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Actors Should Study Singing. Here’s Why

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For over 20 years, I’ve taught voice and artistic development to professional actors, aspiring actors, and young people. Many of them have gone on to major musical theater programs, star on Broadway and with large touring companies, become major label recording artists, starred in movies and TV, and won competitions. While my track record may speak for itself, the insights gained from my students’ successes are invaluable, especially when you consider that not all of them are primarily singers.

So why is it important for actors to study singing? Simply put, it broadens your ability to be cast.

If you’re not confident in your ability to sing, you are cutting out a fairly significant part of the market. I’m not saying you need to be some world class singer but you should be competent so you can feel confident auditioning for musicals and roles that may require incidental singing. Training with the right person will get you there.

Today there are many opportunities for actors who sing. If Anna Kendrick didn’t nurture her singing, she might not have been cast in “Pitch Perfect.” Same goes for Emma Stone and “La La Land,” Dan Stevens and “Beauty and the Beast,” and many more actors who you didn’t even realize could sing until you saw them do so on screen. Not only that, but more and more actors are making the leap to Broadway.

READ: Vocal Coach vs. Voice Teacher: What’s the Difference?

If singing isn’t your end goal, that’s fine too. But as the simplest definition of singing is elevated speech, the proper training will take the strain off your voice when you’re required to get into elevated speech. In short, it’ll help protect your voice.

Alright, so you know why to study singing as an actor, but what about choosing the person the study with?

As a nonclassical expert, I can tell you there’s a big difference between training with a classical teacher and one who understands the nonclassical technique. In women, a classical approach means bringing the high voice (head voice) down low. It’s an outdated sound that compromises the intelligibility of the words and doesn’t fall in line with current standards of theatrical singing.

Over 80 percent of musical theater roles require some kind of belt, a firm connection out of your speaking voice (chest voice) with an upper mix (sometimes hard, sometimes lighter) with vowels that still sound speech like. Women who study classically or have no training usually have disastrous results when they try to belt. They pull pure chest voice too high and then crack. With men, the opposite is true. Men come out of chest voice, but

With classically-trained men, the opposite is true. Men come out of chest voice but usually lack mixed production (a combination of chest and head) and have a shortened range. Many of these men are actually tenors (the predominant voice type in today’s environment) and aren’t able to take on roles they really could master. They are misclassified as baritones, limiting them to a finite number of roles.

A lot of classical teachers have started appealing to theatrical singers to increase studio volume, yet they don’t even know how to listen to the production of this type of singing. You need someone who knows it inside out, can pick up cues from your voice, and knows how to adjust it in a commercially viable manner.

Actors, make two right choices: study singing and do it with the right person.

Randy Buescher is an internationally recognized expert in non-classical vocal technique. He is also well known as a clinician, author, vocal therapist, and researcher. His clients have won Tony Awards, Dove Awards, and Emmys, have been nominated for Grammy Awards, and been “American Idol” finalists. He has also worked with artists from every major label. He has presented and been a speaker for the Voice Foundation, NATS, Naras, and the Broadway Theatre Project, along with various universities, high schools, and other institutions. Learn more about Randy at yourtruevoicestudio.com.

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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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