What Singing Lessons Can We Learn From “The Voice”?
Love it or hate it (personally I’ve been glued to it) “The Voice” highlights some fundamental elements of singing and what it means to be a performing artist.
Here are 3 singing lessons we can learn and how the Pros approach these singing issues:
1. The person that sings loudest isn’t necessarily the most engaging.
It’s easy to think when we sing louder we’ll come across as more powerful and exciting. However there’s a point where we tip into driving our voice and it sounds constricted and contrived. When this happens we no longer sing freely and spontaneously, with fire and passion. It can sound to those listening, and feel to us, like what we’re singing about we don’t really believe.
What the Pros do:
- Singing with less physical effort – instead concentrate on building the intensity of feelings in the song.
- Add more variety into the lyrics and rhythm. Build the “dramatic arc” of song’s storyline, so the listeners go on the journey with you.
- Take more emotional risks rather than using vocal effects and singing loudly.
2. Having a powerful, in-tune and flexible voice is only part of the whole picture.
It’s so fascinating to see those brave artists taking risks and exploring different ways of singing on live TV. Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much. What’s the difference?
Have you noticed some artists just don’t connect with you even though vocally they sing the song impeccably, whereas others you forgive pitchy notes and mistakes, or don’t even notice these, because you “just love them”?
Being able to reach all the notes, sing in pitch and have enough breath to get through each phase is just the first step. Next it’s about bending the melody and rhythm into whatever emotional shape the song spontaneously needs.
What makes the difference (and keeps singers in the competition) is their willingness to “let go of looking good”. Only then can they let those exciting spontaneous moments flow through them.
As the world-famous cellist Pablo Casals said shortly before his death, when an interviewer asked him how his style had changed as he got older: “I’ve had to let go of perfection in order to have expression.”
Sometimes we hold on so tightly to the idea of “singing well” that the song seems bland and unexciting.
What the Pros do:
- Once you’ve mastered the melody and lyrics, experiment with getting inside what the song really means.
- Try singing as if you’re talking the lyrics to someone and it’s really important they understand how you feel.
- Take a risk. Be so intent on getting the meaning across that you let the song take you in a new direction, you haven’t tried before.
3. Most of the time some people will love what we do and some won’t.
The most exciting artists are willing to be themselves, quirks and all.
There will always be some people who like us and some who scratch their heads and don’t get us at all.
The more we can accept that only some people will get us and some wont, the more we can accept ourselves for who we are. We learn to trust that who we naturally are is “enough”. Singing from our unique self ignites a magic when we sing.
What the Pros do:
- Recognise your unique style and vocal strengths.
- Make each song your own rather than copying the original artist’s interpretation.
- Sing from the raw unmasked part of yourself (rather than putting on vocal effects to sound as if you’re feeling the song).