Four top tips from an LA vocal coach

Top tips from vocal coach John Henny

John Henny, voice coach to stars such as Britney Spears and Danny Klein, shares his four top tips for singers.

Henny, who has also trained hundreds of voice teachers through his online Voice Teacher Bootcamps, was a recent guest on iSingmag’s podcast where he spoke about acoustic science, the importance of setting clear goals and the power of rhythm.

1 Explore rhythm

An aspect of singing I wish singers would embrace more is rhythm. We have the most rhythmically diverse instrument. We singers get to play with rhythm unlike any other instrument and can explore phrasing, language, punctuation and sounds.

Often with great singers we get fascinated with their high notes and their tone, but I find that their rhythmic sense is so fantastic. It’s a huge part of what draws people in.

I encourage singers to delve into the language and listen, not only the vowel sounds and colours, but the consonants and alliterations.

2 Practice

In terms of practice, you want to work up a habitual routine. You don’t want to think “Am I going to have time today? When am I going to do it?”. You need to have that standing date with yourself so that it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth.

3 Identify your goals

Figure out what it is that you want to do. I see a lot of young singers who just think “I want to sing”. You need to decide what part of the business you want to be in. If you want to be on Broadway, you need a different set of skills to that of a session singer, a backing vocalist or a pop artist.

The singers that I have seen do well, know where they want to go. It’s not enough to “just want to sing”. That’s like going into McDonald’s and saying you “just want food”. You need to be more specific. Once you know what you want, you can focus on acquiring the skill set you need.

4 If you want to be a pop artist….

Start writing great songs. If you just sing, no matter how good you are, you’re competing with more people. There are more good singers, than good singers who write really great songs, out there.

John Henny is the author of the bestselling book Teaching Contemporary Singing.

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