On one level, singers are master preparers. A tremendous
amount of time is spent training and practicing, and in the case of many
recording artists, songwriting as well. In fact, singers are often virtually
non-stop in their physical and mental preparation for success, whether or not any
performance or recording dates are on the imminent horizon.
Yet another kind of preparation is all too often
neglected, and that is with the technology that makes recording and live shows
possible. Indeed, for all of their training and practicing for a performance
career, for all of their songwriting and rehearsing prior to recording, singers
rarely take the time to proactively work with the technology that facilitates
There are a number of reasons for this, including access
and money. Not everyone has friends who work in recording studios or have Pro Tools
rigs at home. Even fewer people can afford to book studio or stage time to
practice, much less to record or perform.
Yet there’s more to it than that. There is often an assumption
that when the time comes, a singer can show up to the studio or stage and that everything
will work out… that they just need to sing the way they always have, perform the
way they’ve always practiced, and that the technology and those running it will
meet them where they are and ensure that things turn out perfectly.
It doesn’t work this way. And with a bit of thought, the
reason why is clear: In what other setting, line of work, or discipline can you
just show up, with no training or practice, and do a great job? Where else in
life can you use an entirely new set of tools competently, much less expertly,
without knowledge of how they function or experience with them?
It’s like expecting to ride or swim perfectly the first
time you get on a bike or into a pool. Practice and patience are not only to be
expected, they’re required to achieve mastery.
Thankfully, access to studios, friends in high places,
and deep pockets aren’t necessary to gain the skills required for stage and
studio singing. With a pair of inexpensive studio headphones, a handheld
microphone, an average laptop, and free recording software, we can learn the practical
basics of studio hearing and singing. We are able, with the same microphone and
a decent amp or pair of speakers, to practice balancing our listening and performing
in a live setting (to say nothing of the many free open mic nights available in
Some singers take these steps but the vast majority do
not. This needs to change.
Jennifer Hamady is a voice coach and psychotherapist specializing in emotional and technical issues that interfere with creative and self-expression. Her new book, "Singing on Stage and in the Studio: Understanding the Psychology, Technology, and Relationships in Recording and Live Performance", will be released by Hal Leonard on March 22, 2016.
Labels: learning, singing