I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t hate it if my day to day job involved flying around the world, performing to adoring fans and getting paid millions. I wouldn’t hate that.
There’s something about that existence that is attractive to all of us. That something is validation.
We all require validation on different levels and in different ways and it isn’t just me that thinks so. American psychologist Abraham Maslow features validation and other elements of esteem in his hierarchy of human needs. And he really knows what he’s talking about.
Why do I care so much about the ‘why’ of wanting to be a superstar? Because, the need to be validated sits quite comfortably on a rollercoaster of emotions, often controlled by the people doing the validating. The entire performance world, and singing, in particular, is built on validation and judgement and I believe it’s fundamental to acknowledge this point before jumping head first into a singing career.
The nature of the beast
We can’t escape the truth that, generally, every note that a singer sings, becomes a topic of debate for all those that hear it. It’s the nature of the beast. A singer is essentially saying, “this is what I have to offer… what do you think?”
Due to this, life as a singer isn’t always a happy place.
There are strategies to help the singer deal with this truth, but it goes without saying that singers need to be made of tough stuff. And this is why I believe facilitating strong character and self esteem are paramount for a successful singing career. We should give these attributes as much attention as learning to sing the high notes.
Okay, so we have our work ethic locked down, and self esteem in check. What’s next?
There are a number of career options in contemporary singing, and in this post, I’ll outline two. Despite being very different in application, these career paths both have a similar expectancy level for technical ability.
Becoming the next Justin Bieber (Solo Artist):
Some may say that if you produce your own material, it really doesn’t matter what it sounds like. They may also say ‘if the artist is happy, then that’s all that matters.’ Although there is truth in these statements, in reality, if your child wants a sustainable career producing hit songs, people have to buy them. With that in mind, little Britney may have to conform to a few unwritten rules.
This starts with singing in tune, producing a comfortable tone and having flexibility in terms of vocal range. These three elements are what you should be looking out for when initially analysing your child’s ability to sing. The great thing is that these foundations can be easily taught over time with some hard work and focus.
The next step would then be to start developing the creative side, writing songs, learning a supporting instrument or collaborating with other musicians.
Becoming the next Elphaba (Musical Theatre):
Similarly to the solo singer, a musical theatre singer needs to start with the foundations of the voice (as detailed above). That being said, you could say that the musical theatre singer needs to understand their instrument on a deeper level in order to meet the demands of the job.
This is because, unlike the solo artist, Musical Theatre performers have to sing like the character in question and be adaptable enough to change for different roles and shows. The songs should be performed as they are written with little to no room for creative interpretation. This clearly means that the singer has to have the ability to comfortably produce many different sounds across many different notes.
The next step would then be to engage in amateur performances and auditions in order to gain experience in that domain.
Start with character!
If you or your child want to invest in a singing career, it’s wise to start with building a solid character and work ethic. You can use the foundations (singing in tune, comfortable tone and range flexibility) as a guide to measuring progression and working towards gaining the technical skills to build your singing business.
If these foundations continue to improve and your child continues to enjoy the journey, then you may be onto something.
Who said singing was easy?