed to create success, to lyrics seemingly designed to make you fall out of the mix and balanced registration.
When working on a song, you might (at first) go right back to the bad vocal habits you have been working so hard to eliminate in Steps One through Seven.
Song choice has a lot to do with this; if you love to pull chest,...