The one thing that I stress for vocalists of all levels as well as other instrumentalists is DEVELOP GREAT EARS.
Every day I get an email from someone wanting to know what they can do to sing better. They always list some of their favorite singers, usually artists that have been recording for quite some time; and they always wonder what separates these stars from the rest of field.
What can they do to sing better? This is a very broad question with a myriad of answers. Without hearing the actual singer, I can only give general advice.
In the music business there’s a saying often used: “What separates the talent from the ‘wanna be’s’ and the stars from the talent?”
For singers, talent is rarely enough. Many have talent; few take it a step further in order to really separate them from the rest of the competition. These few are the ones that usually get noticed. The one thing that I stress for vocalists of all levels as well as other instrumentalists is DEVELOP GREAT EARS.
At first this may sound a bit odd but the truth is that many singers on every level have a tendency of just singing without really listening. How many times have you really been impressed with someone singing in front of you? Maybe once or twice? Rarely do I ever hear someone live that really impresses me, but when I do it’s a great feeling. They have done their homework.
Having good ears is extremely important because it is your ears that tell you when you are square on the note. You hear many singers out there that come in flat or sharp on a note but they don’t realize it. This could be you. Maybe they don’t even realize it or maybe they do but they don’t know how to fix it? Remember: practice makes perfect and you should always take great care to listen to yourself sing. Practice with a tuned instrument. Get someone to play the instrument and help you “tune in.” This will help you develop those ears and keep your voice locked in tune. How bad would it be if you found out that you actually weren’t squarely on the note?
A lot of times, singers want to cut on a song exactly like the original artist. Note for note. It’s your ears that will tell you when you have it right. Trying to do a good vocal run? Go over it note for note until you feel positive that it is perfect. Too many singers “gloss” over the run without really defining each note. This makes them sound amateurish.
Aspiring vocalists that are looking to take the step into the professional ranks need to take extreme care of their hearing. It’s difficult for anyone to realize that they are experiencing a degree of hearing loss since this loss is usually a gradual process. You must protect those ears otherwise your career will be over before it even gets started. If you feel that this could be you then get your hearing tested.
Excessive exposure to loud volumes will inevitably affect your hearing. Is it really necessary to crank the volumes to 10 during your band practice? Do you wear earplugs to concerts if you’re located near or before the speakers? Do you jam out in your car with huge volume? All of these “damage” your ears in some way. Each time you are exposed to this type of hearing abuse, your ears become less sensitive. Hence, you slowly lose an edge on your hearing and you are quickly joining the hearing impaired.
If you can’t hear then how do you suppose you’ll be able to sing? You can’t.
Develop and protect your ears! Training and talent make up a large portion of vocal expression and your true vocal colors. However, training and talent is proportional to your hearing quality. The better you hear, the better you sing with control. The less you hear, the less control you have over your voice which is the opposite of most aspiring artists.
Last words, as a singer you should learn as much about your voice and about your craft. Have a music professional or someone with good ears outside of your circle of friends evaluate your singing. These people won’t be afraid to let you know if you are squarely in tune or in some cases…out of tune. This will undoubtedly put you on the path to becoming a better singer and save you valuable time in acquiring control that separates the stars pool from the rest of the talent pool.
Article by Lee Lontoc
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