How to handle this new singer?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    We're working a new singer into the band. She has no professional experience whatsoever. But, she has one of the most awesome voices I've ever heard. And, she has near perfect pitch (but she doesn't know it). Question, for those of you who have some considerable experience with singers. What's the best way to handle this situation? I'm thinking, saturate her with cover tunes for a while, till she gets comfortable with her voice. Get her out in front of an audience as quickly and as often as possible. At some point everyone will know when she's ready for the studio. Any thoughts?
  2. Going from singing in practice, to singing in public, is a big jump. I think some people could probably make the transition into the studio easier than they could adapt to the stage, others adapt more easily to the stage than to the studio....Getting here on stage would be good, in small baby steps to get her confidence up.

    I've seen singers come out who had absolutely the most pristine voices in the world, but they couldn't cut it as a singer in a band. Good luck.
  3. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Interesting topic.....

    Singing is strange in a way; someone can be a good singer from a techinical standpoint, but still sound like an "ametuer". (for example, people you see at kareoke night, or students giving solo performances at high school chorus recitals)
  4. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA

    Excellent point, thanks nashvillebill, that's exactly the kind of input I was looking for. If I'm hearing you correctly, you're saying don't toss her right into the pool, let her get her feet wet first. Hmmm.... I want to help this woman, 'cause she likes to sing and she's a natural talent, and I wouldn't want to do anything to turn her off from that. "Baby steps". I hear you. We have her working with a more experienced singer at the moment, to get her comfortable with the mic and that kind of thing. Don't want to make things too complicated for her. She's not the type that would suffer from stage fright, but she is the type that might get overwhelmed by too much complexity. Hopefully we can set it up so she only has one (or a few) things to think about at a time. My feeling at this point is, her voice will take care of itself, it's the knowledge of how to use the mic, and etc, that she needs to come up to speed on. That's why I was thinking "cover tunes", that would eliminate at least one element of additional complexity from the equation. If she's singing stuff she's already (more or less) familiar with, then she could focus on the presentation aspects of being up on a stage, and the one or two technical aspects that have to do with the mic, the levels, making the transition between lead and background vocals from one song to the next, that kind of thing. I completely agree with what I'm hearing you say, which is not to push her too far too fast. Great input. Thanks! :)
  5. point out to her listen to the tempos and dynamics of the bands sound, so that she is aware of time. Jam with her with a acoustic guitar and jam on some covers. If you want to play live, make shure you reherse alot so she gets confident, then, maybe do a party gig with all your close friends to get her used to singing in front of people. Its great to nail it behind closed doors but its a different story playing on stage in front of strangers. Don't rush it, and build confidence.
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    We had the same situation once. All we had to teach her was that it was her job to wind up all the cords. She never knew otherwise.
  7. TVD


    Jul 14, 2004
    It's really hard to day, you might have a diamond in the rough, or she may be a flop. I've seen it go both ways. You mentioned that she's not the type to suffer from stage fright, which is a good thing. I guess the jury's out on how she will handle things live, esp when everything dosen't go "right". Can you tell if she has good natural meter or not? To me someones timing and delivery is as important as pitch just about. Do you think she'll have any front-person ability and charisma? Again, that's very important for the singer to have in most instances. Does she have a "look"? Does her voice "project"? I've heard great technical singers who can't project. and it dosen't really work in a live band setting. It's hard to say how her voice will hold up, if she's not singing right, she may blow it out real quick. If that happens, she'll either need to learn quick how to use her voice, or she'll just keep blowing it out, again i've seen that go both ways. Another thing is how bad does she want it? Being in a band is rough and tough, and she may get in it, and not like it once the "glamour"(?) wears off, or she may be a real trooper. I've seen that go both ways too. But i can certainly see your guarded optomisim with her. You're going to have alot of patience with her probably, as she's def a "project". I can almost always watch a band and tell if someone is really "green" up there, she'll probably exude some of that for awhile, unless she's a real natural onstage. Good look with it. I'll be curious to see how she progressess. Trent
  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I'd get her vocal lessons to make sure she is doing things right from the start. I like the cover idea, no pressure and she knows how the tune is suppose to sound, it will be good practice.
  9. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    How much actual singing experience does she have? Sounds to me like if she has good pitch, but doesn't know it, she clearly has to work on her ear training.

    That's not a requirement to playing out, of course, but it is definitely a requirement for being a competent musician - if you can't hear when you're off, that can obviously train-wreck a song pretty quickly.

    I think the cover tune idea is a good one - getting comfortable with singing publicly is a big hurdle for a lot of new singers. I know a few singers that started out that way, doing the karaoke circuit, and they eventually realized they were able to do more. Still, almost all of them neglected the fundamentals, such as ear training, having good rhythm etc, which could become a real problem down the road. Some lessons would probably be helpful for her, so long as the teacher is good. A sucky vocal teacher can ruin everything you're trying to accomplish.

    I'm not sure if there is a certain "point" at which someone KNOWS they are ready for the studio. Knowing the material like the back of your hand is a good start, but it's hard to predict how people will fare in their first studio venture.
  10. Does she go to shows regularly? Is she comfortable hanging in types of places you regularly play? Can she move without falling over? Does she develop and nervous twitch or puke all over her shoes when in public?

    Stage presence takes practice. In my mind, if you can't get and keep and audience's attention, you're worthless as a performer (vocals, bass...magician...freak). Practicing singing covers is all well and good, but if she hops up onstage in Gap clothes from 1991 and has her hands in her pockets, then you're done as a band.

    The biggest key would be to get her watching other lead singers. Pro's and amateurs alike. Make her absorb Gwen Stefani and Debby Harry and Stevie Nicks and Joan Jett and Christina Aguilera and all the singers in your town that are convincing.

    Also, encourage her to watch guys, because they exude a different energy than women onstage, but the best women singers build on that masculine energy as well. Convince her to watch Zach de la Rocha and Eddie Vedder and Roger Daltry and Robert Plant and anybody that affects YOU as a listener/watcher. Don't just tell her that she needs to do this, teach her how. Take her to shows, rent her dvd's, and go to shows where you know the singer will suck and explain to her WHY he/she sucks.

    It's not about learning how to sing, but learning how to be a singer.