9/9/19 // Courtesy of iSingMagazine
Vocal coach to the stars Brett Manning has a stellar client list that includes Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Miley Cyrus. He is also the creator of Singing Success, the best-selling online vocal training programme. He spoke to LINE HILTON about singing, teaching and what he would do if he were king for a day.
How did you become a singing teacher?
I was – and still am – a singer. For years I had a voice coach who ostensibly taught me to sing. But he didn’t, he taught me to yell. I would yell those notes and the next day I would be hoarse. Then I took a lesson with [renowned vocal coach and Speech Level Singing pioneer] Seth Riggs. Within the first 15 minutes I realised that most of my previous training had been a waste of time and money.
Those first 15 minutes with Seth changed my world. It rocked everything. All the lights came on and everything finally made sense.
After that people would hear me sing and ask: “How do you get those notes?”. I would say: “It’s not that hard, let me show you.” I went from showing people things, to having them insist on paying me for my time. Pretty soon I had 30 students – and it just kept growing. I moved to Nashville in 1998 and built up my teaching practice there. I had 130 students and a waiting list when I released Singing Success.
Singing Success is the most successful online vocal training programme in the world. When did it take off in popularity?
For a long time, I’d sell one or two a month but then it started picking up. I think it was due to word of mouth because people were getting great results. By 2002 Singing Success started making a splash in the industry and in 2005 – seven years after it was released – it became the Number 1 seller. I credit Seth Riggs for the ideology underpinning the programme. I told him that one time and he said: “I don’t know if you should be putting out a programme, I already have a CD and a book”. I said: “Even if you have written the bible of singing, the bible has commentaries. I’m trying to honour you by doing the programme. It’s my de-construction of it.”
One thing I have consistently tried to do is refine the methods that I teach to make them faster. I believe what you learn should be quick. I have all these quotes stuck up in my studio and one says: “Life is too short to learn slowly.”
What do you wish all singers understood?
Personality wins every battle. In politics the biggest personality wins every time. And that’s how it is in music. The person with the most compelling personality is going to win the battle. What it comes down to is you have all these people who are technically equal, but it is the ones who sing with passion, fire and emotion that stand out.
The other thing I always say is: “Sing for the song and you’ll never go wrong. Sing for yourself and everyone loses.”
How does style impact vocal technique?
Imagine two boats are tethered to each other by a rope. One is style and one is technique. Let’s say the technique boat is moving forward and the style boat stops. The two boats start to pull, but technique can’t go anywhere unless style lifts its anchor. As style does this, technique says “now I have room to move”. Style brings soul to the music. Without style it’s not really music.
What’s your approach to singing?
I often use the acronym TEMPS. This stands for Technical, Emotional, Mental, Physiological (by that I mean working on your whole body health) and Spiritual. That last one is about everyone’s individual faith and values. It’s about finding that deep place.
What does the Singing Success vocal programme cover?
We have Singing Success 360 and it really is a complete vocal training system. It’s a vocal workout plan designed to coordinate every muscle of the voice essential to great singing. It covers technique and style, everything from discovering high notes, agility, dynamics, consistency, melody and agility – the list goes on. We also have a QuickStart programme which offers ten exercises to build a powerful voice. There are other programmes too. People should check out the website. There’s a lot there.
If you were king for a day what would you decree singers must do?
Warm up well and sing free. As soon as you warm up, forget all the technical things and just enjoy it. Sing and don’t waste time because people are dying every day, and they’re dying with their music inside them. Get out there and sing, don’t waste time.