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GUEST BLOG: Everyone Can Sing

Writer: Rachel Lynes

The most common question I get asked as a West End vocal coach is, ‘can anybody sing?’ 

My answer is always, ‘yes, everybody can,’ but there are some restrictions that mean that not everybody will. 

The quality of our singing voice, and whether or not we’ll have a successful career as a professional singer, is down to multiple factors: The first is the quality of our ‘instrument.’ By that, I mean, the elasticity of your vocal folds, and the size of your resonating spaces – things you cannot change! For instance, did you know Idina Menzel has one of the largest vocal tracts (the area from your vocal folds to your lips). This mega resonating space boosts the vibrations from her vocal folds hence her amazing power and tone. 

After this, factors get complex. There’s your technique, of course: ‘how you play your instrument.’ and ‘how you practice.’ For example, we can be more like Idina by creating more space inside our mouths. We can do exercises to increase the flexibility of our Vocal folds, to stretch the muscles and ligaments. We can learn how to optimise our bodies to ‘support’ the breath, or release muscle tension. 

Even pitch (or singing out of tune) can be helped by improving the bad habits that get in the way, or by using brilliant apps when you can visually observe your own tuning. 

But, there’s more! Even a singer with a world-class instrument and tip-top technique can be hindered because of many other factors: 

Firstly, there’s your confidence level: nerves affect your breath and cause muscle tension in the body. There’s your upbringing, the accent you use, how your family interacted, whether you hold in emotion, or release it, whether you express your point of view or hold it in. There’s also your own approach to practise: how hard do you work? Do you keep going when you have a knockback? This industry is tough and will you find resilience within yourself to withstand the challenges?

Added to this, we have the biggest one: a barrier that unfortunately prevents so many people from getting off the starting line. The barrier is circumstance. It is often financial. A lottery of birth. We can see from the intakes at the leading drama schools that most students came from white middle-class backgrounds. I myself was of that privilege. 

My single mum found finances to pay for two years at Arts Educational Schools Tring, which enabled me to win a scholarship at ArtsEd, London, then to have a showcase, to find a great agent, who got me my first West End Job and the West End jobs after that. I had a decent instrument and worked hard but I know it was my privilege that enabled me to go all the way. I know this and I don’t take it lightly. 

These jobs – and the experience I gained – led me to running The Sing Space. An affordable, accessible – yet world-class – online membership for singers. My network is full of brilliant and well-known performers, writers, casting directors, coaches, and industry folk with who I can connect with the current generation of singers.

Our membership includes a daily Vocal Gym™ with Vocal workouts led by West End coaches, running morning and evening, plus incredible seminars and masterclasses with industry leaders and voice teachers. 

In just a year, it has grown to 350 members and a further community of 15,000 but, since I launched it last year. I realised that our members have a challenge in common. 

Within our community are performers who range from well-known names to amateurs and drama students, yet they all have a shared frustration. 

They are frustrated that it’s nearly impossible to be seen for jobs if you are not with ‘that’ top agent, or ‘that’ biggest drama school. From the perspective of a casting director, we can see how hard it is, too. They need to hire a space, it takes a long time to meet performers. If they are seeing one person every ten minutes, that’s still only six performers an hour, or 30-40 per day… when there are thousands of potential talents to meet.

The casting directors are also freelance. They have to provide certainty of ability to the creative team and that certainty often comes from having come from a ‘tested source.’

So what can we do?

At The Sing Space, we’re creating new, online, democratised casting opportunities that are available to all.

Twice a year, we run a 12-week, ‘16 bar challenge,’ that gives you two songs a week to learn (a different genre a week) and upload to a private group. Thirty performers are then picked to sing in an industry showcase.

And, next week, we have a free showcase opportunity for singers to showcase their work in front of seven

 thousand people on @thesingspace Facebook group to be in with a chance of performing live for Tony award-winning writer, Laurence O’Keefe and Heathers Producer and Casting Director, Paul Taylor Mills.

It is open to all. All you need to do is sign up at the link and then join the free Facebook group, ready to upload a video on Monday Oct 24th. We’ll guide you through with vocal tips and support and we can’t wait to see your work!!

https://vocalgym.thesingspace.com/heather-s-industry-week

 

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The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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