Even though I have known this for a long time, every once in a while something happens which helps you see things in a different way or see things more clearly. This happened to me this week. We are living in a time in the music world right now when everything is about style, not about good singing. However, how can you really have style if you are not getting the notes first? How can a musician add style to his/her playing if they are struggling just to get the notes? You can’t. It is impossible. A musician must first get the notes, then once the notes become easy he/she can add style. The same is true of singers. In order to have good style the singer must first be able to produce all of the pitches accurately and easily.
The process is: #1, Technique, which is to say the ability to get as many notes as possible easily and comfortably without force, strain or inconsistency. #2, add style, which is really just adding emotion or feeling to the notes. Tell the story well. And #3, perform the song effectively. Present the song with good stage presence by allowing yourself to “get into” the song and not be self conscious. Once all the notes are easily produced steps #2 and #3 are easy because the singer has confidence that they will sound good because they are not afraid of being able to “get” the notes, so he/she can focus on delivering the song.
One of the biggest problems for our students is that they are trying so hard to “sound good” and sing with style (and imitate their favorite artist, whose pitches by the way are probably getting fixed in the studio with auto-tune) that they are not taking the time to be able to produce all of the notes easily and accurately first. Singers must first not worry about how they sound, but in getting their air and muscle in balance and saying a good vowel so that they are getting all of the notes easily and in good pitch. Once this is accomplished they can then easily add emotion and volume and be impressive.