To become a vocalist, or singer, requires a large degree of commitment to music. You will need to study music, gain experience, and make contacts to succeed as a professional vocalist. Not everyone can become a vocalist. Singing is a profession that requires talent as well as training. Once you establish yourself as a singer, you can branch off into other areas such as teaching and directing.
The first step on the path to becoming a vocalist is to study music and singing. Many universities offer degree programs in music with a focus on vocal performance. An undergraduate degree is not the only way to break into singing, it is possible to study music and singing privately or at non-accredited institutions and still become a successful singer. Studying at a university provides the advantage of establishing contacts in the industry and gaining experience performing as part of the program. If you wish to become a classical singer or an opera singer, a degree in music is essential.
There are cases of professional singers who do not study music. These are the exception and not the rule. To become a vocalist, most people at the very least receive voice lessons. These lessons instruct on pitch, tone, and range and provide vocal exercises to help strengthen your voice. Studying music structure and theory is also recommended. Even when you are an established vocalist, you will likely continue to take voice lessons to learn new styles and improve technique.
Once you have some knowledge of music and singing, it is time to gain experience. The easiest way to get experience is to volunteer to perform with local choirs or singing groups. You can also look for advertisements in local media seeking vocalists for local bands and performances. There are many different genres of music that vocalists perform. It is a good idea to pursue musical styles you would like to perform in the future.
Another useful method to help you become a vocalist is to make contacts in the industry. Seek out local professional or recreational groups that other singers and musicians belong to. Attend performances and pay attention to different singing styles and other performance techniques you can use to improve your own singing. Reach out to established singers and see if they will mentor you or help you with contacts.
After you have become a vocalist and have an established track record of performances, you can expand into other areas. Many singers teach other vocalists as a side job or as a full-time career. You can teach for a school or university or become a freelance vocal coach. Choir and performance directors are other jobs that former or current singers perform.