Can I learn how to sing?

If you can talk, you can sing. Singing is a completely natural activity; our voices are designed for both speaking and singing (in ancient human tribes, everyone sang, not just a few “professional” singers). Singing uses basically the same skills as speech, but for singing we use our breath differently, hold sounds longer, and use a wider range of tones. These skills, as well as a practical knowledge of the tone and rhythm patterns that are used in music, can be developed with training and practice.

Do I need formal training?

It definitely helps. Formal training, focuses on techniques and sounds that show you how to use your voice effectively, and prevent you from making the most common mistakes in singing, such as breathing poorly and closing your throat (e.g. by letting your larynx rise up). These carefully selected sounds, which have been in use for centuries around the world, ensure that your muscles are coordinated in the most useful ways for singing. By practicing these sounds and building up the muscle memory, it becomes easier to sing other sounds as well and you have more freedom in different parts of your vocal range, such as when you’re singing high notes.

Do I need an agent or manager to become a singer?

No, not for session singing. If you are also an actor, a voiceover artist, or an independent recording artist, you’ll probably need to look into getting an agent or manager for those areas of work. But session singing work in L.A. is almost all gotten through referrals from a variety of music business people, including other union singers, all of whom can also be vocal contractors, depending on the particular job.

What is it like to be a professional singer?

It’s a lot of hustle and heartbreak. It’s also glorious fun when you’re successful. Over and over you will hear from people that the art of singing is incomparable, wonderful, compelling. It’s the business of singing that can be hateful.

 The up side: you get to sing some of the greatest music the world has ever known. You get to work with wonderful, creative, interesting people. You get to travel. People you don’t know make over you. There’s a certain amount of glamour, fancy parties and beautiful locales. You’re your own boss.

The down side: You may find yourself at the mercy of mean or unscrupulous people who rank higher in the business than you. You spend a lot of time on the road, living expensively out of a suitcase and not spending time with your loved ones. Fancy parties stop being so glamorous and begin to feel like work after you’ve been to a few of them.

How do I find auditions?

Researching and arranging auditions is a vital skill for every singer. Of course it’s easier if you have an agent, but until you do, you need to know how to fend for yourself.

Chances are, as a young artist, your first auditions will mostly be for pay-to-sings and Young Artist Programs. You may also have mainstage auditions for small local companies, and others for chorus or church jobs.

New York City is the mecca for auditions. Many YAPs, big regional opera houses, and smaller companies make an annual pilgrimage to hear singers there – though not as many as in past years. YAPs and pay-to-sing programs often tour their auditions to major cities, and some accept video auditions, at least for preliminary rounds.  However, if you don’t live near NYC, chances are at some point you will need to travel there to audition.