I am 23 years old with no musical experience, besides 5th grade choir and me trying to learn to sing on my own. Music is my passion though and it's my dream to be able to do it for a living. So is it too late for to learn about music and learn to sing? I signed up for a foundations of music class at my college. :) What are some tips on getting started now vocal wise?
It's not too late at all! The obvious answer to this question is to practice. A great way to practice singing is to sing along with songs that you love. During my initial foray into the wonderful world of singing, I used to extensively practice my singing while driving.
If you have access to an instrument this will greatly aid your vocal abilities since you will be able to accompany yourself, practice scales, and learn more about music simultaneously. I would suggest piano or guitar.
If you can find a good vocal teacher in your area, that may prove beneficial as well. You'll become a better singer if you develop good habits such as breathing, posture, enunciation etc. Not to say that these things are impossible to learn alone, but it does help if you can find a good teacher that adapts to your learning style. Youtube has many how to videos for all sorts of music lessons. It would be helpful to look around for some singing technique videos and see what you can learn from there.
In a nutshell, practice, practice, practice! Pick up a guitar or piano and start learning that as well. Practice singing scales and learn a little bit of music theory. Taking the foundations of music class in college is a great first step, but don't stop there. Take music theory, and look into possibly hiring a vocal coach for a short while. The most important things however are willpower and determination, with those 2 attributes it's never too late to begin! Good luck on your vocal journey!
practice Practice PRACTICE!
You are not suppose to sing a lot because you can injure your voice easier than, say, your hand. But if you practice smart and properly you can get a lot done and make a lot of progress.
Don't overdo it. You don't start running a marathon if you can't walk around the block. You can injure your voice but it is not as easy as most claim. Vocal nodes tend to be the main issue people talk about but they are not all that common except for people that sing a lot... and they do go away with rest in most cases(unless you really keep doing the same stupid stuff that cause it... like repetitively dropping a brick on your foot... eventually your foot will get infected and have to be amputated).
There are basic low tension exercises that you can use. You tube has a ton of them(in fact, you should have went there before asking such a question as it has all the info you want. I forget who, but there is a guy from NY that has a ton of vids and answers many of the question and is pretty well informed, unlike most "teachers" who don't know shit and perpetuate fallacious vocal science. Humming is a great tool because it minimizes the pressure on the vocal chords... so you can do a lot of it for a long time without ever really over doing it.
Practice your arps and scales as these help you learn to identify harmonic coherence quickly(eventually you need to be near instantaneous). Essentially you want to learn to sing the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, etc over any given chord at any time. Of course, this isn't "singing" per se but will help you be a better singer.
Learn to feel it. You do this by simply paying attention to your body. If you struggle you are either doing it wrong or are not ready for it. Most everyone wants to jump out of the gate and start sprinting as hard and fast as possible but this almost always results in failure. Start off easy. Sing comfortably and build off a good foundation. It will take time, accept it and you will get where you want to go.
There is a lot of disinformation about vocal practice and singing in general. Use your brain. It if doesn't make any sense it probably is not correct or you have some 'learning to do.
Don't sing soft. It is more natural to sing with intensity rather than trying to keep the neighbors from hearing you. You can actually do more damage trying to sing soft than loud in some cases(loud doesn't mean shouting but something above normal conversions). Remember as a kid how you would create a pretty big loud tone and project it, sort of the same thing... but it should hurt or stress out your throat. If it does, either you are doing it wrong or not read(go back to 2 and then try again, then back to 2, etc)
Find songs you can sing to and start singing. They should be easy. Pace yourself and pay attention to what is going on.
If you really pay attention to your body and be objective about what is going on, you can make a lot of progress quickly and learn better. Singing IS EASY! It is more about learning to hone in on using your body properly and you do this by paying attention to how it feels when you "sing". If you sing and it just kills your through, your doing it wrong or, again, need to tone it down.
What eventually happens is, you sing and it feels wrong... so you tweak it a little and try something a little different and it feels wrong... you do it again and it feels better... NOW you are going in the right direction. Keep this up and eventually you'll know how to sing properly for yourself. Teachers are generally bad unless they are good. Most "teachers" are just people that have no real clue what they are doing and regurgitate what they were taught by teachers that dot he same. If you get a teacher make sure they both can sing WELL and know what they are talking about(by comparing what they say with what you know and what others say). Just because someone can sing doesn't mean they know how to "teach". Ultimately you can't be taught anyways... you have to figure it out yourself. A teacher simply helps guide you in the right direction by preventing you from falling in the really obvious traps. Some people are dense though and if you happen to be one then a teacher might be necessary.
If I were you I'd spend minimum of 1 hr a day practicing. Not all vocal exertion. Some may be sight reading humming or stretching while some of the time might be an intense "workout". Again, this is something you have to figure out yourself because you are unique and only you know what really works(and if you don't you will find out quickly if you pay attention to what is going on and have a clue about what sounds good to you).
Most peoples failures are do to themselves. They either don't put in the actual work required or are just so clueless they just stumble around and never get anywhere. Practice with attentiveness and think and feel what is going on and how it relates to your goal and you will get there.
Ultimately, have fun. Singing along to singable songs is probably one of the best practice methods as you are learning from the best teachers(not the pretend ones who never were good enough to actually make it).
Also, if you don't know how to play an instrument, start learning. Singing and playing an instrument complement each other really well. Not only does it help you practice better but you can accompany yourself and do real music.
Being a good singer is important but here are some other things to think about.
If you want to sing for a living you have to "pay your dues." Musicians often say this as a means of expressing respect for the hard work that someone has put forth to get to where they are at. But it is not only hard work but a hard road of possible failures and rejection and doing things you might not be interested in.
This is not meant to say that it is not possible or to discourage you at all. Just a heads up for what might lay ahead. I think when someone first starts down the road of a new career, like singing, your life is split into 3 main areas: making a living (money), personal life, and singing. Unfortunately, there is not always enough time to consistently dedicate yourself to all 3 aspects everyday. The goal would be to merge the money part with the singing part. When you start to dedicate yourself to singing as well, your personal life starts to intertwine with singing as well. But in the beginning, the more you dedicate to singing the more the other two suffer. This is part of your dues. If you have a support system, both emotional and financial, that helps a lot and you shouldn't be too proud to lean on that support.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when trying to work as a singer. Keep an open mind. Sing for anything that will let you and pay you. Sing with anyone and any style. Try it all. If it doesn't work, don't get discouraged. Learn and move on. Learn from constructive advice. Don't let negative stuff get you down. Make contacts and get to know every one. Don't let flaky musicians or people in general get you down. If you are feeling confident after a while try putting together your own project. Don't be too afraid or proud to ask for help. If you enjoy singing for other projects keep doing that. Don't feel like being a star or the leader is a measure of success. Stay positive and don't judge others harshly. Be respectful. Help others and give them a shot if you are able to, just like someone may have given you a shot. Down the line, don't sell yourself short. You have to make a living so don't give your product away. However, there is a business aspect to it, so keep in mind the idea of supply and demand.
If you do it, do it! And good luck!