Am I singing well - How does an amateur know when he is a pro ?
Singing is an art. Generally when newbies start singing they try to look for some objective parameters to determine if they sing well . For eg. , as a amateur singer may feel gung-ho if they are able to
- Sing high notes with ease
- Seamlessly connect from Chest voice to head voice
- Produce Vibrato and Sing in Falsetto
- Sing low notes
- Be able to do riffs, runs or belting.
Let me tell you that while of all above is important to becoming a good singer, these parameters by themselves cannot determine if you are a good singer. Singing is about
- Stage presence and managing your shyness
- Overall Presentation Style, and having a unique style , which generally comes after few years.
- Singing in correct pitch, scale, seamlessly bridge between your high and low range with smooth transitions
- Having control over your breath.
- Developing power in your voice range. If you sing low notes and lack power, it will not sound good., your voice will appear to shake. You should have good power across your vocal range without feeling any stress.
- Phrasing - Frank Sinatra was really good at this. Phrasing is about singing words in time with rhythm of some. You can push certain spots forward while singing or pull back other spots. This is a unique style use to create more emotional impact. Phrasing can turn melody into memorable performance.
- Timing - It's performer's instinct, you must know how long to strech a not, when to sing fast, slow . These decisions have to be made impromptu while performing and cannot generally be taught, but can be learnt by watching good singers.
- Tempo and Rhythm - This is about how fast or slow the song is being sung. Some common terms that define the tempo are - Allegro - singing in a lively or quick manner; Andante implies moderate tempo, Presto which means to play or sing at a very fast tempo, and Lento means singing slowly. Tempo determines how the singer feels about the song and conveys his overall mood.
- Expressing yourself as required by song. You can be doing all of the above right, still not expressing yourself properly. Say if you are singing under pressure or trying hard to please someone.
- Choice of the song - You may be a great singer but on a given day your audience may be in a totally different mood to listen to some other song. Think what your audience wants to listen rather than what you want to sing.
If you can evaluate yourself on above parameters then you can say that you are singing well. Singers spend years working on above areas, still when they perform live something or other will get missed out. No one is perfect, some singers can create better impact than others, so dont be discouraged and keep trying to improve yourself as a singer. This is a lifelong exercise.