Every voice is different. That’s the beauty part. YOU are wonderfully unique. Unfortunately, students, even advanced ones, come into my studio mimicking, comparing, hiding, trying to be and sound like everyone and everything they are not. Trying to be anything but you is futile. When it stops, progress begins.
There is true power in putting pen to paper. I don’t care if it is trying out for the school choir, performing at an open mic, dusting off your audition book, getting your Equity card or winning a Grammy, set goals for your singing and write them down. Revisit your goals periodically and reassess to maintain momentum.
Students often rely on me to suggest and recommend songs for them. Understandable. More often I ask them what types of music they like and encourage them to get digging and bring in songs they really want to sing. You need to be passionate about what you sing and say as a singer. If you don’t care about what you’re singing, neither will we.
If I had a dime for every student who got discouraged or frustrated and stopped studying, I’d be a wealthy gal. As my former teacher said, “Wobble and be brave!” Be patient. Focus on the long-term. There will be bumps and lessons to learn along the way. Trust that they are part of the process. If you truly put the effort in, you will see results.
Singing is possibly one of the most vulnerable things you can do. And truly freeing the voice is a complicated but gratifying journey. Fear – in any form – will pulverize a singer’s progress. Those who excel are willing to explore themselves from the inside out. Avoidance is debilitating. There isn’t anything a singer can tell me that I haven’t been through myself or heard from other singers. Let’s address it head on and work through it so you can move forward.
This is a biggie. And I’ve seen it kill off more potential talent than I’d like to say. Do everything you need to do to show up – for yourself, your lesson, your class, a gig – NO EXCUSES. The more consistent, disciplined and dedicated you are to taking the steps needed to improve your voice, the more success you will have. You get what you put into it. Plain and simple.
Voice lessons and classes are YOUR time. They are not meant to be spent trying to do every single vocalize perfectly or trying to impress your teacher. So, scribble. Color outside the lines. Try new things. Experiment. Play.
And as far as I’m concerned, you’re just getting started. If you really want to make a song your own, you need to become intimate with it. Explore its structure. Dissect the scene. Analyze the phrasing. Live inside it for a while. And then, set it free and see what happens. Then, regroup, learn from your performance, explore some more and sing it again.
Tension. I frequently refer to it as the “evil” of the singer. Holding on, holding back, thinking too much, worrying about note hitting – all these will foil you. Trust your work. Trust your talent. Trust your material. Remember why you love to sing and why you love the song. Then, let it all go and just tell the story.
What’s the best thing you can take with you into any audition or on stage? Confidence. How do you get it? By doing the work. Very few voices are born. Most are earned. Stay in the biggest dream of yourself as a singer. Do the work. Then – leap!
Pat Whiteman is an acclaimed performer and sought-after voice teacher and performance coach in Los Angeles. Her latest show “The Mood I’m In,” directed by Broadway’s Jason Graae, was recently hailed as “the perfect cabaret show” and Ms. Whiteman, “a pure pleasure to see and hear,” by Cabaret Scenes Magazine.
Pat is skilled at helping students achieve solid vocal technique as well as encouraging performers to address specific problems and issues that may be blocking their talent and progress. Her clients include a four-time Emmy nominated actor, The Voice, American Idol and X-Factor contestants, working television, film and stage actors and musical theater professionals. She frequently works with performers who are writing and producing their own one person/cabaret shows and has prepared students for Broadway Artist Alliance in New York City, The Cabaret Conference at Yale and UCLA Theater Camps. Pat taught the "Finding Your Voice" workshop for UCLA Extension, is a graduate of the 2008 Cabaret Conference at Yale and has contributed to the books “Mastering Monologues and Acting Sides” and “Voiceovers: Techniques and Tactics for Success.” www.patwhiteman.com