How to be a professional singer (part 2)
  1. Once you have developed a good technique and you have a realistic perception of the potential of your voice, develop a long-term vision, and break it down into “steps”. You might see your future as:
    a. a successful solo artist,
    b. part of a duo or small ensemble, or
    c. a member of larger ensembles (eg opera chorus, musical theatre ensemble, professional choir).

    Be realistic about your talent and ability and select the right course for you. Trying to carve out a career as a solo artist when you do not have a good solo voice will only lead to heartbreak. Many happy professionals enjoy their roles as ensemble singers or choristers. We are not all destined to be solo artists. For that matter, not every solo artist will succeed at the very top level but they can still be very successful professionals in the right domain.

  2. Seriously consider learning basic dance, movement and acting.
    Nowadays, it is not enough just to have a good singing voice. Those who will engage you will expect a complete package. Even ensemble singers must be able to move freely onstage and express themselves with their whole bodies. Stage movement does not just happen. If you do not practise moving on stage, you will not do it. And an understanding of acting technique will enable you to immerse yourself in your songs and produce your most credible results. So, at the very least, take some basic classes.
  3. Establish a regular working relationship with an accompanist who will help you to learn your repertoire and to achieve a standard of excellence in your performance. This is an invaluable part of being a successful artist. It disciplines you to learn your work, to practise regularly and to experiment with methods of presentation. This is particularly important for solo artists, especially those performing at an elite level.
    A good accompanist will double as a repetiteur, vocal coach and perhaps your most helpful mentor.
  4. Establish and maintain a regular fitness program.
    You may from time to time hear top line singers referred to as elite athletes. There is no doubt that the best singing requires a good deal of energy. To be able to draw on such energy at every performance, a
    singer needs to be physically fit. Another consideration here is the long-term maintenance of excellent technique. It is said from time to time that a singer’s standard of performance can deteriorate with the ageing process. The truth is that the musculature that supports singing can lose tone in advancing years and nasty elements appear, such as a slow, wide vibrato. An ongoing fitness program can ensure that muscle tone is maintained and that technique can continue to ensure excellent performance long into the senior years.
  5. Seek out and accept every opportunity to perform before an audience
    Every opportunity to perform is a gift. It will help you to hone your skills, to manage nervousness and performance anxiety and to always maintain best technique. Truth is, often such opportunities will also
    provide you with your first performing income.
  6. Never turn up to a rehearsal without thoroughly knowing your music and being able to perform it at a very high standard.
    This is an absolute “no-no”. Your professional reputation will soon be in tatters if you do not learn your music before the first rehearsal. You will not be re-booked if you do not learn your work. And word will
    soon spread.

    There are many things to consider on your journey to success, but perhaps the single most important quality you need is determination. Along the way there will be many false starts, much disappointment and more rejection than you should have to endure, but sad to say, that’s just part of being in the music business. Between working a “real job” to pay the bills, putting in impossibly long hours to create your art and every other difficulty coming your way, you need to find a way to stay focused and determined. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering … surround yourself with successful, supportive friends and colleagues who will always help you over the bumpy times. Just believe … and do it!


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