As a vocal coach, I can tell you I love "American Idol" season. Business booms as kids across America decide they are the next Idol and nag their parents into investing big bucks in their pop star futures. As tantalizing as quick cash is though, I usually turn away more students than I accept for one simple reason -- your kid can't sing.
Here's what's fooling you into thinking they can.
Shower acoustics lie. If you've been evaluating your child's star potential through a closed bathroom door, think again. Sound reverberates off the tiles and steam absorbs the echoes so well your cat's meow could sound like a contender for Hollywood.
But they sound so good in choir... Your kid might be the star of their high school choir, but there is a huge difference between ensemble singing and becoming a solo artist. Choirs are all about muting individual voices to blend into a pure whole. Even if your kid has been singled out to sing a descant or a solo line, they're still performing as one of a group. A solo artist not only has to stand out, they have to carry the show.
They sound so good with the radio, they should be on it! Or maybe not. Turn the volume down while they're singing -- chances are they're blending with the performer so well, they sound better than they really are. But even if your kid is able to mimic great performances, they still may not be a gifted performer. If your kid did manage to score a yellow ticket, they'd probably fall apart during Hollywood Week where they have to quickly learn older, unfamiliar songs. Why? Because they only have time to memorize notes and lyrics, and your kid's "talent" relies on copying the original artist's performance.
So, what do you do if you still think they can sing?
Chances are you're listening to your child with a supportive parent's ear and not an unbiased audience's ear, so your best bet is to get a second opinion. You can ask for a private meeting with your kid's choir director to evaluate their voice for solo potential. Or you can request a single session from a private vocal coach to determine if your kid is the next singing sensation, an individual evaluation ensures an unbiased ear is listening and not one worried about losing a potential client.
Performing is not just singing, so ensure your kid has what it takes outside of the practice room. If they're leaning more towards Broadway, get them into musical theatre both through their school and community troupes. If they're dreaming of a sell-out at Madison Square Garden, sign them up for open mic nights or let them form a band.
Whichever route you go, make sure your kid can make it on the stage before you encourage them to stand in line for the next "AI" audition or your kid might end up on the joke reel.
Is it harder to recover from public humiliation than privately accepting you don't have what it takes? Tell us what you think!