Amateur Musical Theatre: A Singing Teacher's Role

Laura Dumbleton

  • OnStage United Kingdom Columnist

Imagine: You're a singer, and you've landed yourself a role in an amateur musical production. You've had singing lessons leading up to the auditions, learning how to sing those 16 bars in character and honing your technique to a point where it's second nature to you. Then you've gone to the audition, nailed it, got through to call backs and eventually were offered your part. Hooray! 

Yes, this means you have to do character research and you have to put this into action when you rehearse your role. The director will give you notes on your performance, and some pointers on your character development as the rehearsals progress. At every rehearsal, you feel like you're getting into character faster and for longer periods of time. 

But then comes the clincher. Can you stay in character when you sing? Sometimes, your director hasn't got a clue how to help you. The musical director can usually give you some pointers, but nobody really has the time to dedicate one on one with you because they have a whole cast to help out. So, you go back to your singing teacher. 

Your singing teacher will know how to help you with your song, from character development to the way you sing certain words. They'll understand that the role is to be played a certain way and they'll work with the notes you were given. They'll be your mirror, showing you what was great and what could be done better. They'll become invested in this role, nearly as much as you have, because they want you to succeed.

After months of lessons, rehearsals, panic moments and  cancelled social events, it's finally Show Week. You're ready, you're in character and you have a full house. You go out there and you give it your all and love every minute of it. Your audience will get lost in the story and enjoy watching it, and then they'll most likely go home and think about something else.

However, some audience members, especially your singing teacher, will get lost in the story but they'll also notice everything. From the way you hold your posture, to where your microphone is positioned, to the tone of that belted note when it comes out of you and what the rest of the cast is doing too.

But why wouldn't they? They've worked almost as hard as you have on that song, they've helped you learn it, put little adjustments in place to help you with your diction and breathing, and showed you how to get that belted note perfect. Not to mention tailoring your lessons to help you grow your voice under the demands of the role, and thinking about how they can best help you when they wake up at 3am worrying about you.

Every audience is invested in you, they want to see you soar in your role and succeed in your goal. But, your teacher, knowing how hard you've worked, will really be rooting for you, especially when that hard bit comes up. And when you nail it, they'll be the ones sitting with silent tears running down their cheeks with pride at what you've just achieved. They'll even earn the concerned looks of their neighbors who won't really get what they're crying about, but they won't care. You just made them proud of you. 

They might even go home and write you some notes for the following night's performance. They'll drop you a text or an email saying how much you've proved to yourself that you can do it, how proud they are of you, and here's something that might help you be even better at what you just did. 

Don't get me wrong, they'll also pick up on things in the show that aren't quite right, or know that someone else in the company needs some vocal help  to reach that high note. 

Because that's what we do. We're never off duty, not really. But do you know what? 

We love it!