Singing In The Last Decade and Now
In my profession I get to meet a lot of singers. One of the ways that this happens is in Private lessons and another via the Workshops that I run. At these Workshops I always ask the following question of the audience... 'please put up your hand if you believe that the overall standard of singing has improved in the last 10 years'. Very few hands rise. Why is that I ask? The responses are varied and often give me answers that I have never thought of. The most heard comment is the suggestion that a voice can be manipulated via recording techniques (auto tune in particular), reality singing competitions and above all poor training etc.
What baffles me is that today there are more resources available to singers than at any other time in history. If you google Singing or Vocal Programs you will find a significant amount available for immediate download (mine included). We now have every second person with an Mp3 player, iphone or ipod. These programs and devices are compatible with your car, computer etc and can virtually be used anywhere. We still have the same 24 hours in the day and so the list goes on....Whilst we can speculate about this subject forever, in my opinion there is no question that the most significant change is how singers are trained.
- When I started receiving professional voice training all of that training was done with a piano.. no backing tracks. This in and of itself made sure that you the singer were the main instrument and had to be responsible for the melody and tuning.
- All of my lessons were recorded (albeit on cassette) as this was the most accurate way of being able to measure progress and listen to the feedback from the teacher.
- I was advised (and most times told) what songs to sing. That is material that suited me and most importantly developed my skills and my confidence. On way too many occasions I have a student with a song suggestion from their mum or dad or best friend. To me that is like asking your plumber about your electrical wiring.
- I only had teachers who ' knew' about the demands of a career. I went to many who were nice people and well intended, however the fact remains that as much as these teachers were ' sincere', in many cases they were' sincerely wrong'.
- We are all to some extent under the influence of television singing competitions. Even if you don't approve, the public perception is there. On a daily basis I have a student tell me that a well intentioned friend or relative has 'suggested' that they should go in one of these reality shows so that they can get known. Let me state that I am not in favour nor against this way of thinking, nor am I against or in favour of entering these competitions, but I will stress here once more...it has and will continue to have an influence on singers and singing now and for years to come.
Now before I appear to be a negative nay sayer, let me produce a positive alternative..
Firstly we do have some outstanding singers around today. The way that they have developed is wide and varied, however you will find a number of the following suggestions to be familiar to many of them and I strongly suggest that you take some or all on board...
- Decide NOW why you want to be a great singer, artist etc. The power of WHY exceeds any other component of a successful career than any other factor I have witnessed.
- Seek wise consul from someone who KNOWS what it takes to build the skills required for a successful career
- Get a training schedule that is manageable and measurable. If it is not showing signs of improvement, get rid of it!!
- ONLY sing material in public that shows your best ability (privately sing whatever you feel like as there is some benefit and opportunity to discover)
- Be well rehearsed as there are cameras everywhere and people think nothing of filming you and putting it on youtube.
- Above ALL get some great influences in your life both artistically and singing wise.
Have a great time and be part of the movement to lift the standard of singing...