Performing in a Vocal Group
Joining or starting a boy or girl band isn’t for everyone, but it has huge benefits. How can you tell if it’s the right thing for you as a vocalist?
You can find a whole new level of success by performing in a vocal group. It enables you to harmonise, create a powerful sound, develop a bold image, choreograph dance routines and often build a bigger fan base faster. Yet it can also be very challenging.
In this article we’ll explore what’s involved, the possible pitfalls and how to make your vocal group work well.
Performing in a vocal Group
Being part of a girl group or boy band is a brilliant experience. Singing in a group allows you to perform with other people rather than going solo. Ensure if going down this route that you make it for the right reason as it may come with risks and requires a lot of commitment.
The problem many vocal groups face is that they all have something individually, but often struggle to make it work together singing in a group, on an artistic and practical level. You don’t all have to sound the same, but should aim to complement each other and let your individual talents shine.
If you’ve got the skills and the dedication, it’s very possible to find success as part of a singing group.
How to start a girl group or boy band
So you want to start a vocal group? The first thing you’ll need to do is find members. You can do this by getting singers you already know together, or advertising auditions, or by scouting at open mic nights and jams. If you’re already in a group and someone leaves, you may also want to find a suitable replacement. Here are some of the things you need to consider when choosing who to include.
What type of group are you starting?
Is it a choir, boy band, girl band, rock group, folk group or something else? When you approach people they’ll need to know what’s involved, including the group’s style, what sort of music you’ll be singing and where you’ll be planning to perform.
Is it a professional group?
Or a semi-professional aspiring to be a professional group, or just for fun? If you want to build a career and make money at it, you’ll need to be much stricter and more businesslike. But if it’s for fun, you can afford to be more relaxed about members’ abilities and credentials.
What is each person’s voice type?
If you want to harmonise as a group, which is essential for a cappella and choirs, you’ll need a mix of soprano, mezzo and altos for girls, and tenors, baritones and basses for men. Or at least people with the ability to sing within those ranges. Not only does this make the harmony possible, but the varying voice types will also add depth and body to the sound.
Can you really work collectively?
We’ll talk about this in more detail later on, but don’t forget that as well as singing together, there will be a lot of admin and promotion to be done too. You’ll need to operate as a team practically and creatively.
Do you have on-stage chemistry?
The ways in which you interact and engage with one another goes a long way in engaging an audience.
Do you look like you fit?
Think about your image. Usually, bands have a sense of cohesion in terms of style and fashion. Ideally, you won’t all look too similar but will share a similar vibe and look.
Are you in the same genre?
It’s going to sound pretty weird if you have an operatic voice, a rock voice and someone who sings hip-hop in the same group. Like with your style, your individual sounds should be different enough to be interesting, but similar enough to fit together nicely.
Can you practice your routines regularly?
You’ll need to rehearse and do vocal exercises together on a regular basis. This needs to be feasible in your location and timetables.
7 tips for singing in a group
It’s important to remember that girl groups and boy bands are only as good as their worst performer. It might seem an easier way of performing as there are more people in the group to share the roles, but it doesn’t always work out that way. At times you may have to carry other members, compensating for their mistakes – and if they forget lyrics or mess up, it could make you look bad too.
#1 Get vocal coaching
You may all already be having vocal coaching independently. If so, are all your teachers on the same page? It can cause confusion if you are being taught with very different approaches and styles. We recommend you also have group coaching, not only for vocals but for performing as a group. When there’s several of you it can make life much easier to have an independent eye on what you’re doing. You’ll need feedback.
#2 Harmonise as a group
Many girl groups and boy bands struggle because they fail to layer up their harmonies and instead make all the harmonies the same when singing in a group. Without layering the vocals you risk sounding like a solo act or by being slightly out of time can end up sounding like a car crash. When performing it’s important that the vocals layer up well to show off how diverse the act can be and what singing in a group can make you capable of.
Benefits of singing in a group
One of the good things about being in a vocal group is that you can attract more fans than you possibly could by yourself. This is because, between you, you know more people. So if you all share your stuff with your social media followers, family and friends, you’ll be multiplying your reach instantly. This is something you should each do. But there are many tasks you can share out as well.
#2 Work collectively
Lighten your load and avoid confusion/duplication by dividing out jobs between the group. When you’re starting out, or working your way up, you won’t have a manager to look after you. Here are the jobs you’ll need to do.
- Liaise with bookers on gigs and requests for gigs
- Source new gigs
- Create your website and keep it updated
- Post across all social media channels
- Respond to incoming messages
- Upload content to streaming sites
- Managing any financial accounts and insurances (if you perform in public you may need public liability insurance)
- Find outfits and styling
- Choreography (unless you hire someone)
- Arrange for instrumental backing or download tacks
#4 Interact and engage with one another
It is even more important to ensure that you work the dynamics individually to work collectively while singing in a group. Just because individuals singing in a group have their own role, doesn’t mean that there can’t be interaction within the group. Interaction and engagement with each other can show chemistry and unification. This is all part of an act’s image. You want fans to feel that you are fun and want to be part of the group. It’s often difficult for groups to interact with each other, as they’re too focused on what they have to do.
To avoid this it’s best to work out how to interact with each other when rehearsing for your performance.
Advice on singing in a group
There’s another significant aspect of interacting as a vocal group – feuds and fallings out. Almost every major brand has had these kinds of issues, famously causing the eventual (temporary) breakups of the likes of mega girl and boy bands the Spice Girls and Take That. Fortunately, these groups were strong enough to eventually get back together.
- Develop good communication. This means being honest and open with one another about how you feel but expressing it sensitively and considerately.
- As well as expressing yourself, you should listen and value your bandmates options. Give them space to have their say.
- Always have each other’s back. No matter if you’ve just had a row, never let it show on stage.
- Say sorry when you need to.
- Make time to have fun together and do things unconnected to singing. This will strengthen your bond.
#5 Think about your image
For a group of singers, there is a stronger need for the image to be worked on because you need to look like an act, not like you’re singing in a group of individuals. The art of synchronisation is something all duos and groups should master to look more like a group.
Having a strong image, as with any act, is even more important with a girl group or boy band to express an identity that can help to develop the act as a brand. Look at your current style and image and see how you can work with that – what can you bring out in each person that would create a running theme? You could consult a stylist, a PR, or get help with your branding via a studio’s artist development services.
#6 Practice your routines
Singing in a group or duo you should bank on having to work twice as hard to get it flawless, especially in terms of performance. Just singing won’t be enough. A good way of enhancing a performance singing in a group or duo is by incorporating a routine into a performance. This keeps the audience watching and shows the group are more than just individuals singing, they are a group that can sing and perform.
Get it right and it can work with powerful effect, get it slightly wrong and it can come across as very amateurish. As always the key is practice and preparation make perfect.
#7 Assign or hire a choreographer for dance routines
Dance routines need to be tight and professional. Many groups assign this role to a great dancer in the group (you may want to consider finding someone with these skills when putting the group together). Or if you can afford it, you might prefer to hire someone to do the job. Dance students can be fantastic for this when you’re on a budget.
If you’re not planning full-on routines, you’ll still need some basic choreography to work out what you do physically, when on stage. This can be as simple as all stepping forward on a key change. If there’s no structure, be careful it doesn’t look messy.
Singing group auditions
You will likely have seen it happen many times on X-Factor. A group or duo auditions and doesn’t make it through, but the judges like the voices of one or two members and ask them to continue as solo acts, or as part of a different vocal group. This is hard to take if you’re not picked and raises a dilemma for those who are – do they abandon their group? Always maintain goodwill with your band members and try to be happy for them, if they do find success separately.
Entering a group singing competition
Before you enter a competition, make sure you’re on top of your game. The quality of the band’s output will reflect on you individually especially if you’re singing in front of important and influential people. Get it right and it can work with powerful effect, get it slightly wrong and it can come across as very amateurish. As always the key is practice and preparation to make everything perfect before your audition day. Don’t forget to warm-up together beforehand and drill the group in every aspect of your performance.
Being part of a vocal group, be it a band, or a choir can be one of the best experiences you can have in the industry if it’s with the right people and you learn to work as a team. You might make friends for life and do some of your best ever singing performances with the group. Nadine Coyle certainly felt this way about her time in Girls Aloud. In a fiercely competitive industry, it can be really nice to have others around who are in the very same boat. Not only do you have a vocal group, but you also have a loyal support network too.
- What do you call a group of singers?
A large group who sing in harmony is usually called a choir. Two singers are a duo, while 3 to around 10 contemporary singers are usually a group or band. A cappella singers are referred to as groups, while a classical group will likely fall under the choir or chorus terms.
- What are the four main vocal ranges?
Voices are characterised by their most comfortable range. This is broken down as follows… Women = altos, mezzo-sopranos and sopranos. Men = bass, baritones and tenors.
- How do you get a band together?
If you’re looking for instrumentalists, jams and open mic nights are great. Many people advertise for members on forums like Gumtree, Craigslist, performing arts and music websites or via social media channels.
Are you part of a girl group, boy band or duo? Have you performed in a vocal group in the past? Leave a link to your music in the comments below.