The Most Important Skill
Updated: Feb 17
It is the only 9 letter word you need to know. Well you may need others, but it is certainly the most important one I have come across since starting my life as a singer. Discipline is really the ultimate skill in the career of any musician. It is doing what needs to be done, even when ESPECIALLY when you don’t want to do it.
Great musicians happen when talent meets discipline and the two rise together.
Shelley Berg, American musician, orchestrator, arranger and conductor
For the last year I have been working onboard various cruise ships and ferries travelling the world and singing every day for crowds on their commute/holidays. Sound like an easy life right?
Let me tell you one thing ladies and gentlemen: unless you have indestructible vocal cords made from the toughest metal in the world and the emotional endurance of a black hole this job is not as easy as it sounds. One thing however can help make this job the dream you imagined. That my friends, is the art of DISCIPLINE. Without it even the toughest voice will struggle on the tougher contracts where performers are expected to work 4-5 hours daily for 4 months without a day off. ** I would like to point out this is the worst scenario I have heard of however it is a scenario that exists in the cruel world of cruising**
On paper it seems you work for a few hours a day, then have the time to relax and explore the big wide world you have come to visit. While this is all true there is one thing that when applying for this job that many singers – including myself – tend to forget. Your voice is an instrument, it is delicate, it is a part of you. There are days when it will feel flawless. There are also days when it will be flawed. Discipline comes in practice, performance, your warm ups and general day to day life. It can even be down to when you wake up, what you eat and where you go. What one singer does will not work for another. Each person is different, but I hope these posts will help the aspiring singer to work out what it is he/she needs implement into his/her daily routine to make their voice the most effective and durable instrument it can be.
The next few posts I am publishing will outline why being disciplined in your practice and vocal health will be invaluable in your pursuit of a successful music career both on land and at sea. I say these things from experience and hope those in the process of pursuing a career in this ruthless industry.
Discipline in your practice, performance and everyday life will mean your voice won’t burn out, you will be less prone to sickness and your job will be a hell of a lot easier. Your road to progression will be a lot smoother and results will come quicker as you build skills gradually over time. Discipline applies to both your dedication to practice and your dedication to well-being. As a singer they must co-exist. One cannot overshadow the other.
There really are none. Initially it will feel like a chore. Sometimes you will want to do nothing. Other days you will want to do everything all at once. The discipline we vocalists need is to find the balance. But once the effects become apparent I’m sure those unwilling feelings towards practice and technical training will soon fade away.
Irrespective of whether you too wish to pursue a career on cruise ships, or if your passion for music takes you elsewhere in the industry; discipline is the cornerstone to any great career. Some people will really have to work at it. Others are lucky enough to not. Whichever person you are it doesn’t matter – and I hope the posts that follow will help you reading to understand the essential aspect discipline can play in the life of a vocalist.
For now, that is all from me! Check back in soon for more from AliceWilliamsM