Why Do I Need Lessons to Be an Actor or Singer?
Natural talent can take you a long way. TV shows like American Idol, The Voice, and X Factor prove it, but the odds of winning are a bit like winning the lottery. Even getting past the first round of auditions is a grueling race. Not prepared to spend days in line waiting for maybe a minute and a half of screen time? Can’t blame you, but there are alternatives.
A long-term career in singing or acting often starts with lessons. Much like top athletes, actors and singers spend many more hours in preparation for the big day then they spend on stage. Natural talent can take you far, but to become a professional, you need training. Fast runners get faster with consistent training, and actors and singers get better with the right feedback and exercises.
Professional Acting and Singing Is Work
The first thing to remember about the job of an actor or a singer is that it is work. That means getting to the top requires dedication and a lot of prep time. Regularly scheduled vocal lessons, acting classes and assorted time spent learning about entertainment in all its forms is the foundation for getting work as a professional. You wouldn’t walk into an interview without a resume, so why would you walk into an audition without preparation?
Do You Really Need a Teacher?
There are lots of online tutorials and activities out there that can enrich your learning, but for real progress, you need an instructor. It’s almost impossible to objectively judge your own performance. For instance, when you film your own scene, you finish the scene and then go back to look at things. In contrast, when you work in a formal lesson setting, you get corrections as you go, and the invaluable experience of working with a director in the form of an excellent teacher.
Critiquing your own singing is another big challenge. Until you develop hundreds of studio hours and hear your own raw sound, making improvements can be overwhelming. You just can’t hear yourself correctly. It’s a design and biology issue. The way your body works, you hear a very different sound from an objective listener. To figure out where and how to improve your sound, you need an expert listener. Also, voice lessons can help you avoid injuries that could cut your career short. The voice is a complex machine, and you want it well-maintained heading into a big audition.
A Coach Good Coach Is a Must
An experienced industry expert for a coach can do a lot more than just give you voice lessons or assign acting homework. They can help you prepare for auditions, smooth out any performance issues and tell you when something isn’t in your wheelhouse. The last thing you want from a coach is someone who just says “Yes.” Yes, men might be a nice confidence boost, but they don’t help you land roles. Of course, finding the right coach comes with its own set of hurdles.
How to Find a Coach
There are thousands of people and services out there offering acting and singing coaching. So how do you separate out the scams from the quality coaching you need? Start with a price comparison. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s the rule of thumb when shopping for anything, including coaching services. Also, be wary of promises of success. No coach can guarantee you fame, only access to their knowledge and expertise. Always ask for references. With a coach, you’re signing on for a long-term relationship that could directly impact your employability for years to come. A few references are the minimum that you should ask for.
At Shaun Royer Talent Development and Soundcheck Artists, I routinely work with many professionals who come in for a catch-up lesson when they’re not on tour or filming. Why? Because it pays to keep up with your skills and stretch your development, even after you start working professionally