Tina Black is training to become a classical soprano singer at the Royal Academy of Music. Having already completed a degree in music, she is currently in the first year of a two-year Postgraduate Diploma in Performance. Tina also performs regularly as a soloist for weddings and funerals and at choral concerts.
What made you decide to train as a classical singer?
Singing and dancing have been very important to me since childhood, and I always knew that I wanted a career in music.
Do you have a musical background?
Yes. At the age of seven, I joined a church choir, which gave me a musical foundation and training. During secondary school I entered some music competitions and also began private singing lessons. After taking A level music, I studied for a music degree and then decided to work for two years in an office, to earn some money to pay for my future training and to allow my voice to mature.
What does the course include?
This course is a combination of weekly individual singing and coaching lessons, group classes and performance. Languages are an important part of a classical singer's training, including German and Italian. German, French and English songs are taught in special classes, where we also learn the historical context of the music. Movement and acting are also important parts of the course.
How much practise and preparation is there?
I usually practise for about two hours each day, which involves warming up exercises, rehearsing my current musical pieces as well as learning new ones. Everything must be performed from memory, so I need to learn all the words. I also need to research the piece I am singing, which could include translating the words into English or researching the characters in the music to help me portray the right emotions.
What personal qualities are needed to become a classical singer?
Patience is one of the most important qualities, since the training takes so long and the voice also takes time to mature. Determination and drive are also vital, along with stamina to cope with the sheer hard work of practising and performing. Self-confidence is also important, along with the willingness to be self-critical of your work.
In addition, you need good communication skills to ensure that your music appeals to as wide an audience as possible, and to get on well with other musicians.
What do you like about classical singing?
Singing is never mundane, and you carry on learning and developing throughout your career. Each week is different, and the work is great fun, especially as you are working with different people.
Where do you see your future?
I am already starting to get bookings for solo work with choral societies, and I would like to continue with this when I have finished my training.
Tina's route to becoming a classical singer
- A levels in music, German and maths.
- BMus (Hons) Degree in Music.
- Administrative work.
- Postgraduate Diploma in Performance.
- Attend as many concerts and listen to as many recordings as you can.
- Join local musical societies and choirs to gain varied experience.
- Playing a musical instrument is a distinct advantage – the piano is ideal.
- Popular singer
- Music teacher
The salary of a classical singer
- The Incorporated Society of Musicians set recommended rates for solo performers.
- A singer performing as a soloist should earn a minimum of £171.50 plus expenses for an evening concert (including a same-day rehearsal).
- Minimum rate for each singer in a choir varies from £81.50 to £119.50, dependent on size, for a 2.5 hour concert plus same-day rehearsal time.
- Most singers take on other work such as teaching to supplement their income.
- It can take many years to establish a career as a professional singer. This is an exceptionally competitive job.
- Full training at a conservatoire (music college) is usual, particularly postgraduate study.
- Most professional singers continue to take private singing lessons throughout their career.
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