For BMA vocal coach Dave Brooks artist development is something that helps to distinguish Singing Success and what Brett Manning Studios brings to singers and singer-songwriters who are initially seeking a coach to develop their voice or be a better singer. Dave believes that vocal coaching is transcended by the artist development approach.
The Artist And The Voice
“We are not just about technique coaching or stylization or lyrical interpretation,” Dave said. “We’re also about developing the artist as a whole and educating them about the business. One of the things we do is to determine where an individual is in their developmental process, and then we help them find the next step toward moving forward in their career goals as a singer.” Dave said one of his objective is to get his students to answer questions about what they want to do or where they want to go as a singer. There is also a focus on image, the importance of looking good, being healthy, and being the best at being true to that artist you are in your heart. It is the latter that his holistic approach works to bring out and develop. “I ask want them to get a realistic overall picture of much money they’re looking at with things like the cost of a demo, mastering a CD, marketing costs, promotions and cover art for their CD,” Dave said.
Brett Manning And Coaches Are Also Songwriters
Since every vocal coach at Brett Manning Studios is a songwriting the craft of songwriting is also a focus of developing the complete artist package. “I work with my students that are songwriters but not as a co-writer really,” Dave explained. “It’s more like an editor. Every great writer needs an editor. To improve as a songwriter and realize your potential you don’t want to just write with anybody. You’re not learning if the person you write with is not as good as you or on roughly the same level.” The songwriting background and expertise is one more advantage that BMA coaches bring to the table at Brett Manning Studios. “It’s true that the more you write, the better you’ll get, but you need a challenge,” Dave said. “You’ll reach plateaus or stopping points. You need to raise the bar especially if you want to write songs that will make publishers and record labels take notice. Ideally you need to write with seasoned writers with cuts and holds.” Dave, who has had some cuts and holds as a songwriter, added that the problem with finding seasoned writers to work with is that most if not all don’t want to write with anyone unless they see major potential. But even hearing about that potential most often comes from a new writer getting a hold or a cut. He feels that since everyone at Brett Manning Studios is a songwriter working at various levels in a variety of styles that coaches bring a perspective that includes business savvy, an understanding of image and artistry, along with the power to develop and strengthen a singer’s voice. “I look at a song to see if the structure is good,” Dave said. “I’ll look a length. Is it long enough or short enough to be radio friendly, which is between three and maybe three and a half minutes. I also at lyrical content as far as what the song says based on the genre.”
Pop Easier Than Country
Dave said that pop songs tend to be much easier to write than country because country is more image based, lyrically poetic, and frequently uses metaphor. He added that in pop music the overriding rule is: there are no rules, likening it to the “wild west” with more of an anything goes kind of approach. “Pop songs tend to be more track based, like with the beat,” he said. “And the vocals tend to include a lot more acrobatics with licks, trills, runs, and singing high. The same applies to hip-hop and a lot of R&B. It can actually be ok to over-sing a pop song when that happens to be that stylistic motif that’s desired.” “We look at chorus versus the verse when teaching singer-songwriters,” Dave said. “Is the chorus too short? If it is short then you want verses that are more epic and that short needs to summarize those verses really well. You also need good structure. Is it flowing? Does the song build to something and keep the listener engaged? Is it too redundant lyrically or melodically?” For example, there may no little or no track changes from the verses to the chorus. There needs to be some transference or an emotional contrast of energy like a build and chord changes.
Vocal Changes Impact Songwriting Choices
“The changes in a singer vocally as they develop often impacts change in the writing for songwriters who sing,” Dave said. “They become more versatile as well. They also become less structured and freer in delivery if they tend to have more classical training. Every singer-songwriter develops a smoother vocal delivery as their writing improves.” In the learning process it’s important to pay attention to what you feel not what you hear when working through exercises for technique. He adds that if you want to make progress, you need to practice every day. “Change takes time and will vary person to person,” he said. “What you listen to as far as music goes is important, too. For example too much twang in your voice forces the listener to maybe hone in on delivery and miss the essence of a song. You don’t want your voice to get in way of what you sing.” To work through issues like twang or thick accents he encourages singers to make vowels as pure and as boring and proper as possible and to work on it repeatedly until it becomes second nature as in muscle memory. For someone with too much twang, he advises listening to middle of the road country such as Rascal Flatts, and Carrie Underwood, along with some pop rock such as John Mayer or Alanis Morrisette. “What you want as a songwriter and singer will happen if you believe and work hard,” Dave said.Visit www.brettmanningstudios.com to read some of Dave’s blogs and those by other Brett Manning Associates.