Private lessons? Check. Big dreams? Check! But there’s more to the equation when it comes to singing professionally. Monclova, OH teacher Carrie A. shares her professional experience to inform your own singing journey.
How to Become a Singer
I can’t tell you how many students over the years have come to me asking, “How do you become a singer on TV or Broadway?” before they finish their first vocal lesson. While those are great aspirations to go after, the truth is that it’s better to focus on smaller, more achievable goals as you start out.
Now, I don’t say this to discourage aspiring stars from taking the stage – not at all. The point of managing expectations at the beginning of our singing journey is to 1) stay humble, and 2) recognize that there’s no substitute for hard work and practice.
What I have found is a great way to get started is to look for opportunities to perform right in your own community. It is a serious long shot to go from never performing at all, to being chosen for some sort of reality show. Though you may hear of people winning the vocal lottery on TV, the fact is that many of the singers we know and love had humble beginnings and put in countless hours of practice. No one becomes a singer overnight.
I have performed in front of thousands of people numerous times, including once at Carnegie Hall. I, however, did not start there. I participated in lots of community theater, performed at weddings, did gigs at coffee shops, and performed at other small-scale venues before I had more distinguished opportunities.
I understand the desire to perform in front of large audiences. Still, I strongly encourage my students to take advantage of every opportunity they have to perform, whether big or small. Every performance is an opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun. The following suggestions are ones that I give to my students to help them find opportunities.
First, get a set list together. Whether you are a vocalist or instrumentalist, you need to have at least 10 songs that are performance-ready. Don’t be in a hurry with this step – look for songs that mean something to you and flow well together. Work with your music instructor to find what fits your singing style and go with that.
Second, gear up for rejection. You will be told no, probably multiple times. Don’t stop until you get a yes! Every successful person has gone through their fair share of rejection. I’m a professional singer, and I’ve had to deal with the same thing. Don’t take it personally, just move on and get excited for when someone says yes.
Third, connect with area charity organizations and ask if they need music at their next fundraiser. It will be a chance to use music to strengthen the community and possibly create more connections for future performances.
Fourth, think of places you can give back and get performance experience at the same time. For example, lots of nursing homes will jump at the chance to have you come and entertain their guests.
Opportunities like these are rewarding on many different levels. It feels good to use your talents for a positive and uplifting cause.
Finally, don’t look down on any opportunity that comes your way. Remember, in the beginning, it’s all about getting yourself out there and letting people know you are available. This will help you hone your skills and build your network. Vocal students wondering how to become a singer on the professional level need to understand that even the most ambitious goals happen one step at a time.
If that means you start by singing the national anthem at a local high school basketball game, so be it. One of my students did that very thing and now is invited by major car racing events to do the national anthem. She went from performing at the local high school to singing in front of 30,000 people during a televised event! The bottom line is this: in the beginning, nothing is too small if you really want to become a singer.
Whether you’re singing in the shower or Madison Square Garden, your love for music will propel you forward. Enjoy where you are today, pour your heart into each and every performance, and create a rewarding musical future!
Carrie A. teaches guitar and singing lessons in Monclova, OH. She has a BA in music and business, and has been teaching professionally for over 10 years. Learn more about Carrie here!