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 has coached Grammy award winners and X-Factor finalists and is a vocal coach on BBC1’s The Voice. She has performed and collaborated with Damon Albarn, Imogen Heap, Paloma Faith, Ringo Starr and is in demand as a coach, singer, vocal arranger and choral director. In spring 2015, Juliet be touring her forthcoming album, Earth Meets Sky, throughout the UK, collaborating with choirs to create a unique performance in each city.