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A singer is a vocal musician who reads, interprets and sings lines of music based on one's education in musicianship or by pure natural talent. Singers are also categorized by the style of music they sing, such as pop, jazz, rhythm and blues, or by their vocal range, such as a bass, tenor, alto or soprano.
The skilled singer's job responsibilities are to learn the assigned music for a paid or sometimes unpaid performance. For example, a singer hired to take on a soloist part in a church choir would be required to study the music for a service ahead of time to be comfortable and accurate with the music. One should have spent time rehearsing the piece in different ways to determine the most satisfying version for the audience. A cabaret singer would be required to meet with a pianist or a group of musicians to decide what types of songs best show off the singer's voice. Once a selection of songs has been agreed upon, the singer is required to rehearse with the musicians and eventually perform in front of an audience. A studio singer can be hired to provide backup vocals or record demonstrations of songs a writer would like another artist or industry name to eventually record. This type of singer needs to have good microphone technique and be willing to work with a wide range of producers and creative directors to get the sound and style just right.
The life of a singer can be difficult and sometimes unfulfilling, but those who prepare themselves with a good education, singing lessons, musicianship classes, instrument study and other types of classroom time can become highly skilled and sought after for live stage performances, background singing on musical recordings and even a solo act after performing for several years in front of live audiences.
A qualified singer should first and foremost be a creative individual who loves collaborating with different types of people and always be open to discovering various styles of music. Successful singers are great interpreters of music and have the unique ability to communicate through sound and melodies, so the ability to convey a wide range of emotions is very important. A strong physical presence also helps to solidify a good performance and ensure he will be hired again for the next gig.
There are generally no educational requirements for singers, particularly if one possesses a high level of natural talent. However, those who wish to train in the craft should start as early as possible. Many schools offer music classes such as show choir and concert choir. From there, an education in music from an undergraduate university is a good next step. Many successful singers take their education further by attending graduate school and receiving a Master's of Music in vocal performance.
According to Payscale.com, the average singer working in the United States earns an annual base salary of $35,362. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the industry as a whole should see an increase in its workforce of approximately 10 percent by 2016.
KJ Henderson has more than a decade of HR and talent acquisition experience. He has held roles at a Fortune 100 investment bank, a media conglomerate and at one of NYC's largest executive staffing firms. He currently heads recruitment sourcing at a major movie studio. He read literature at Oxford.
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