Finding your voice
Do you have sultry stylings? Does your heart yearn to croon the blues like Billie Holiday? Do you
consider yourself a story-teller a la Tom Waits? Pop diva like Christina? Charasmatic entertainer like
Freddie? We all dream of being a superstar, rocking the stage and making millions of hearts melt, but
there are so many ways to go about it. It’s natural to gravitate towards a sound that we relate to,
perhaps we have a similar voice/style of singing, or maybe we wish to have that sound. Understanding
how we view ourselves is crucial to delivering an honest performance. It allows us to really put our soul
in plain sight, and convey the message behind the music.
As humans we borrow and share traits and habbits. It’s easy to get swept up in trends, and I can’t be the
first one to tell you that popular does not necessarily mean quality. Stay interested and keep your mind
open. Read/watch interviews of some of your favourite artists. Who inspires them? Sometimes this
journey to discovery can yeild surprising and fabulous results.
You can find quite in-depth videos online giving you great practice techniques and vocal warm-ups. I
would recommend to anyone who ever imagines themselves behind a microphone to search YouTube
for scales and other tips right away. Your vocal chords need to be trained and maintained just like any
other muscle in your body that you expect great things from. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day for two
weeks will provide results, I can guarantee it. (The other members of MCL notice when I’ve been
skipping days on my rehearsal schedule!)
Choosing the right song
Modern pop songs often are written in a style that is very power-vocal driven and are usually recorded
using multiple takes and over-lapping phrases. I find that doing a bit of research on your chosen songs
never goes amis. Check youtube to find the origional performer singing live. Electronic samples and pre-
programmed sounds will need to be replicated by instruments (which includes your and our voices) so
look to see if there are versions both with a full band and also acoustic, as the latter will always be more
of a more realistic live sound.
Singing is intensely physical. Stamina is important, so being realistic with your range will go a long way
towards delivering a great performance. Keep in mind that your favourite song will not always be the best
choice, instead I try to think of the “feel” of a particular tune whether I could tell the story truthfully. I find
that those are the performances where the audience really connect with us.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Knowing the song seems like a pointless piece of advice, but you might be surprised as to how many
songs you think you know, but you just know the first verse and chorus. I recommend being able to write
out all the lyrics to your chosen song. Being able to do that and also speaking (speaking, not singing; a
useful lyric-learning exercise) the lyrics slowly, will ensure that the possibility of having a mind-blank
seconds before the vocals start are drastically decreased.
Comfort plays an improtant role in an enjoyable experience, no matter the activity. Some people plan
meticulously every detail of their performance down to the power-slide and eyeshadow colour, but
sometimes the comfort is overlooked. As a singer, we breathe from our diaphram (mid-lower range of the
belly, for those who don’t know) so maybe don’t opt for something really tight in that area. Also, heels.
Ladies and gentlemen who choose to wear high-heeled shoes, please please PLEASE make sure you’ve
practiced walking and dancing in your heels. Let them not be a new pair that have yet to be broken in.
The same goes with every item of your outfit. There’s a reason those in the theatre have a “dress
On the night…
So you’ve been in the spotlight and now it’s time to greet your fans. As sure as it is that Beyonce is
Queen, people are going to say how great-of-a-job you did, regardless of how you thought it went. We all
understand how difficult it is to throw your heart out on display; public speaking is a major fear for a lot of
us and some people will just be impressed that you were brave enough to get up there. The most
important think to remember after the show is that these lovely people just want to make sure that “we”
know that they enjoyed “us”. Most people don’t get the chance to be a superstar beyond Kareoke, and
their opinion is important. No one’s going to be critical of you for giving it a go, so if the performance
didn’t go exactly as you had dreamed, kindly thank your fans and move on. Responding to a positive
comment with negativity can make your fans think that they are stupid for not thinking the same thing or
worse yet, not important enough to you.
Having fun is the aim of the game. Visually enjoying yourself can mask an unexperienced performer, and
it definately sets apart the entertainers from the Nervous Nellies. Nerves go with the teritory of
performing – you take away the nerves, you risk taking away the excitement of the whole show – but it’s
possible and important to be able to co-exist with this feeling. I could tell you that the nerves do cease to
be such a problem the more you perform, but I would only be telling you the half-truth. I get more
nervous performing in just a lounge with a few close friends for the first time than I do on a big stage in
front of three hundred people. What I can tell you however is that you can trick the audience (and
yourself) into thinking that you feel 100% comfortable on that stage. Like that stage is your home. Like
you were born to be on that stage and now you’re gonna have to have all your mail forwarded to P.O
Box, Stage. Simply smile. *(Catution; If you choose to perform some sort of tragic lossed-love ballad,
don’t sing the whole song with a smile on your face, that would be weird).