Yes, I know, this is a big topic. It can also be a terribly sad and contentious situation that hits us all right in ‘the feels’, as you kids say (…or maybe you stopped saying it. I have no idea. I’m old).
It hurts our hearts to have people who care about us – and whom we care about – not stand behind us when we know we want to sing professionally. Nonetheless, it happens. But before we get all upset, let’s see if we can shed some light.
For singers under 18
You guys have it especially hard because you are (ostensibly) living with parents or guardians. So, whatever they say goes, right? Well, yes and no.
I don’t mean to cause a big teenage revolution out there, but there are ways for you to live under your parents’ roofs and still take your singing deadly seriously.
First thing: take school seriously! Have a great attendance record, get tip-top grades, you know the deal; I’m talking as close to perfection as possible. That way, no one can hand you the old, “Your grades are slacking off, blahblahblah!” line.
Get a job. Work your ass off and save your money.
Second thing: Get a job. Work your ass off and save your money…for voice lessons. Then, you’re not beholden to your folks, and you can start looking for a great teacher and start on your path.
Third thing: Form a band. We all did it and so can you. If you play an instrument, that’s fantastic! If not, find classmates who do. If you have a garage to practice in, even more fantastic!
However, if you live in an urban area like I did, get creative. I found my high-school band some space in a barbershop’s basement.
For singers over 18
I would say that the aforementioned three things apply here as well, especially if you’re living at home and attending a local college. However, if you’re going out of state and your parents are footing the bill, it might be a lot more difficult to buck the system.
If you take school seriously and get a job, while you may not be able to do the band thing right away, you will be able to participate in musical events at school. This is great because you’ll meet others whom you may want to jam with/form a band with, etc.
Going away to school will bring tons of schmoozing and musical opportunities, so be grateful and take advantage of it all.
For military families
Being a “military brat” can bring its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to following in your family’s footsteps. Well, you know you can join a military band as a vocalist, right? It’s a commitment, though, no joke.
You have to go through basic training (for most bands), keep your hair short, be in shape, no drug use, all the usual military stuff.
But, you get lots of military perks: health insurance, tuition assistance and a pension if you stay in for 20 years…just a thought!
The restaurant, farm, golf pro shop, whatever. Are you feeling pressured? That’s a lot to deal with, but hear me out.
Throughout your life, lots of people are going to expect lots of things from you. But remember that the operative words here are “your life”.
Family members, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends and the rest entitled to their opinions, but I urge you to think long and hard before making career decisions that are based on someone else’s expectations of you.
Sometimes compromise is necessary. I knew two high school graduates who really wanted to study music but their parents had other ideas, namely pre-law and pre-med. Both families agreed that the kids would attend college and give those majors a try for a year, taking musical elective courses, too.
After a year and some assessments and discussions, both college freshmen dropped their majors and became successful full-time musicians. One ultimately went back to his parent’s first preference years later, but did so happily because it was his choice, not anyone else’s.
It’s never easy to step off a path that has been paved for you but it’s important to ask yourself: “Will I have any regrets if I don’t give becoming a professional singer my best shot?” If the answer is yes, then you have your answer.
Now you just have to have to work hard, keep the faith and convince everyone else that you made the right decision! Good luck!
Jaime was a Musical Director, coaching voice and performance for Disney and wrote “Working With Your Voice: The Career Guide to Becoming a Professional Singer” (Alfred Publishing). As a session singer, she ‘jingled’ for Coke, Pillsbury, Folgers, Chevrolet, and hundreds more. She’s sung on thousands of live gigs (covers and original music) and toured for years with Leon Russell and Sam Moore. Jaime sang BGVs live and digitally with George Strait, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Webb, Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus, Johnny Mathis, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Willie Nelson and others. She performed off-Broadway in “Search: Paul Clayton”, toured nationally with “Old Jews Telling Jokes” and presently coaches students in voice, performance, beginner guitar/piano, studio singing, songwriting and auditioning in NY, CT, LA, Nashville and virtually. For bookings: www.workingwithyourvoice.com