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Tips for Singers - What to Pack in Your Gig Bag

Singers, Don’t Forget These 9 Items In Your Gig Bag!

Performing in front of a live audience is an amazing feeling! But to ensure a smooth, no-stress gig, preparation is key. If you’re looking for tips for your first gig — or just need a refresher — check out this advice from Saint Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L...

 

For the performing singer, there’s nothing quite like having practiced your butt off for three weeks, spraying your throat every five minutes with that throat spray for singers, and running through your customized voice exercises, only to realize as you walk through those venue doors that you forgot your microphone at home.

As the lead singer of two Saint Augustine, Florida bands, I know that I’m part of a team. But I also know that I need to be responsible for my own stuff, and what exactly we need as performing singers, whether you’re a solo act or in a group, can get pretty specific. Whether it’s your first gig or you’re an experienced performer, you need to be prepared. Here’s my list of what every singer needs to pack in his or her gig bag.

What to Pack In Your Gig Bag

Throat Coat Tea and Honey (single-serve packets)
You might be skeptical of special teas and potions for the voice, like I once was. But trust me, after singing in a dry room for two hours, you’ll be thankful for the lubrication!

Great Microphone
My microphone is a Shure product. It’s not expensive and sounds great. What’s important is having your own, especially if you ever put your mouth on it. Germs, anyone?

Wind Screen
This is super important for protecting the investment that is your microphone. Strong wind, a drop on the floor, or even blowing air into it can cause damage. Your wind screen can prevent this.

Your Phone
OK, so you might not need to pack this in the gig bag, but be sure to take it. If you’re running late, you’ll want to let the venue know.

Mic Stand
Even if you’re the kind of performer who runs all over the stage with a cordless mic, you’ll need to keep that mic in a safe spot between sets. There might even be a song you’ll want to try with the mic in its stand!

Water
Even though I personally recommend drinking tea with a thicker consistency than water during performances, water will hydrate the body before and after you sing.

Potato Chips
I was skeptical about this one for a long time. But a music producer recommended them, and now, I always pack them in my gig bag. The salt reduces mucus, the oil lubricates, and the crunch helps relieve stress.

Your Merch
If you have any merchandise for your act, like T-shirts, CDs, cards for free downloads of one of your songs, or even just business cards, you’ll want to pack them in your gig bag. You never know who you’ll meet at a show, or what fans will ask for!

Extension Cord
Recently, my band had to make a really stressful and last-minute run to the local hardware store 20 minutes before show time, because our cords weren’t long enough for the new venue. Be prepared with a 50-foot extension cord. Oh, and make it an outdoor one, in case it rains!

Not There Yet? Here’s How to Get Gigs

Word of mouth is said to be the best way to get gigs for bands and musicians. But since the Internet is where so much is communicated nowadays, word of mouth means having a great social media presence. Make sure that you have a fresh, updated Facebook page with videos, reviews (even from teachers and fellow musicians), audio, and lots of photos of rehearsals and formal band photos, too. Make sure that you have a YouTube channel, so that potential clients and fans can watch you perform. Even if you only post great band practices, people can still get a feel for your sound! You can also make your own website for free at Wix.com, where you can post past and future gigs. (Here’s a great post from Wix about setting up your music website.)

Next, search your local paper or Google local open mics – these are a great way to get exposure and meet other musicians! You can also build a profile for free at websites like GigMasters and GigSalad. They’ll send leads for gigs right to your email and charge a small fee. Here’s a great round-up of those and other websites for finding gigs.

Tips for Your First Gig

Gearing up for your first gig? Congrats!

  • First, get as many details as possible from your gig contact, who’s probably the person who scheduled or hired you. Make sure that you know exactly what you’ll need to bring, what the venue already has and is willing to share, how early you’re allowed to set up your gear, how long you’re expected to perform, and a number for your contact at the venue on the day of the event, just in case you get caught in traffic or tied up, and you need to call ahead.
  • Second, if it’s possible, go to the venue yourself to check it out. How much room is there? (This’ll also help you feel more comfortable when you actually perform in the space.)
  • Third, rehearse as much as your schedule allows, and try to practice in the same physical set-up that you’ll be in the venue. Here’s a handy checklist for preparing for a gig.
  • Fourth, relax, but not by telling yourself not to be nervous… instead tell yourself that the nervousness is only excitement. It really is all about perspective and attitude.

All this considered, the most important thing to bring to a performance should be so big, that you couldn’t fit it into any gig bag. That thing is your amazing self-confidence. Remember that excitement you were feeling earlier? One of the best tips for your first gig is to use that excitement as extra energy. Because, let’s face it, you could drink all of the finest teas in the world and own the best microphones, but if you don’t believe that you belong up there, singing, you’re toast.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

 

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Checklist for Auditions-Performance

How to Prepare For Your First Singing Performance [Checklist]

Are you gearing up for your very first time singing on stage or in front of an audience? Learn how to get ready for an audition or vocal performance — and overcome stage fright before it hits you — with this handy checklist from online voice teacher Tyler J...

 

Performing can be a beautiful experience, but if it’s your first time in front of an audience, the thought of it can be nerve-wracking. Stage fright is common for beginners (and believe it or not, sometimes even for professionals who have done tons of gigs), but these fears can be overcome with simple preparation. By following this timeline, you can learn how to prepare for a singing performance, conquer any anxieties, and hit the stage with confidence.

Checklist for Singers First PerformanceIf you follow these steps, you’ll find that the stage isn’t quite so scary after all. If you still feel a little anxious right before, that’s okay – use that adrenaline to add energy to your performance. Throughout the weeks leading up to the performance, make sure to use a checklist like this with your private instructor. He or she can help coach you and provide plenty of encouragement as you prepare for your singing performance or audition. Remember, you’ve worked hard and are well prepared — now get out there and show the audience what you’re made of!

Tyler J

 Tyler J. teaches multiple styles of singing and guitar via online lessons. He recently earned a Master of Music in Commercial Music from California State University Los Angeles and can also help students with composition, music recording, and audio engineering. Learn more about Tyler here!

 

 

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popular cover songs

Singers, Here’s How to Make Cover Songs REALLY Stand Out

How To Improve Your Cover SongsSinging popular cover songs can be a blast — it’s a great way to rev up your crowd, and gives you the opportunity to show off your skills and make the song your own! Here, online voice teacher Emmanuel M. shares his tips to keep in mind…

 

For those of us who love to sing, there are some songs that we just fall in love with and can’t stop singing. Sometimes, this passion inspires us to record popular cover songs and upload them online for others to adore. However, sometimes there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other covers of that same song. So what can you do to make yours stand out?

Most popular cover songs can be categorized into one of two methods: singing the song like the original singer (the most common method) or creating a more personal rendition of the song. Whichever you choose is up to you, but here are some tips to help you decide which one is best for you:

  • For the first method, your voice must stand out. Because your cover song will sound like the many others that follow this method, uniqueness and originality will fall mostly on your voice (i.e. does your voice stand out?). Chances are you don’t sound like the singer, but what matters is whether or not your voice sounds good.
  • For the second method, the style and the way you sing the song must stand out, as well as your voice. Singers using this method create their own melodies, runs, and riffs; they add layers, harmonies, background vocals, and high notes. The key here is to make the song your own – to give it your own twist.

To make your choice easier, just think: Does your voice stand out (e.g. great vocals, tonality, or timbre), or does your musicality stand out (e.g. original melodies, harmonies, runs, and riffs)?

Singing Cover Songs Using the First Method

If you decide to sing your cover song like the original singer, the bonus is that this method is relatively easy, since you just follow along with what the singer is doing. However, if you copy another artist, your voice must stand out in order to make it an original cover. If your voice sounds like most other people’s, then this might not be the best choice for you, as there is a ton of competition among singers using this method. My advice is this: Know your voice and be honest. Does your voice truly stand out in this song? By that I mean, do people get the chills when you sing this song? Each of our voices is “made” for certain songs, and while sometimes your voice may be perfect for one song, it may not work well with another.

Singing Cover Songs Using the Second Method

If you decide to sing your cover song using your own flare, then you have the opportunity to make it really stand out. Singers with musicality, this is your forte! It’s time to own that song and give it your own spin. Make a unique rendition that pays homage to the singer, but also showcases your talent. Use your skills to your advantage. If singing low notes is your strength, then sing the song in a lower key or add lower harmonies. If belting is your strength, then add extra belts or sustain some notes in the background. Basically, do what you do best! This truly is your time to shine and to blow people away. Singers who use this method can also find different instrumental or acoustic versions of the original song. Although this is much harder to do (because most songs don’t have these instrumentals online), if you can find one, then this can be a huge advantage for you.

Additional Tips For All Cover Singers

  • Play the music with your own instrument of choice (guitar, piano, etc.).
  • Sing an a cappella version of the song using your own voice as the various “instruments.”
  • Add harmonies, background vocals, and anything else you can do with your voice.
  • Record yourself with a good camera. Videos of popular cover songs that show the singer singing get more attention than videos with just the song and a picture.

Ready to improve your singing skills? Working with a qualified vocal coach can give you the boost you need. Find a singing teacher in your area! 

Emmanuel Noriega

Emmanuel M. teaches singing and songwriting exclusively online. A California State University, Fullerton graduate and native Spanish speaker, he also teaches essay writing, study skills, and Spanish. Learn more about Emmanuel here!

 

 

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Pre-performance checklist flowchart

Checklist for Singers: How to Prepare for an Upcoming Gig

Are you a singer gearing up for an important gig? If you’re feeling nervous about singing, don’t sweat. Here, online voice teacher Tyler J. share his timeline for success…

 

The gig is booked, you’ve invited your friends, and you realize on the night of the show that you haven’t even rehearsed yet. Your heart rate speeds up, your stomach turns, and you break out in a cold sweat. “I’ve barely rehearsed, I’m totally going to screw this up” repeats over and over in your mind as you pace back and forth counting down the hours until downbeat. Have you ever been in this situation? Of course you’re going to feel nervous about singing in this scenario.

It’s something that many performing musicians have experienced, but it fortunately can be remedied well in advance. Following the checklist below is a great way to know you’re well prepared, and will help you confidently take the stage when the time comes.

Checklist for Singers

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While at first this may seem like a lot of work, when you space it out over a few weeks it’ll seem much easier. I highly suggest working through this checklist with your vocal coach (and if you don’t have one, look no further than right here on TakeLessons.com!). These are just some of the tips for singers that will help you become an amazing performer. Your teacher can also provide honest criticism of your performance, help you memorize lyrics, and help to keep your voice feeling strong and comfortable. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to step on stage with confidence and deliver an excellent performance.

Need help finding a vocal coach near you? Start your search here!

Tyler J

 Tyler J. teaches multiple styles of singing and guitar via online lessons. He recently earned a Master of Music in Commercial Music from California State University Los Angeles and can also help students with composition, music recording, and audio engineering. Learn more about Tyler here!

 

 

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Turning Rejection Into Success: 5 Stories To Encourage You to Keep Singing

5 Famous Singers Who Failed Big Before They Made It

Dreaming about making it big as a singer? Developing a thick skin and learning how to persevere is key — the road ahead isn’t always easy! Even the most successful singers today had to start somewhere. In this guest post by Corona, CA teacher Milton J.learn how to become a famous singer by drawing inspiration from these success stories…

 

As a budding musician and singer myself, you and I have something in common – we both love to share our vocal gifts with those willing to listen. However, how do we feel when some people are just not willing to listen? How do we keep our confidence up and turn our audience into fans? We can draw our inspiration from some of the music industry’s most successful artists who, just like us, had similar setbacks on their road to stardom. Despite the setbacks, though, they all persevered to become the famous singers they are today!

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, was a child piano prodigy and began performing in New York jazz and supper clubs as a teenager. Initially signed by L.A. Reid for Def Jam, her subsequent demos from her debut album did not impress her new boss, who labeled her new music “disgusting.” Gaga spoke on this event, stating, “They would say, ‘This is too racy, too dance-oriented, too underground. It’s not marketable.’ And I would say, ‘My name is Lady Gaga, I’ve been on the music scene for years, and I’m telling you, this is what’s next.’ And look…I was right.” Lady Gaga clearly knew how to become a pop star, and after her prompt dismissal from the label, she lined up with Akon’s Konvict Music and had the freedom to write and perform to her heart’s content.

Madonna

Madonna

It seems as though Gaga is the apparent heir to Madonna’s pop trailblazing career, so it’s no coincidence that Madonna dealt with the same adversity decades earlier. After graduating from high school in Michigan, Madonna received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. After convincing her father to allow her to take ballet lessons, she was persuaded by her ballet teacher to pursue a career in dance, dropped out of college in 1978, and relocated to New York City. She worked as a Dunkin’ Donuts waitress and danced with modern dance troupes, continuing to perfect her craft while trying to make ends meet. “It was the first time I’d ever taken a plane, the first time I’d ever gotten a taxi cab,” she once said of her move to New York. “I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done.”

After collaborating with bands The Breakfast Club and Emmy, she eventually decided to market herself as a solo act and recorded demos to send to record labels in New York City. Madonna was famously rejected by Millennium Records President Jeremy Ienner, known for productions of such hits as “Dirty Dancing” and “Sister Act.” He stated that while he enjoyed some of her music, she was “not ready yet” and he would “pass for now.” This rejection motivated Madonna to continue making music with club DJ Mark Kamins, who at the time was working with Seymour Stein of Sire Records. Kamins gave Stein a demo of Madonna’s work while Stein was in the hospital, and he insisted Madonna come to the hospital immediately so he could sign her to his label.

In an interview, Stein remembered what it was like to meet Madonna: “I always believed in her, because not only did she have talent, but she had a burning desire, drive, ambition, and a work ethic that is incredible. So, she had everything and I saw that in my hospital room.”

And a whole list of others…

Some of our best recent vocalists and bands come from the reality singing competition reject lines. “American Idol,” “X Factor,” and “The Voice” may rule the ratings on television, but they do not necessarily dictate talent and success.

Hillary Scott, of Lady Antebellum fame, did not make it to the judges’ round to see Randy, Paula, and Simon. Colbie Caillat met the same fate while singing her future lead single “Bubbly” for the judges. Later, she would state, “I was shy. I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it yet. I was glad, when I auditioned, that they said no.” Inevitably, she found success by channeling that rejection into a chance to get better and come into her own as an artist.

Jordin Sparks, winner of “American Idol’s” sixth season, was actually rejected in her first audition and won a radio station contest to re-audition in a different city. Additionally, just last year, she was dropped from her label RCA due to delays from the executive team and recently signed to Salaam Remi’s new label Louder Than Life, with her album coming in May 2015.

Even show winners have faced setbacks. “The Sing-Off” winners and reigning a cappella music leaders Pentatonix was dropped after Sony’s Epic Records folded and only came back to Sony – this time with Madison Gate, owned by Sony – after their covers began to go viral on YouTube. After their debut album, they would leave Madison Gate for RCA due to their desire to release more original music than merely covers.

 

This industry is indeed for the strong-willed and the bounce-back types, and these artists figured that out long before they were famous. What’s more, however, is learning from the sure-fire rejection that is bound to come. Not everyone will like your singing and your performance, but if you push forward and continue to work on getting better at singing every single day, you can turn your love for singing into a career. It is true our worst critics can be ourselves, but the right vocal teacher can help bring the absolute best out of you! With the right attitude, your potential is endless!

Readers, what other advice have you received about how to become a famous singer? Leave a comment below and share!

MiltonJMilton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

 

 

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audition songs for altos

8 Dazzling Audition Songs for Alto Voices

Do you have an audition coming up? Selecting the right song to show off your abilities is key. Here, Hayward, CA teacher Molly R. shares her top picks for audition songs for altos…

 

Altos are just fabulous! Your easy low notes and rich tone make so many great types of music suitable to you: jazz, pop, classical, and so on. So, what do you pick as an audition piece to best show off that special voice type of yours? Here are a few suggestions in various genres that may suit you!

Old Standards:

“Stormy Weather” — here’s a classic torch song with lots of emotion and a truly gorgeous vocal line, making it the perfect audition song for an alto interested in jazz. It was written by Harold Arlen, who composed the music for “Wizard of Oz”. There are many fantastic renditions out there, but Lena Horne’s is one of the best:

“River of No Return”  – this is a song from the Marilyn Monroe movie of the same name. This is a lovely song that is rarely performed because it sits very, VERY low — perfect for true alto voices!

Pop/Rock:

“Constant Craving” — who doesn’t love this song? It’s an interesting hybrid of jazz and pop. k.d. lang’s flawless performance definitely inspires. This song can go anywhere — an audition for a band, a cabaret show… you name it!

“I Feel the Earth Move” from Carole King’s album “Tapestry” was made for pop/rock altos. All of her songs on this album are excellent, but this is one of the uptempo songs for some contrast. Not only is this a great audition song for bands, talent shows, and open mics, but it also works for musical theatre, since there is now a Broadway show (“Beautiful”) that features all Carole King songs!

Musical Theatre:

“If He Really Knew Me” — this is a very moving ballad from “They’re Playing Our Song” by Marvin Hamlisch. It’s perfect for musical theatre altos who consider themselves more pop-ish, rather than brassy belters. The other plus to this song is that audition panels usually love hearing it, since it’s far from overdone!

“I’ve Got The Sun in the Morning” — this older show tune from Irving Berlin’s beloved “Annie Get Your Gun” is uptempo and just plain fun! A wide variety of lower-voiced ladies have performed this (including Doris Day and Reba McEntire!), but here is the original performer, the great belter Ethel Merman:

Classical:

“Stride la vampa” — this is only for mature altos who have studied and performed for many years! Verdi is definitely meant for the professionals. This very dramatic operatic aria from “Il Trovatore” will show off your trill, your low chest notes, and your acting chops as well. Here is the great Marilyn Horne, who happens to have ALL of that and then some!

“Oh Thou That Tellest” from Handel’s “Messiah” — you simply can’t go wrong with this. If you’re a classical singer, you know that being prepared with “Messiah” can be lucrative, especially if you do lots of concert work. This aria is appropriate for auditions for church gigs, vocal competitions, and music programs everywhere.

Of course, the best resource for repertoire is your voice teacher! He or she really knows your voice and abilities, and can work with you in finding the perfect audition songs for altos to best show you off, musically, vocally, and dramatically. Part of the fun of being a singer is discovering the repertoire that speaks to you, and there are many qualified voice teachers out there who would love to help you with that — especially you wonderful, rare altos!

mollyrMolly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

 

 

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how to sing tenor

6 Showstopping Audition Songs Perfect for Tenors

Have an audition coming up? For tenors, selecting the right repertoire and learning how to sing tenor parts that really showcase your vocal type is key. Here, Hayward, CA teacher Molly R. offers her suggestions…

 

So, you call yourself a tenor! That’s a wonderful voice type to have — there are not as many of you higher-voiced males! Finding vocal repertoire in a baritone-heavy world is not always easy, but what IS written for tenors is just marvelous and bound to impress if you’ve got the technique! Here are a few audition songs for tenor voices in a variety of styles.

“Yesterday” is my first recommendation. Yes, it is a fact: The Guinness World Records says it’s the most covered song in the world, but only true tenors can sing it in the original key as composed by Sir Paul McCartney (who happens to be an excellent example of a tenor). In fact, any Beatles song would be a great choice if you’re auditioning for a pop contest or auditioning for a band. Lots of baritones would love to be able to sing these songs in the original keys. Lucky you: you CAN!

Want to keep it more current? Look at some Ed Sheeran songs! “Thinking Out Loud” is a wonderful moderate-tempo song that can work for a variety of auditions, shows, or events.

For musical theatre, there are plenty of excellent choices and it can be very hard to narrow it down! “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story” would show off your musicality, range, AND your acting chops:

For more current musical theatre, have a look at “Passeggiata” from “The Light in the Piazza”. It’s a graceful number for a young singer learning how to sing tenor parts! A classically trained tenor wanting to “cross over” into musical theatre could easily pull this off, but so could a more pop-ish tenor.

Lastly — opera! Yes, when we think “tenor” we usually think of powerful, ringing high notes in heroic sounding arias. Below are two for you to consider:

First, “Una furtiva lagrima” is a gorgeous aria from Donizetti’s “Elixir of Love”. This is suitable for a first aria for young lyric tenors: not only will it show your understanding of “bel canto” (which means “beautiful singing “ in Italian!), but it’s another chance to show off your acting skills. You’re pining for your love here! No surprise — this IS opera, after all! Here is the great Luciano Pavarotti performing it:

Another idea is “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot”. Important note: this aria is ONLY to be attempted by tenors who have been studying seriously for a long time! This is a heavier aria by Puccini that requires impeccable technique. This aria is so beloved that even Aretha Franklin attempted it! It’s a real crowd-pleaser that will get them on their feet if you can nail those high Cs.

The most important resource for appropriate vocal repertoire — and learning how to sing tenor well — is your voice teacher, of course. He or she can assess if you are ready for these songs or arias. If you are, fantastic! Also remember that it goes beyond vocal technique and the audition panels want to see that you are confident and know what you are singing about, too. Break a leg!

mollyrMolly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

 

 

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5 Stereotypes that Lead Singers Face – and How to Overcome Them

5 Stereotypes Lead Singers Face (& How to Overcome Them)

5 Stereotypes that Lead Singers Face – and How to Overcome ThemDo you sing with a band? If so, you may have been wrongfully accused of one of the many stereotypes lead singers face — even if you’re always on your best behavior! Here, St. Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L. shares her tips for proving them wrong…

 

I’m the lead singer — uh, make that the only singer — of two bands, an acoustic duo and a guitar/drum/piano/mandolin group. And as much fun as I have in each rehearsal, and as well as I get along with my bandmates, being a lead singer can be, well, weird. I’m always learning that lead singers face a lot of expectations, pressures, and especially stereotypes. I’m also always learning to push past them. Here’s a list of five stereotypes that people who sing with a band can face, and how to rise above!

1. Lead singers are pushy princesses or princes.

We’re thought to be super bossy, directing the entire rehearsal, dictating precise tempos, and rearranging set order again and again. And while there’s nothing wrong with expressing your opinion, just remember: it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Be sure to make your voice heard in a respectful and calm way, or you might just find yourself looking for a new band!

2. Lead singers need to be the center of attention (all the time).

While it’s not cool to be an ultimate diva, this stereotype actually makes sense. I mean, the lead singer is the center of attention much of the time. It’s not our fault. But a team is a team, and it’s important to let every member show off individual talents. Let every member of your band have a solo once in a while. That way, everyone shines on stage.

3. Lead singers know squat about music theory.

Okay, so maybe, sometimes, we lead singers believe that we can get by on our good looks. But some lead singers not only have a decent amount of theory knowledge, but also maintain serious theory geek status. If your bandmates josh you every time you forget the relative minor of C major, then just avoid talking about music. Or, better yet, ask your voice teacher to help you brush up on your theory with a great curriculum book, like Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory. It’s easy, fun and you’ll be able to learn music in less time.

4. Lead singers are high maintenance.

We need our particular teas and our certain bottles of water, and, “oh, no thank you, we don’t drink any dairy beginning three weeks before a gig.” Some of these “high maintenance” behaviors are simply good vocal health habits, especially when you sing with a band. But remember, a professional never panics and always maintains a proper perspective. So don’t flip out if you can’t make a cup of Throat Coat before band practice!

5. Lead singers are ditzy airheads.

We’re always late to practice. We’re always forgetting our music. Lead singers are not known for perfect attendance or organization skills. But we can all help change that! How? By being punctual, organized, and just, well, considerate of other band members.

Overcoming the stereotypes that lead singers face is ultimately about seeing yourself as the best kind of leader — the one who sees themselves in the trenches with everyone else. Remember, your bandmates are the people who you make music with. In the long run, overcoming the stereotypes that lead singers face will help you to become a better singer and a better band.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

 

 

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7 Singing Experts Share Their Best Music Biz Advice

7 Singing Experts Share Their Best Music Biz Advice

Here at TakeLessons, we’re passionate about helping students achieve their dreams, reach their potential, and receive the guidance they need from professionals ready to pass on valuable singing tips, knowledge, and encouragement. We talk about our singing teachers a lot, and have even featured many of them here on the blog. But we also know there’s a lot of advice worth noting in other corners of the web.

So we scoured the Internet, searching for other professionals, vocal coaches, and performers who could provide their own two cents — namely, what does it take to “make it” in the music industry? For those singers who aspire to be in the studio, on stage, or breaking records, what does it really take to get there? What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to be a professional singer? Here’s the advice we rounded up.

Tom Burke

Sign up for Tom’s Broadway VoiceBox program here!

Mark Baxter

Wade Sutton

Download Wade’s eBook, “The $150,000 Music Degree” here!

Cheryl Engelhardt

Download Cheryl’s eBook, In The Key of Success, here! (Note: She’s actually one of our teachers, too!)

Kimberley Smith

Nicola Milan

Judy Rodman

Readers, what do you think? What are the best singing tips you’ve ever received about breaking into the music industry? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Vocal Audition Crimes

Vocal Audition Crimes: 3 Mistakes That Turn Judges Off

Vocal Audition CrimesHave an audition coming up? You may know what TO do, but what about what NOT to do? Take a look at these tips for singing auditions in this guest post by Glendale, CA voice teacher Ben M...

 

Let’s face it: auditions are nerve-wracking. You’re presenting your talent for somebody else’s approval, and that’s not easy to do. But auditions can also be a ton of fun and lead to amazing changes in your life. It’s incredibly important to make auditions a habit, even if you’re happy with where you are in your singing career. The more auditions you attend, the easier it will be to convince yourself to go to the audition in the first place, the better you will perform, and the more likely any given audition will lead to the result you want. We’ve already covered the things you SHOULD do at an audition in a previous post. Here are the top three vocal audition crimes to avoid.

1. Letting Your Fear Take Over

A teacher once had to convince me that my anxiety over auditioning has exactly 0% benefit to my performance. Many of us believe that our anxiety will somehow prepare us to perform and will cause us to do a better job because we “take it more seriously.” But there’s a difference between anticipation and anxiety.

It’s great to be mentally prepared and aware of what will be expected of you at an audition. But the moment it crosses over to stress, you’re wasting valuable physical and emotional energy. You’ve crossed over to the dark side, where you’re now faced with the risk of psyching yourself out, forgetting your lyrics, or creating unnecessary tension in your voice. If you find yourself in this position, take a deep breath, count to 10, remind yourself that it’s just an audition, and RELAX. Just as with vocalization, the only way to see the results you want is to let go and allow your body to arrive at and STAY at a place of rest.

2. Not Knowing Your Words By Heart

There’s never an excuse not to know your lyrics at an audition. In fact, there’s every reason to ensure you know them by heart. It’s not just to prove you know the words – it’s about internalizing the song and spending time with it, which is one of the important tips for singing well. Once you learn how to efficiently memorize lyrics, it can actually be quite fun. The process allows you to apply your own voice to the song and make little changes in phrasing and intonation. Methods vary depending on how you learn best, but I have always found that memorizing a song line by line yields the quickest results. Sing through one line of a song until you know it, then start from the top of the song and sing up to the line you just learned. It may seem like it takes longer this way, but you’ll find that you internalize the tune much faster. Remember to do your core memorization at least one night before – you’ll find that the words come much easier the next day.

3. Going Too Far Out Of Your Sweet Spot

Not everybody agrees with me here, but an audition is not the time to try something you’ve never done before. Nor is it the time to try to sound like somebody you have never sounded like. It’s tempting for singers to go over the top and show the outermost range of what they can do, but the problem with this is that you are exposing your limits to the folks auditioning you. In the process, you’re taking the attention away from what it is you do best. When an audition notice asks to “see your range,” be smart about your choices. Make sure that your audition piece is 90% in your sweet spot – the tried and true range and timbre of your voice. If you like, you can add a few special embellishments that show the tip of the iceberg, but don’t make that uncharted territory the meat of your audition. Besides the weakness-exposure factor, you’ll find that whatever anxiety you do carry into the audition will not work in your favor if you’re trying to hit higher notes or mask your voice with a tone that isn’t yours.

Lastly, don’t go at it alone! Consulting a vocal coach is a necessity before attending a big audition. Besides helping you brush up on technique, a good coach will also be able to critique your audition and help you pinpoint weak spots, preparing you for an easy audition process that you can repeat again and again.

Readers, what other tips for singing auditions have helped you? Let us know in the comments below!

Ben

Ben M. teaches music performance and singing in Glendale, CA. He attended Northeastern University and is currently studying voice at Brett Manning Studios. Learn more about Ben here!

 

 

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