Book Review


The Art of Singing Onstage and in the Studio

182 page paperback published by Hal•Leonard Books

by Jennifer Hamady

Review by T Max

The Art of Singing Onstage and In the Studio is a book everyone should read who is seriously interested in a career of singing. Part 1 sets the stage for the reader, covering a history of the voice and how far it has come from a one-on-one, real-time experience. Jennifer Hamady breaks down how speaking lead to singing and how communication has changed over a very long period of time.

While reading, sometimes I felt like I was lying on a therapists couch and other times listening to a mom warn her children of the possible missteps in life.  She covers a lot of ground on performance anxiety, relating it to how far we’ve come from being with people in such a natural way where there is no sense of performance. She explains herself like a musical scientist confidently digging as deep as possible into the psychology of the matters at hand.

Part 2 introduces us to the cast of characters that one, as a singer, will need to interact with to do his/her job in the studio or in a live situation. She lovingly breaks down the different personalities all with the intention of helping the reader sidestep common downfalls in many of the relationships. She deals with communication, intentions, expectations, responsibilities and personalties.

Mastering the tools of the trade is covered in Part 3. I enjoy the quotes she uses to get across some basic ideas, such as Einstein’s “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Pre-production, use of microphones and headphones, reverb and delay, compression and limiting, panning, and auto-tune are all tackled. She technical defines the tools used by a singer, whether the singer is aware of them of not. You don’t need to know what compression is to sing, but if you do, you’ll be able to communicate your needs much better to an engineer working your sound. She separately deals with the use of in ear monitors (plug-ins), offering troubleshooting ideas to make a singer’s life easier. I’ve seen countless artists, famous and less well known, on TV playing with their ear bud monitors, trying to adjust their live mix to effectively sing with a band or orchestra.

Part 4 is short and sweet. A kind send off with wishes of good luck and one of the most important things to remember… Well, it’s easiest for me to capture it by quoting legendary cellist Pablo Casals when he was asked why he continues to practice at the age of ninety. His reply was simply and honestly, “Because I think I’m making progress.” We never stop learning.

Jennifer Hamady is one of the great teachers in the business. She started as a vocalists working with Stevie Wonder, Christine Aguilera, Patti LaBelle, Wyclef Jean, and Def Leopard. She was a lead singer forCirque du Soleil, and a backup singer for American Idol. Her first book The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice remains a top seller in the field. She also conducts master classes and workshops on creative and vocal expression, and writes for Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Learn more about her at

Then at some points The Art of Singing transcends that of a teacher/student relationship and Jennifer Hamady’s inner spirit takes over and I felt like I was before a Native American sharing the inner secrets of life.

a lot of basics maybe not thought of by someone new to singing. It’s a mix of common sense and a breakdown of the history of speech leading to singing and how that communication has changed over a long period of time.

seems as if this is written for young teens who were interested in singing. Jennifer Hamady digs up every possible scenario that typical teenagers, with absolutely no knowledge of the business, could possibly find themselves in. But as I read on the book took on a more mature vision. Jennifer does a good job of explaining modern technology and the problems associated with it… I know I’ve seen countless artists on TV playing with their ear bud monitors, looking like they are not satisfied with the mix and how it’s effecting their singing.   She gives us a history of the voice in chapter three that brings up some pretty interesting points of what it was like before all modern achievements, including the written word.


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