Dreaming about becoming a professional singer and wondering how to approach this? We are inspired by new songs on the radio weekly and artists that pop-up left, right and centre. The great thing is this globalisation of the music industry creates so may new opportunities for artists and audiences alike.

The challenge to artists is an increase in competition where they will have to fight to stay on the top of the charts for a couple of weeks at best.

Reality shows like The Voice, Idols and X-Factor have people thinking that becoming a professional singer is as simple as getting discovered. Unfortunately, the reality is that most singers don’t even make it to the professional playing field.

Becoming a professional singer requires drive, passion, personality and a continuous commitment to work hard. Even the most talented singers will need to push through when doors are slammed in their face.

"Success occurs when opportunity meets preparedness." - Zig Ziglar

There are few professional performers who have not had a long-term relationship with at least one vocal coach or singing teacher. Some of these famous singers still go for a singing lessons every now and then to ensure that they keep working on their vocal range. They also rely on the opinion and inspiration they get from someone they trust. Besides, they cannot afford not to, as the music industry becomes increasingly competitive by the day.

Want to learn how to sing better? Do you know how vocal training can help you to create healthy vocal cords and increase your vocal range? Here's how you can get on your way to becoming a professional singer.

What it Means to be a Performing Artist

Becoming a singing sensation doesn’t come easily. A lot of the most famous singers who made an impact on the world’s music stage have done so in the face of resistance and faced many trials and tribulations.

People like Ronan Keating and Boy George were told that they could not sing, and even Elvis had to bash through doors being slammed in his face to become the 'The King of Rock’ and one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century.

It is important to realise that whether or not an audience thinks you can sing is mostly based on what style is currently popular in the music industry. For example, watch the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, and you will see how the Rock band Queen were told by certain record labels that their music was not current enough.

You also need to realise that becoming a professional singer requires much more than just knowing how to sing better than your competition. Today, a professional performer’s popularity is influenced by what type of voice and music are trendy, whether their style is liked, whether they have an audience, and the competitiveness in their chosen genre or market, not to mention a record label and financing to back them.

Today’s singers also go to a great extent to exhibit their stage presence and personality and the latest stage technology and displays to leave their fans in awe.

vocal training to have a voice
You'll need persistence to be heard ~ Photo by Maria Krisanova on Unsplash

Al these aspects around the music business might make the task of becoming a professional singer seem daunting, but don’t be discouraged as you have a magic weapon that will lift you above everyone else – your style and personality. One of the biggest things that will make you stand out is the unique flavour and style you bring to your music.

You will have to work very hard to discover this by mastering a wide range of new skills and styles, but it’s inspiring to think that that place of creating something magical is on the horizon if you dream of breaking into the professional music world.

Want to perform Live to Thousands of Fans?

Can you remember the last live show or concert you saw where one of your favourite singers performed? Singers mesmerise us. The capability to draw others in and emotionally move thousands of people is what has inspired many performers to go into the industry in the first place.

Is your dream to perform in front of thousands of fans screaming your name?

The music industry will demand your time and commitment to continuous improvement and that you do everything possible to be seen and heard. This means you should have a real passion and an unwavering dedication to singing.

To stay ahead, today’s singers continuously learn how to sing better, incorporate new techniques and styles, and choreograph dance moves into their performances to make them more memorable. If all of this excites you, you won’t be discouraged by the fact that you might have to make personal sacrifices when you do music tours or shows across the country.

Professional singer on stage
Want to have fans screaming your name? ~ Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

Becoming and remaining a professional singer will place certain physical demands on you as well. Your vocal cords are your musical instrument and ensuring you practise good vocal health will ensure you enjoy a more sustainable career.

Therefore whatever training you take on needs to consider your vocal health and have the right mix of vocal warm up exercises and training techniques included.

The biggest secret to becoming a professional singer is hard work and persistence. You will have to train daily to create vocal fitness and increase your vocal range. Try and find a local or church choir to sing in, or any other possible way to perform in front of people. Maybe you can sing at a friend’s wedding or your grandmother’s birthday party? The more you practise how to sing notes and perform live, the more your voice training will kick in. Most of all, you are working towards the day when you can tell your own personal story to the world through music.

The Benefits of Classical Vocal Training

Classical training is usually associated with professional musicians and this is no different when your voice is your musical instrument.

Opera singers and classical singers have all been classically trained, most at universities or art schools where the foundations of their singing voices were laid. Unfortunately, South Africans in general have not been exposed to as much Opera and classical styles as Europeans, Americans or the British. While classical music might not be something you have an interest in, it is certainly a type of training that you will benefit from.

This type of training is highly technical and focuses on creating a solid foundation before stretching you to more challenging forms of singing. You will learn about things like vocal warm-up exercises, how to master sound placement, vowel forming, how to create perfect pitch, diaphragmatic breathing and breath control, jaw and muscle relaxation and so much more.

You will also learn how to sing notes as they are written on music scores and read sheet music, which is an invaluable skill for any serious singer.

Singing with an orchestra
Classical training will teach you how to work with an orchestra ~ Photo by Manuel Nägeli on Unsplash

If you are more interested in singing exciting riffs like today’s pop singers or want to try creating a breathy or husky voice, it will be easier to learn these modern music techniques if you have the right classical foundation.

You'll be able to belt out notes and make full use of a falsetto, your vibrato and straight tone – all at the drop of a hat.

Have you dreamt of singing with an orchestra or doing a co-lab with a singer like Lira? Classical training will teach you to perform duets and how to blend when you work with an orchestra and ensemble.

Classical voice training and singing lessons will also help you explore and discover what type of voice you have. Do you know how to sing high notes like a Soprano that will shatter glass, or do you have an alto voice that grounds harmonies? Male voices are classified into the more common baritone or you might have a tenor voice like Luciano Pavarotti?

A classical voice teacher will help you establish and practise aspects around making your voice type fit into any ensemble music piece. You will also learn how the tone of your voice can be unique, and discovering that is much more important than ever trying to imitate someone else’s voice.

The Art of Performing in Musicals

South African audiences are learning to love musical theatre more with each passing year.

Award winning shows like The Color Purple, Phantom of the Opera, Matilda and Chicago, to only mention a few, blow them away and South African talent is increasingly making bigger imprints on the global stage. Some musical theatre productions are doing so well that they tour to Europe or Eastern countries for up to two years.

The latest musical theatre pieces challenge conventional thinking and even utilise music styles like hip-hop and tell current stories. Are you one of the lucky ones who has seen the Phantom of the Opera or Shrek The Musical? Musicals cover a broad range of genres and there is something for everyone.

Some musical theatre pieces would require real triple threat performers; those who are good at singing, acting and dancing. It is therefore important that you find a mentor or vocal coach that is familiar with musical theatre as it has its own set of demands and voice techniques. Voice teachers in musical theatre will expose you to concepts like head voice versus chest voice, belting those high notes loudly or gently applying vocal techniques to sing in falsetto.

Do not be disheartened if you cannot dance, there are hundreds of musicals that require dramatic or comedic singers with little movement capabilities.

Almost every musical theatre performer has gone to a school, university or college where for years they studied the art of storytelling through performing arts. You will need an agent to represent you and a good musical theatre teacher will help you prepare for auditions for upcoming shows. Their experience will also come in handy when you do character work; something quite fundamental when you enter the world of musicals.

Musical Theatre passion
The world of Musical Theatre is colourful and diverse ~ Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

Different Musical Styles Colour Our World

A professional voice coach will get you to explore different genres and music styles. Since the beginning of music we’ve been weaving stories from literature, fables and books into music and visa versa.

Artists get inspired to create paintings or written works with music as their muse, and musicians could easily find a way back to their own creativity by looking at other art forms.

By exposing yourself to various forms of art you develop an open mind for creating something new. So, go watch an Opera, rock concert, movie or visit that art exhibition. Explore any and all creative art forms and see which one creates fire in your belly to be more creative.

Once you can master the musical basics around your voice, have learned to use your vocal cords in different ways, know your performing style and your vocal range you can start working on your own material and sound. Your exposure to other art forms will allow you to invent new angles, sounds and stories that will continue to move and inspire people.

Singing Creates Better Musicians, Dancers and Public Speakers

Music has changed us since the beginning of time and learning to sing will most definitely impact and uplift most people in a positive way. Famous composers like Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven fully understood every single musical instrument they brought together in an orchestra to create the envisioned music.

The human voice is one of those instruments.

Each and every musician can benefit from voice training, regardless of the musical instrument they play. Their understanding of the voice will not only enable them to weave voices together with their musical instruments, it will also allow them to work better with vocalists and direct them to create the sound quality they are looking for.

Dancers who can sing will find it easier to embody the music they use to tell a story with their bodies.

Music has a way of creating flow and thematic embodiment into most aspects around performing arts. Were you aware that Shakespeare was famous for incorporating a rhythmic and lyrical aspect to his sonnets?

If you plan a show, you have to consider the sound, stage design, costumes and orchestra size. An understanding of music will allow the various parties to contribute their specialty based on the musical quality and the type of show the artist wants to produce.

Even business people and public speakers can benefit from learning to sing. It will teach them how to use their voices properly. This includes learning how to project properly, various vocal warm-up exercises to use before a speech, how to keep the body relaxed, creating confidence and a ‘stage presence’ and lastly how to put a show together to win people over in meetings or a speech.

corporate public speaking
Gain the confidence and vocal skills to address any group of people when you learn to sing ~ Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Find Voice Training Now to Sing Professionally

As the saying goes, "All roads lead to Rome" and there are plenty of options when you consider vocal training to become a professional singer.

Maybe you like the idea of a focused full-time tertiary programme? You can learn the classical approach to music at a well-known university. If you prefer a more practical approach to singing, you can find this at some South African colleges.

Many musicians have made their way to the stage without any formal studies. They made use of vocal coaches and experts to help them craft a personalised ‘learning programme’ to follow between performances. Musicians have more freedom on this path, and the opportunity to earn money through a part-time job while they learn to sing better. With this approach anyone can start singing at any age, but it will require discipline, passion and support from the correct teachers or mentors.

You can find vocal coaches in your city or even online singing lessons where you get taught from home. Some of them have a classical background and would be able to assist you with those important techniques you will need to master at a university.

No qualification or study programme can give you the guarantee that you will make it in the industry. They will equip you with useful skills and tools, but the only thing that will make you rise to the top is your own commitment, hard work and passion.

Born to sing? Start building your dream of becoming a professional singer by finding your voice coach today.

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Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.