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— How to sing in a choir – How to sing backup vocals.
Sorry Choir Directors. I had to do this.
After years of singing with show choirs, gospel choirs, and opera choruses, I have come to this conclusion: While singing in choirs is a great way to keep your voice active, it is not great for the development of the solo voice.
In fact, it is detrimental.
Keep in mind, the director of these groups is not interested in your individual solo voice, but instead he/she is interested in the overall sound. I have sung in choirs with a director that went so far to maintain a blend that he had us practically at a whisper!
And of course, there is the other extreme which says, ‘If it is not loud, it is wrong’.
When entering choirs please be cognizant of what the director is trying to achieve, and do what is easiest for you. For me, it has always been 1st alto. Not that I could not sing soprano, it was just much more effort to:
1. Sing that high consistently over a two — plus hour period of time
2. Try to blend my heavy soprano tone with all the other ‘lighter voiced’ sopranos.
So my texture and tessitura was better suited for alto in most settings.
*The only setting that my full lyric voice fits perfectly is in the opera choruses!
If you find you are consistently hoarse after rehearsal, you are singing wrong! Ask your director to move you. Otherwise, you’ll need to find another singing group to which your voice is an asset.
Singing Careers have always been thought of as being difficult to achieve and only for dreamers who dare to put their livelihood on the line! However, there are a great number of freelance jobs as well as proper career paths that a singer may take, and it is not difficult to earn a good living as a singer!
Career No. 1: PROFESSIONAL RECORDING ARTISTE OR SINGER
This is a singing career that has great rewards, but is usually only available to a select few who are able to influence others with their personality, their looks, their singing, or their unique musical style. The road to becoming a singer is a rough and tough one, and only those who truly have the determination and the passion to become a singer will be able to make it to the end and achieve great success!
Most professional recording artistes would be able to make a living, and often also branch out into fashion, modeling, product or brand endorsement and even art and painting too! In order to make it big as a singer, one would need to have a great team of musicians to work with, as well as great production crew to create the bestselling records!
Career No. 2: FULL-TIME SINGER
Apart from the professional recording artistes and singers, there are also independent singers who are not signed to any record label, and who perform full-time at various locations in their country or in the world for a living! If you wish to have a singing career as a full-time singer, you would need to gain experience and perform at various venues like local pubs or cafes in order to build up a following or fan base. These would be the people who will support you wherever you perform, and also spread good word-of-mouth feedback regarding your performances to their friends! Some full-time singers also eventually become professional recording artistes too!
Career No. 3: BACKUP HARMONY SINGER
There are also some singing careers that allow you to be part of the production or support crew. As a backup singer, you would do recordings for the various backup harmony parts that each song may have, in order to make the song sound full and colourful! You would need to have a strong sense of harmony, and be able to sing various harmony parts easily and on pitch, because a song may have 5 – 10 harmony parts or more!
There are also those who perform live as a backup singer, being part of the backup chorus that is often on stage together with the lead singer at concerts or performances! These backup singers often travel together with the lead singer to various countries, and may even possess singing abilities that may surpass the lead singer!
Career No. 4: SINGING INSTRUCTOR
For those who do not really aspire for the limelight, and who derive their joy from teaching about singing and music to others, a career as a singing instructor is a great way to do what you love, and still earn a decent living too! Good singing instructors are in great demand, especially with the rise of various singing competitions like American Idol, World Idol and so on. The best singing instructors can even earn up to US$300/h for conducting individual singing lessons!