Being a Singer

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Introduction

As singers, we are always trying to get the best from our voices. There are many excellent books about singing – some offering guidance on technique, with vocal exercises aimed at singers, others offering more in depth information about the vocal mechanism, aimed more at voice teachers and specialists. This book is for the singer, and offers both these things, and much more too - in clear, relevant uncomplicated language. It aims to cover all aspects of what it means to actually ‘be a singer’ – which is so much more than just voice. Aside from the crucial work of vocal technique, it’s imperative that singers learn how to listen with a very detailed critical ear.

A singer needs to develop their musicality. Great singing involves understanding what goes on inside you emotionally – as well as mentally and physically. Understanding a little bit about how the sound we make is produced can be very beneficial. Really getting to grips with the words of a song and how a song is structured can be completing transforming. And knowing how to create singing opportunities for yourself in a competitive market can ultimately make the difference between you fulfilling your dreams or not! Ultimately, what are we looking to achieve? A singer must build confidence and resilience. A singer must nurture their own individual sound, be true to themselves and know how to communicate – follow their own sense of artistry. How do we do this? Having worked with thousands of singers, as vocal instructors, and having interviewed many top singers and performers, we have been able to establish and consolidate some of the core ways of thinking that help achieve these, and other important singing issues. We see that success in singing is about having a certain attitude of mind – let’s call it a singers ‘mindset’.

Step by step, this book takes a layered approach to the skills and understanding needed – each chapter building on the last. Technical/practical voice work begins with core skills, then builds up to advanced level work. Like a jigsaw puzzle, we look at the separate co-ordinations of the voice, and then go on to see how they work together as a whole. There is advice about ‘how’ to listen, and exercises to understand what listening really is. There are questions to help you evaluate yourself as a singer – designed to help you work out what you need – and how to get what you need. Plus questions to illuminate some of the things that may be holding you back. Among other things, we explore what constitutes ‘a good voice’, what makes a great performance and why is singing so important to us.

At its best, the singing voice could be described as a powerful and seamless series of notes, that has a distinctly unique and rich quality, and that communicate feelings to the listener. Most importantly, a great voice has a sense of ‘truth’ to it. It is relaxed and free, yet alive and vibrant. This is what we want you to achieve. We assume you are either a singer wanting to become professional, a serious amateur – or perhaps already professional - looking to fill in some of the gaps. To really make steps forward, it’s necessary to engage with what’s on these pages in a serious way.

Treat this book as a workbook or manual – use it alongside a journal – keep notes, record yourself, chart your progress and understanding. Focus on chapters one at a time in detail. Above all, always keep a fresh inquiring beginners mind! As voice teachers, it is our good fortune to participate in people’s daily journey to discover more about their voices… a constantly unfolding journey which progresses every time each of us sing. Teachers and students learn from each other – understanding voice is a reciprocal process – and one which has given us valuable insights and practical advice that we want to share with anyone who is passionate about singing!