Most singers make a very distinct difference between what they do and what a piano player, saxophonist or guitarist does. ” I’m a singer, he’s a musician”. “I don’t play any instruments, I just sing”. However, the two are very much the same.
Let’s say I had two pieces of sheet music for “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. One is written for a saxophonist to play the melody line, the other for a vocalist to sing the melody. What would be the difference between the two pieces of music? Only one. The singer’s sheet music would have the words below the notes. Everything else would be exactly the same. The notes on the sax player’s music would look the same as the singer’s sheet music.
The difference is the instrument being used to create the notes. Why is that important for singers to understand? Very simple. If you as a vocalist can begin to really see your voice as a musical instrument, then it begins to change the way you think about what you do. Many singers are very passive about their craft. I suspect it’s because most singers are born with most of their talent. “I know how to sing, that’s all I need to know”.
A musician wasn’t born playing his instrument. Once he chooses one he likes he must begin studying his instrument. Soon he knows all of it’s parts and how they work. He knows how it produces tones and how to manipulate those tones. He knows how to take care of it, clean it, even take it apart and reassemble it in many cases.
He hones his craft constantly. The musicians who excel on their instruments ( over others who play the same instrument) are those who know the most about their instruments and have learned to master them by getting to know them inside and out. That and of course, lots of lessons and lots and lots of practice.
It should be the same with you if you’re a serious vocalist or hope to be someday. For example, you may be a soprano who leads that Yolanda Adams song with the church choir. But you really have to scream that high note to hit it, and once you’re done you’re wiped out. You’re hoarse for the rest of the day; sometimes several days.
Yet when Yolanda sings the same song she’s smiling the whole time. Then she goes on to sing for another 45 minutes straight after that! And that’s just that night. She has engagements every day for months lined up. Years for some artists when they’re out on tour.
How is this possible?! After all, you were both born with the gift to sing, right? There’s no denying different singers have different levels of God-given ability and range. And there are some people out there that defy logic. Some people are just flat-out anointed. But there is usually a much simpler explanation.
The simple answer is usually that these singers have learned some things about her voice, how it works and how to use it properly, that you don’t know. Recording artists are faced with a very stark reality once they get signed. They must either learn everything there is to know about their voice, how to master it, get the most out of it and most of all, protect it so it lasts them for many years- or be faced with a very short career.
So the big secret in the recording industry is that almost everybody takes lessons. Many don’t want the general public to know that, so you won’t often see the names of vocal coaches in the liner notes among the “thank-you’s”. But I digress (he says pouting).
So my “homework” for this week is to start thinking of yourself as a musician. You play an instrument, the instrument is your voice. Every musician should learn as much as they can about their instrument. Unless of course, your instrument is simply a hobby or something you do to relax.
If it’s more than that to you, stop accepting your limitations and start asking some questions about how to overcome them. You’ve seen people sing high notes effortlessly. You’ve seen recording artists sing for an hour straight. You know something’s going on, what is it? What do they know about their instrument that you don’t know about yours? What have they done to be able to do what they do, that you haven’t done?
As a singer, you are a musician. Every musician needs to study their instrument. My home study vocal training course will teach you how to use your voice properly. Get started free by signing up for my 5 day vocal training course below.