Singing for success


Posted Tue, Oct 23, 2012

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Successful singers learn music from Broadway hits to children’s lullabies. [Photo by Ashley King]

“Vee-e-e-e, veh-eh-eh-eh, vah-ah-ah-ah-ah,” is being sung upon walking into the Derr Voice Studio, Centennial, Colo. Singers use this and many other warm ups, to get their vocal chords exercised and ready to sing their songs.

As the lesson moves on music from Broadway, pop hits and lullabies are all being sung, and practiced on. All of this being prepared for auditions, performances and ultimately a career down the road.

Thousands upon thousands of hours are spent warming up, and practicing in a singer’s lifetime. They take lessons, sing in choirs and practice on their own for many hours a week.

“Between lessons and outside practices, I practice 30 minutes each day for six days,” says MSUD Music major David Majerus.

These singers all want the same thing — performing to the best of their ability.
To prepare for these auditions and performances, they practice and learn many different types and genres of music. This way they will be ready and well prepared for any type of audition that may come their way.

They learn music from Broadway, such as “Music of the Night” and “Think of Me” from the Broadway musical Phantom of the Opera, to prepare for auditions in Broadway. Of course they also learn music from pop artists like Adele, and Celine Dion, because a lot of young singers aspire to be a pop music star.

Jazz is also becoming increasingly popular, so it is important for singers to learn Jazz standards such as “Autumn Leaves” and “My Funny Valentine.” While classical isn’t a popular form of music, it is the most important. It teaches the the most technical values of singing. Singers tend to learn songs like “O Mio Babbino Caro” and “Habanera.” Besides learning these genres for a certain audition or performance, learning multiple genres makes a well-rounded singer.

“I believe in a balanced repertoire of classical, Broadway, jazz, and popular music,” says Theresa Derr, the owner of the Derr Voice Studio. “A well-trained singer should be able to sing just about anything.

To be a good singer it doesn’t necessarily mean just having a pretty voice, and learning to sing a song well. To be a talented singer one needs to also be a good musician.
To be a good musician a singer needs to learn about notes, like their value and pitch. They also need to learn various symbols, and concepts of written music to be successful.
It is also important for them to site read music. Sighting reading music is when someone glances at the sheet of music for the first time, and then performs it.

Sometimes for auditions singers will show up, and the director will hand them a piece of music, and expect them to read it and perform it right on the spot. It also happens with careers in music.

After all this hard work of preparing for auditions and careers it usually pays off. Singers will make a choir, a Broadway show, a recording deal, or another performance they want to be in. Sometimes though they don’t make the spot they wanted, even though they worked really hard for it.

“When I didn’t get into Troubadours (a prestigious choir at Littleton High School) my junior year I was so disappointed and angry,” says Brittany Newell, a singer and musician. I’ve never practiced so much in my whole life.”

They have to take their disappointments, and learn from the experience, and apply it to the next audition they have.

“Every week I tried to listen to new choirs to hear the blending and that’s how I learned to not sound so big! I started quieting myself down but using the same amount of air,” says Newell. “I always psychologically thought I needed to be loud in order to be heard and be special but toning myself down taught me a much needed respect for the whole group and team work and how beautiful a group can sound when you can’t hear a single individual voice.”

Brittany applied this to her next audition, and was able to make Troubadours her senior year. It’s all about practicing and applying what a singer learns, for them to be successful.

Five Vocal Ranges:
Soprano: The highest singing voice of women or boys and formerly of castrati; also : a person having this voice.
Alto: The second highest voice part in a 4-part chorus.
Tenor: The voice part next to the lowest in a 4-part chorus.
Baritone: A male singing voice of medium compass between bass and tenor; also : a person having this voice.
Bass: The lowest voice part in a 4-part chorus.
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

About Ashley King

I have lived in Colorado for most of my life, and love living here. I'm a student at Metro working toward my degree in Creative Writing, with a minor in journalism.

View all posts by Ashley King

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