Sample Chapter from Singing Excellence
Chapter 1 --
The True Power of the Singer
like so many others, was always interested in singing, but I felt I
really didn't have a chance. I didn't believe my voice was good
enough. How many people do you know who think the same thing
and don't even try to sing in public? I had a classmate in
school who had a fabulous voice, but, for whatever reason, was
extremely resistant to pursuing her musical love and talent.
I was wrong, not about my voice, but about my whole concept of what
singing a song is all about. My voice, it turned out, is quite good,
only I didn't know how to use it properly. And, even more, even if it
would not have been so strong, it would've not made a difference. You
see, I learned a lesson which has changed my whole perspective. I
learned that you don't need a great voice to be a great singer.
Singing with power is something else
concept does not hold true in the world of opera, perhaps, but in the
pop and even theatrical world it is not only true, but it has been
proven over and over again. Yes, the singer must be capable of
singing on pitch and not be grating on the ear, but success does not
require the pipes of a Céline Dion or a Sammy Davis Jr.. One
of the greatest singers of all time had a voice that rather resembled
a frog. I can listen to him all day, his name is Louis
Armstrong. What a wonderful world! How did he do it?
it by utilizing this concept, that a great singer does not need a
great voice. What does he need? What should she work on most? Let's
explore some fundamentals.
You Must Touch Their Hearts
singer performs for an audience. Audiences usually consist of people
(although some professors in college may lecture to a room full of
recorders). People do not listen just with their ears. They
listen with their ears, their brains, and, most importantly, their
hearts. If a singer touches the hearts of her listeners, she has
achieved success. How does she do that?
beings are always fascinated by a story. They love to hear about
other people, to know their feelings and struggles, to be in suspense
as to what happens to them. They want to identify with the person
they watch, help them in their battles, cry with them, rejoice with
theater, a great actor knows how to get the audience to suspend its
natural disbelief and become involved in the story. How else can we
understand how, for example, Tom Hanks can make us worried, sad,
elated and scared stiff in any movie? We've seen him a million times
before, we know he's just an actor named Hanks. He is absolutely not
an astronaut on Apollo 13! How does he do it?
uses the skills and techniques of acting to get us to suspend our
disbelief and connect with him. In other words, he tells us a story.
Stories fascinate us from our youngest days. We can't get enough
of them. Why?
Why Is Acting so Powerful?
it appeals to our deepest feelings and needs. Actors touch our sense
of vulnerability, our sense of humanity, our need for love, for
safety, for being alive. Dead people need nothing, they are static.
They tell no tales. Living people need to struggle, to succeed. They
are always in suspense -- what will happen next, what will life
connecting to the stories of living people, all of these elements
come to life. And the more the actor is honest, is himself going
through an unpredictable experience, where we really don't know
what's going to happen, the more we are engaged. If tragedy strikes,
we can really feel that hurt all the more. If the little girl's horse
wins the race, we will all cheer and cry at the same time, and mean
watch a great movie that you've seen before. Think about it! You've
already seen this film, why are you still sitting on the edge of your
seat, holding your breath? Here is an amazingly subtle point, and it
is the key to this whole art. It is not merely the experience of the
external story -- who said what, who got killed, married, fired,
etc... -- it is the internal story of the actor.
is the power of storytelling, sharing the story of the humanity of
the character and how the actor feels about it and experiences it. If
we don't know how we're going to feel about something, it means we've
opened ourselves to unpredictable possibilities. Not knowing
is the secret.
The Essence of Singing Excellence
so, a new concept of a singer arises, one which uses that
storytelling power to truly move an audience of people. It's
not about sounds, it's about story. Sounds without story are
dead, predictable, stagnant. Songs with a story, and the honest
inner story of the singer, where he and we don't know what will
happen next, are the keys of greatness in performance.
more honesty, vulnerability, humanity of the singer that we see, the
more we make a covenant of connectedness with them. Just watch Louis
Armstrong singing (croaking?) " What a Wonderful World." Just see the true joy in his heart that completely lights up his
face! It's an amazingly powerful moment.
regularly attend a Broadway class of actors and actresses who are at
the highest levels of performance. As they work on their materials,
singing every type of genre, the most poignant moments are those when
something deeply personal to the performer shines through into the
song. We all get many a lump in our throats on a weekly basis. And
these are all in songs that we've heard each other sing many times
book is dedicated to sharing concepts, practical techniques and
exercises, and other ways to shatter the blocks to singing greatness.
Our goal is to become great singing storytellers, but in the
process we may accomplish even more than that. This journey may
help change us as human beings as well, and that is really
from chapter one of Singing Excellence, by Seth Lutnick.
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