December 18th, 2011 | by VoiceCouncil

Secure Your Singing Future


Follow these 5 tips and you can have a life-long singing journey -says Juliet Russell

As Artistic Director of Sense of Sound, I have worked with hundreds of professional and aspiring vocalists.

What makes the difference between being a good singer and having a successful career?

Other than talent and commitment, the answer to this question has to do with cultivating some key habits:

1. Follow Your Passion
Sing because you love it, not because you think it will make you rich, popular or even famous. That’s not to say these things won’t happen as a consequence, but they’re not the main event. To sustain a career in music you have to love what you do. Passion glows. If you know the only thing you can possibly do with your life is to sing and make music, it’s the right career for you.

2. Engage With The World
Any art form is about communication; how we as humans share an experience with others. Some of the best music has been made by people who know What’s Going On* and are tuned into the world around them. By sharing our experiences and giving a creative voice to the wider world we reflect, illuminate and sometimes even help to bring about change.

3. Look After Yourself
Look after your voice and your voice will look after you (usually). Although some singers can live a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and still have a great functioning voice, the truth is that most can’t. Be a vocal athlete. The vast majority of singers train before going on tour. They warm up. They work out. They eat healthily. They have vocal coaches. It’s not because it’s fashionable, it’s because it’s essential. It’s good to find a healthy balance in your life – whatever works for you. Always find time to have fun and enjoy yourself. Your mental and emotional wellbeing are as important as your physical health. Switch off, de-stress, learn to relax the body and mind and get a good night’s sleep whenever you can.

4. Get Organised
Singers are among the busiest people I know and in a changing music industry, being organised is essential. Aside from the basics such being on time, learning the songs etc., many singers now find themselves in the role of manager, band leader, song writer, agent, secretary, website designer, driver, roadie, label manager… That’s a lot of jobs. It’s impossible to be effective if you either haven’t got a team around you or you are not organised. Prioritise your goals in terms of practise and performance. Essential organisational tools such as a database, linked communications, social media, networks, an online calendar and basic financial skills can make a huge difference to how effective, and consequently how successful, you are.

5. Never Stop Learning
Whether it’s going to gigs, listening to new artists or experimenting with a new vocal technique or musical style, there’s a whole wonderful world of music out there waiting to be explored. Be brave. Challenge yourself. Some of the most influential artists in popular music are those who have taken chances, experimented and pushed themselves out of a perceived limit or comfort zone. We can all do that. As part of our artistic journey we can commit to learning, creating and evolving throughout our lives.

* seminal album by Marvin Gaye

Juliet Russell is a founder and Artistic Director of Sense of Sound, a company that creates and produces amazing ways to celebrate singing. She has performed with some of the UK’s most illustrious artists including Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Paloma Faith, Seal, Imogen Heap and Ringo Starr. She has coached vocalists from Grammy award winners to X-Factor finalists and is passionate about developing artists and helping people to achieve their creative and vocal potential. www.senseofsound.org

Bio Photo credit Geraint Davies
Original Photo for feature image, CocteauBoy on Flickr

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  • maxGuest

    All weel and good, but i looked forward to more practical tips to avoid sore throats, flat notes due to exhaustion and 4-hours singing marathons, and the like.

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  • Anonymous

    I love these tips – thanks!  I especially relate to the “vocal athlete” idea – after all, it makes a tonne of sense – no proper guitarist would go ahead with a damaged instrument, without replacement strings and taking care not to smash their fingers!  We vocalists need to translate this sense of care to our voice – thanks Juliet.

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  • Bryan

    I’m committed to unsubscribing to the vast majority of lists I’m on this year, but this list is definitely the exception.  Always something of interest and substance.

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  • Jennifer

    Very inspiring and extremely useful. Thank you.

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  • Juliet

    Thank you so much for the feedback. Max take a look at Dane Chalfin’s articles on this site for more information on vocal tips. This article was more about supporting skills than vocal ones. I will do more vocal based articles in the future too

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  • http://www.siansanderson.com/ sian

    Inspiring and affirming! Thankyou. :)

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  • www.mrjasonsweeney.com

    excellent article, i love the common sense of step 3 massive help..

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  • http://www.maheekatmusic.com/ Clara Efrona

    Thank you for mentioning Point 4, getting organised. That is soo important. There’s a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen that is great for getting organised AND being more productive with your time.

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