I hope you’ve enjoyed the things I have to say thus far on this blog adventure. Today’s post has less to do with direct things you should do in the room and more to do with your success as a musician.
Singers so often get grouped into a group separate from musicians. You’ve heard it, “I’m a musician and a singer…” “Yeah they’re a singer, but not a musician.” And you’ve all heard the singer jokes. They get tired, especially when it comes for the intelligence of a human being. That being said, the voice is the easiest instrument to pick up by ear, and when we’re young and start singing, the first way we do that is by listening and mimicking. This is all great, and the same can be said for many pianists and other instrumentalists. The difference that we come across, is that in order to have a blossoming career as a trumpet player, for example, (especially in theater or commercially) you need to be able to read music and study music. There are of course exceptions to everything, sitting there arguing semantics will get you nowhere and in fact is time you could be learning something…*eye roll* (I like eye rolls)
I believe that every singer or vocalist, or whatever you identify as, should start TODAY learning and practicing the theory of music. I don’t care if you think it’s boring, you’ll be a woke musician and music directors and others will find you more appealing. I can’t tell you how many times in a room that someone has been hired over another because “they’re a phenomenal musician.” I say it often myself in rooms. That reference given to a team in the audition room, especially in a musically difficult show, or any show that involves a lot of ensemble singing, is GOLDEN. And those little references can come from anyone and anywhere; the reader, the accompanist, the choreographer, the assistant director, the friend of the casting director that’s just sitting in…you never know.
Ok great, practice and get better at music. But how you say? Easy, pick up a theory book. You can order one online, you can buy one at Sam Ash or Guitar Center or the Julliard Book Store. There are many options. Buy a beginner (or intermediate or advanced) theory book and really learn about music.
SECONDLY AND MORE IMPORTANTLY FOR SINGERS:
Ear Training. It may sound boring to some. When I went to Berklee College of Music part of the REQUIRED curriculum was ear training. We were required to take four semesters of it unless you tested into a more advanced class from the get go. I ended up taking an ear training class every semester I was at school. Ear Training 3 and 4, Advanced Ear Training, Advanced ear Training 2, Advanced Modal Ear Training, Atonal Ear Training, Microtonal Ear Training…I’m a music geek sure, but also it gave me invaluable tools in pursuing my career as a musician.
I like to think of my music schooling as Hogwarts curriculum… Ear Training is definitely the Transfiguration of Berklee. It’s maybe boring and banal to some, but it’s MASSIVELY helpful in the future of your music career.
Pick up some ear training books. Listen to music and pick out the melody on a key board. Practice with a friend. Sight read some music. Do all the things or some of the things. If you want some specifics on ear training, please comment or reach out, there’s so much good material.
SINGERS NEED TO KNOW MUSIC. It makes you inordinately valuable to a production when you can learn hard harmonies quickly.
That’s All. Keep singing and learning!