Archive for September 5th, 2007

A Reader Asks: How Do I Get Started As A Singer?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Dear Dave:
When your band played at my wedding reception, you got me up on stage to sing “At Last” to my groom. From that moment, I was hooked. Now I sing along constantly with the car radio, and have even joined the select ensemble at my church. But I dream of taking it to the professional level (at least part-time.) The trouble is, I don’t know how or where to start. Can you give me some ideas? Also, what songs do I need to know?
Heather M.

Dear Heather:
I remember you! You were very poised on stage, you handled the microphone like a pro, and my wife said that your singing gave her chills, because it obviously came straight from your heart. Therefore, you possess 3 of the 5 ingredients necessary to pursue the Music Biz full or part-time: Confidence, Technique, and Talent.

The other 2 requirements are Time and Commitment (or “Drive”). And only you can determine where you stand with those. You’ll need both in order to memorize 20 – 30 songs and bring them up to performance-level. As to which songs they should be, that depends on your voice and where you want to perform. A repertoire of show tunes works great in a classy cabaret, but is useless at a dance club. So first, ask yourself “where do I see me singing?” (Hint: the songs must compliment your voice. Tina Turner doesn’t do Celine Dion songs, and vice-versa.)

Whenever possible, pick songs with a proven track record – especially ones that have been a hit more than once. Stick with familiar tunes, and learn your keys.

Once you’ve got a nice mix of music, Commitment kicks in. Here’s where you get a return on all that effort! One way to do this is to assemble a group of folks with about your level of talent and experience, and about the same amount of time to devote to music as you have. Your “band” might only play once or twice a month, but you’d be living your dream.

The other way to break into the pros is as a “sub.” Take a dozen karaoke tracks into a studio and record 30 – 60 seconds of each, to showcase your voice in a variety of tempos and styles. Burn a few CDs of the finished product. Make a list of your songs and keys. Throw in a recent photo, and you have a demo! Bandleaders like me are always on the lookout for someone who is ready to fill in on a moment’s notice.

Heather, every band has permanent members who were once somebody’s “subs.” Like you, they had a dream. Theirs has now come true. Yours can too!
All the best, Dave Tanner