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Can You Sing Well Enough to be a Solo Act?


CaptainUnderpant

Can You Sing Well Enough to be a Solo Act  

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  1. 1. Can You Sing Well Enough to be a Solo Act

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Recently I have been working on songs that I can perform in a Solo manner and still sound good. Piano bar type songs. Piano Man, Just the Way you Are, Your Song, some of the basics. Songs that people like to hear that sound good on a piano with a male voice. Getting together a repertoire of a couple hours of songs is the goal.

 

I am curious who here either can pull off this type of playing. Whether playing this type of gig is of interest. What experience you have had in this situation. And what songs work well in this environment.

 

Your comments are as valuable as the poll results. Thanks for participating!

 

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I would like to add that both my piano playing and vocals are what I would consider just strong enough to pull this off. I feel appropriate playing at a coffee house (which is what I have occasionally done), where I play for free and nobody gives a crap. I am far away from "owning it" at a $100 a plate fine dining establishment. But hey, you have to start somewhere. :)

Yamaha S90XS, Studiologic VMk-161 Organ

Small/powerful (i7, 32GB, M.2 SSD) PC controlled by 10" Touch Screen

Cantabile, Ravenscroft 275, Keyscape, OPX-II, Omnisphere 2, VB3, Chris Hein Horns, etc.

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You might have a decent voice (loud enough, in tune, strong enough to last the gig) or an interesting "character" singing voice.

 

The test is singing somewhere folk don't know you and seeing if they're engaged and looking at you - or just carrying on with their conversations and maybe a bit of polite applause from a few once you stop.

 

Give it a go - more than one gig - and be sure to post to let us know how it went.

 

Your quiz - are you able to add a "don't know" option?

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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Your quiz is missing another option. "Yes, but only if it's a comedy act"

 

*honka honka*

 

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For a while I did a duo with a harmonica player - piano and harmonica. Both of us sang. We did blues mostly with a couple of jazz tunes thrown in: Work Song, Comin' Home Baby, etc (ones that don't modulate in the B section). It worked out pretty well. The music was quiet enough and familiar enough so we got a lot of small bar and restaurant gigs. The harmonica player could only really follow along, so I was free to set the tempo and play stride or boogie-woogie or walk bass or 4-to-the-bar guitar-style chords or whatever. We did this for 2+ years a got a lot of gigs.

 

Now I'm older with less lung power and my range has narrowed. I can do maybe 2-3 songs a nite before I can't really sing anymore (maybe more with good vocal monitoring). And it is harder now for me to believe anyone wants to hear me sing. I'm conflicted: I love to sing, I just no longer think I should in public.

 

If you like to sing and play, then go for it.

 

Getting paid for it - now that's a different story.

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My problem is that I have a bass voice. That pretty much says it all. I often sing along with what I play, albeit an octave below the written melody and sometimes with a key change. It's mostly for my own enjoyment. I could not hold down a solo vocal piano gig, however. I listen to a lot of players in restaurants at the piano and most are fair singers, typically a bit better at the piano, but after a while they begin to sound the same and become uninteresting.

 

Musicale

 

 

Musicale

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Strongly considering a solo act but not piano bar music. Where I live there are too many guitar bands playing guitar songs, finally became too frustrating. I'm building my own MIDI sequences for bass, drums, other parts playing bar songs that aren't fun to play on guitar.
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I do some singing. My voice is nothing special, but I enjoy singing and my audiences don't seem to mind me doing so. I think the important thing is that it adds variety to a performance, just as much as if you were to have another instrumentalist with you. And in an evening of solo piano, the more variety you can add, the better. Also, although pretty well everything can be done instrumentally, there are certain songs which people love to hear sung. Give it a go! You don't need to sing every number....just throw in a few to start with and see how you feel about it. Bear in mind that like everything else, it gets easier with practice - you may find it quite difficult the first few times.
"Turn your fingers into a dust rag and keep them keys clean!" ;) Bluzeyone
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The most important thing I had to learn when I used to play solo piano+voice gigs was to play less and sing more. When I first started doing it, I would play as though I was playing solo instrumental piano rather than accompanying myself. Once I figured that out, it was a lot more manageable.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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I could probably do it. Ironically (seeing as this is a keyboard forum) I don't think I play well enough to do it LOL

 

Have to pick songs in range of course, and unfortunately (to me) I'm a baritone. Not sure people want to hear baritone all night, and it rules out a ton of songs. Transposing a bit down helps some.

 

That aside, my biggest issues would be:

- remembering that many lyrics. I have major problems with lyrics that I don't have with music...

- technique. I'm fairly sure my poor vocal technique would kill my voice if I sang that much. Something I'm working on.

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Been doing it for many years. I use an Arranger keyboard with heavily edited Styles and SMFs. Gives me a lot of versitality. I can go from solo piano, to piano trio, to a full band.

Most important is the singing. Take some lessons if needed and sing with confidence, that's what reaches the audience. And record yourself if you don't have a teacher to hear any problems.

And IMHO back off the free gigs. Your hurting other musicians and giving the business owners the idea that musicians don't deserve to be paid. Sorry but this is a sore spot for me. When I lived in Cape May NJ they used to have a singer - songwriter weekend. Musicians from all over (mostly guitar players) would come from all over to get to do a set or two for free. But when that weekend was over the same businesses who let them play would have no music. One owner told me the corner where they played took away a four top table. I played his big outdoor Crab Fest and he loved me but wouldn't use me inside.. Well it was good when the music was free and brought in customers, but not when you have to pay a musician ?

Stepping off the soapbox now . Good luck and go for it !

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Unfortunately it's not just a matter of singing well enough, or doing it really well for that matter. It's the package. Are you a handsome fellow with great stage presence and charismatic enough to be the center of the show and hold people's attention for a set or two? Simon Cowell (ha ha) calls it, as TV watchers know, the X factor. But yeah, I can sing. Do I enjoy being the life of the party? The master of ceremonies? Eh, not so much. But I love accompanying and pride myself on solid intonation as a back up singer.

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Recording yourself is huge, big agreement there. It will certainly knock any overconfidence out of you if you haven't recorded yourself singing before :) For one thing, it's like seeing pictures of yourself, you won't really like it even if others say it's good! If you can get to the point where you can stand listening to your own recordings, that's a good sign :D

 

Also big agreement on the charisma thing. Looks surely help and probably matter more as you get "higher up". At my "low" level I've seen some very popular front-people that aren't that good-lucking, or in that great of shape, but they have *something* that lets them connect with the audience. I think it's mainly confidence; when you are confident to the point of not giving a crap being up there, and you aren't worried about forgetting the lyrics because you *know* that they'll come to you...they can feel that.

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Unfortunately it's not just a matter of singing well enough, or doing it really well for that matter. It's the package. Are you a handsome fellow with great stage presence and charismatic enough to be the center of the show and hold people's attention for a set or two? Simon Cowell (ha ha) calls it, as TV watchers know, the X factor. But yeah, I can sing. Do I enjoy being the life of the party? The master of ceremonies? Eh, not so much. But I love accompanying and pride myself on solid intonation as a back up singer.

^ What he said. ^

 

dB

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I have been doing this for years. I love doing solo shows and usually get some private parties or weddings off these shows. I concur that recording yourself will help tremendously in developing you voice/style. I will also say when you sing don't think about playing great chops, just focus on your vocals. If you take a ride then show your chops. People could care less how you play if your vocal is on. As for songs I have close to 300 I pull from. Thank goodness for the iPad.

Jimmy

 

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I've been doing a single act for 20 years, 1 month. I miss the interaction with other players, but I really enjoy the freedom to play what I like, and not come to a consensus with other people. I did that for many years, having to play songs I could not stand. It started to make me hate going to the gig.

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For you guys who don't think you can sing don't sell yourself short. It may not come naturally to you and take some serious work but I believe most anyone can be taught. Its ear training and physical control. Get a teacher and practice. Sinatra's favorite exercise was long tones. Perfected his intonation and breathing and allowed him to develop his own special phrasing.

You practice many hours on your keys so give your voice the same workout. Singing will get you a lot more attention, gigs, and $$$ than just being a great keyboardist. Use an IPAd if necessary for lead sheets to keep your song selection varied and fitting for the venue.

As for the X factor, be humble but confident, be well groomed and always dress one step above your audience, make eye contact, smile and act like your having a ball ( you probably will be after awhile ). don't be a stranger to them, make them your new friends, converse with the audience between songs, tell them a little about yourself, about the song your going to play next, about the artists you like, etc.

Give it a chance and you may be surprised, I was years ago.

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I kinda sound like a duck when singing my normal range, but am told I that hit it great on harmonies; a singer I respect told me it's harder to find a good harmony singer than a lead. He was probably just trying to make me feel good, but it did build my confidence at lot, coming from him.

 

In our band I do the really high notes or the low notes. I guess that's the way ducks quack? hee hee

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In the beginning (70's) I played piano and sang in clubs and restaurants. As said above, recording yourself really helps hear what you sound like and might even steer you away from songs that don't suit your voice. I have (had?) a very reedy James Taylor kind of voice and some songs just never worked for me. I haven't really sang in public since then but I still have fond memories of that time in my life. ~BOB
I'm practicing so that people can maybe go "wow" at an imaginary gig I'll never play. -Nadroj
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I can and have on occasion. My problem is that while I sing well enough for most audiences I don't sing up to my own arbitrary standard. Can't do those Darryl Hall runs and turns like I so desperately want to do. Just gotta keep working on getting over myself and just do it.

 

I agree the X-factor definitely matters, but it can be learned. Not all great performers started out that way. I can think of a few famous guys who have admitted that they were statues when they started and grew into the role. Of course, you've got to want to become the center of attention. I think I'm finally admitting to myself that my ego wants it. :blush:

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Yeah. I can be a passable solo artist. I get told im not half bad. So im not half good either. I prefer to work with people. Its too much work to carry alone. I dont want to sing all night but i do want to sing at least a song a set.

 

This would sum me up, too.

 

:)

 

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