• The Vocalist’s Tool Kit

    in Piano,Vocal

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    In this lesson, you will discover the tools that are in the vocalist’s tool kit.

    The vocalist career is a profession just like Engineering, Medical, Legal, or any other profession. If a technical profession like engineering, demands the use of tools for its job delivery, what makes you think the vocalist profession doesn’t?

    The reason why it is necessary for you as a vocalist to have your tool kit is because it helps to enhance your vocal delivery. Imagine a doctor that wants to check your temperature without thermometer, or imagine an engineer that wants to drill a hole without a drilling machine, or loose a screw without a screwdriver.

    So, let’s bring it down to a career vocalist.

    “Who Is A Vocalist?”

    A vocalist is someone that makes music with his/her voice. A vocalist is like an upgraded version of a singer. When you reach the point of being called a vocalist, it indicates what you can make with your voice.

    Do you know that most of the songs that you hear on films and animation, were created by vocalists? Do you know that there is so much money to make from this, that you can earn a living exploring this career path?

    “What Are The Tools In A Vocalist’s Tool Kit?”

    The vocalist tool kits include:

    • Writing materials
    • A media player
    • Voice recorder
    • Stopwatch
    • Voice lubricant (like water)
    • Headphones

    These are for the basic level, but by the time you progress you will need a:

    • Personal voice mixer
    • Personal microphone (for rehearsal and performance)

    The Functions Of The Tool Kits

    The tool kits outlined above serve the following functions:

    Writing Material

    This does not necessarily mean a book and a pen, it could be a writing app on your mobile device. One of the things a vocalist can do with the writing material is to write out the plot of a song.

    For example, if I am planning a birthday, and I ask you- a vocalist, to come and sing for me, the writing material helps you to compile a collection of songs that will suit the event, and it will also help you organize your act. Your writing materials need to be handy.

    You could use your phone or writing software, so you don’t have to move around with pen and paper to show that you are a well-equipped vocalist. The writing materials are basically used to organize and sketch out your rehearsal and performance plan, just like an architect.

    A Media Player

    This refers to any device you use to listen to music, either what you recorded or what other people have recorded. Even though your job as a vocalist is to sing, you will be required to do more of listening because how good you sound is a function of what you hear and recognize with your ear.

    A good vocalist must have a stereo system, and if possible, set up a music player that will play nonstop. This will expose your ear to different varieties of music, and develop your singing style and creativity.

    Voice Recorder

    The beauty of voice recording is that it’s like your own personal teacher. When you record yourself, and listen to your recording, you will observe certain errors, and can easily spot your fault, which will lead you to re-record until you fix it.

    If you practice this all the time, you will notice a self-evaluation trend that can easily shape your voice to create audible and clear sound. Another thing a voice recorder does is it helps you record an inspiration you receive immediately it comes, before you lose it.

    Well, I know that it’s good to read music, but how many people want to sit down and write music? So, always keep your voice recorder handy so you can retain all your creative work as a vocalist. When you record your voice, it retains the feeling, the passion, and even the originally inspired key.

    It’s been proven that the key of a song is the best key to use when performing the piece because if you use another key it might alter the feeling and effect. Can you see all that you can achieve with just a voice recorder?

    Stopwatch

    Over time, you will notice that music and time are related. So, beginning from your warm up and practice session, a stopwatch is necessary to help you measure duration in your exercise or drill, such as, learning how to sustain a particular note like ‘do.’

    You can also use it to measure your progress in terms of timing a song, timing how long you can hold your breath, etc.

    Voice Lubricant (Water)

    Water contains air which makes your voice to be refreshed, and to a great extent water balances your temperature. Most of the time when you sing and your throat gets dry, water or healthy and edible liquids make you breath more easily.

    Headphones

    There are four things a headphone will do for you:

    • Headphones can also give you intimacy especially when you want to be alone to rehearse or score songs properly.
    • It helps you record in a very busy, noisy, or crowded environment. With your headphones on, you can record in a noisy place because it can eliminate the noise and pick only your voice.
    • It will help you hear what you recorded, or the song you are listening to clearly.
    • Headphones help you not to disturb your neighbor or colleagues who may be affected by your music if you play it out loud.

    Voice Mixer

    What a mixer does for a performing vocalist is that it helps you get the right blend of vocal effect for your microphone. You use the mixer while rehearsing, to get acquainted with the right combination for a particular effect on your microphone.

    Microphone

    You understand your microphone and your microphone understands you. Just like a guitarist that goes to perform with the personal guitar he practices with, get your personal microphone too.

    Final Words

    The moral of this lesson is to make sure you won’t be like a doctor who does not have a thermometer or an engineer who does not have a screwdriver. So, start gathering your tools one after the other if you want to be professional.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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