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Be It, Feel It, Love It, Live It

Be It, Feel It, Love It, Live It

Written by Diana Yampolsky

In this article, I would like to talk about the true dedication that is required to become a singer. What dedication you may ask? How is my life going to change? Let me try to express my point of view with regards to this subject. In many ways, your life will be much like that of an athlete or ballerina: a 100% dedication to your art. Several years ago I saw a movie called "The Mirrors" which was about a pair of ballet dancers. In one of the scenes in the movie, the dancing couple approached the director of a theater with regards to attaining a performance contract. After interviewing them and deciding to hire them, he handed them a contract that did not represent a sufficient amount of money for the couple to accept it. The male dancer asked the female dancer how much she weighed and her reply was 100 pounds! Then the male dancer turned to the theater director and said,"You see, sir, I have to lift my partner six times and this adds up to 600 lbs in total. The money that you are offering us is not enough!" The director at this point could not disagree with him and offered them a more suitable contract. Now let's suppose for a second that the female dancer would decide to go around the corner and eat a piece of cake. So what you may ask? She is just a human being, right? Not quite. In this instance, she would be taking the risk that she would be adding an extra pound or more to her body weight. What will happen? A couple of things. As you remember the male dancer has to lift her six times each performance and that added up to six hundred pounds. If she puts one pound on, he will have to lift 606 pounds and this was not a part of their professional agreement. Moreover, she is risking the possibility that he will drop her and even injure her because he is not accustomed to having to lift any weight other than 100 pounds at a time. The moral of the story was that she could not do anything she wanted to. She could not eat a piece of cake or any other fatty foods. Nor could she stay out all night partying if she needed to be rested for the next day's performance or practice. The same is true for a singer. In order to be successful at your craft, you have to realize and accept that you are not the same as everyone else; your profession demands a certain lifestyle and requires a certain degree of commitment and sacrifice.

The truth is that most people either don't understand what it takes to be a professional singer or aren't willing to offer the level of commitment necessary. Too many people think that all they have to do is open their mouth and sing and that will automatically make them a professional singer. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would like to identify four areas in which you have to be committed in order to become a truly professional singer: physical conditioning, vocal training, emotional openness and ensuring that you are doing everything for the right reasons.

As I have mentioned in other articles, being a professional singer is very similar to being a professional athlete and it demands a certain amount of physical fitness. Do you have to have huge muscles and not an ounce of body fat? No, but you should aim to keep as lean a physique as possible and should have strong abdominal muscles in order to be able to give physical support to the sound you are producing. More importantly, you need to maintain a fairly strict diet. Love milk? Well, as a singer you really need to avoid diary products - as they clog you up with mucous which is definitely the opposite of what you want to achieve. In fact, any of the minerals and vitamins that you have been getting from dairy products can be found in other foods. I know it's hard ? some of you probably love cheese or ice cream - but you will have to give it up for the sake of your goal. Keep your body clean, free of mucous and your voice will reflect exactly that.

Another serious commitment that you must make if you wish to become a professional singer is a commitment to learn how to properly use your voice. The obvious reason is that you will be a better singer and will learn how to play "your instrument" in the same manner as any other musician playing their instruments. The other obvious reason is to learn how to safely use your voice in order to prevent yourself from ever damaging it due to incorrect technique. As I've mentioned in most other fields, training is a prerequisite. If you are a professional or aspiring basketball player, figure skater, ballerina or sprinter you have a coach who assists you in being the best you can be. The same should be true for singers as well. If you are truly committed to becoming a professional singer, professional coaching is a necessity and not a luxury. After all, if you want to become a professional engineer, you will have to go to university for several years. By the time you receive your degree, you will have probably spent at least 30 - 50 thousand dollars. But you are also hoping that once you find a job, you will make back your investment within your first year of working and for the rest of your life you will be gaining a pure profit from your education. Why should it be any different for a professional singer? The word professional implies trained, educated, and certified. Is this worth your investment? Definitely!

There is another important commitment that many aspiring singers are often very apprehensive about: exposing their inner selves to the outside world. I always tell my students that to be a complete performer, one of most important pieces of the puzzle, if not the most important, is having the ability and willingness to share who you are as a person with the audience. All the greatest singers make an emotional connection with their audience through their singing. When I take on a new student I start out by teaching them the technical aspects of singing. Once they have mastered vocal technique and no longer have to consciously worry about staying in key, etc., I work with them on developing the emotional component of their singing. When this happens I actually feel like I am working as both a vocal coach and psychologist. This can be very difficult because a large portion of the population subverts their natural charisma and personality and it can be very hard to "free a person's spirit"! Furthermore, you do not only need to share yourself with the audience, but also have something worth sharing. Singers need to lead inspired lives. Pull yourself away from the computer at least long enough that you might fall in love or get your heart broken or develop a close friendship.

The final commitment that you need to make should be relatively easy for you: putting singing above everything else because you love it. Be obsessed with it, strive to get better, and perform every performance like you are performing in front of thousands of adoring fans. Furthermore, sing for the right reasons and not because of a desire for money or fame. Only one in a million becomes a Celine Dion or George Michael regardless of talent. For this reason, you need to be doing it purely because you love it. Of course, it's a wonderful thing if you do sell millions of records and I am in no way trying to convince you to not strive for commercial success. But if you truly love singing and are committed to being the best singer you can be, it will be reflected in your performance and will actually enhance your chances of selling millions of your CD's.