JT Stokes, a senior from Freehold, New Jersey who specializes in general music with a focus on vocal performance, offered advice for people who want to sing but aren’t confident enough. According to Stokes, it doesn’t matter if others think a person is a bad singer. He encouraged them to let go of their fears, even though that “is easier said than done”.
Stokes said he understands why people may be afraid to sing, as it can involve putting a vulnerable part of themselves out there. However, he said they should focus on what makes them happy. “Why be afraid to do something that will [them] happy?”
Singing students who are part of BYU–Hawaii ohana advised aspirants to learn to play an instrument, practice often, and sing loudly if it brings them joy.
Stokes said he had been singing since he was 6 or 7 years old. When he was very young, he said he loved Disney musicals and other animated films that included singing, such as “Mulan”, “Cinderella”, “Anastasia” and “Aladdin”.
He said he would sing the soundtracks of these films in the house. When he was 8, Stokes said he started singing in a choir and started singing lessons at 14. He explained that singing is an outlet he uses to release his emotions, and he likes to see the impact it has on the audience.
For example, when he played King Triton in a production of “The Little Mermaid,” he said, “There were a lot of children watching. To see all the smiles on their faces [made it] so gratifying. Stokes added that music tells stories and allows people to “build great relationships.” He explained, “Music brings so much joy to life, and a life without music is a sad life.”
Ralph Mallapre, a senior from Cebu, Philippines who specializes in vocal performance, said that when he was young he didn’t like to sing because he didn’t like the feeling of being nervous in front of many people. . However, he added, he came from a musically oriented family in which all his nine siblings sing.
After winning second place, he said many composers asked him to sing their original songs. After the competition, he said he was inspired to learn more about singing and eventually become a professional singer.
He said his end goal was to be a versatile performer by knowing how to act, dance and sing. “Right now, I’m improving my singing skills. And after I graduate, I might join a theater company or a company where they focus on…singing or dancing.
Find a friend in music
Mitzi Lilian Yañez Lizama, a second-year psychology student from Chile, said she couldn’t remember when she started singing, but she said she always liked it. When she was around 10, she said she always recorded herself singing, going to karaoke, and singing covers.
She said that at the time, she idolized a Spanish rapper called Porta because of his song lyrics, which involve important, taboo topics such as eating disorders, abuse and self-love. When she joined her school choir at 14, she said she started taking singing seriously. “It was a very important moment for me because I needed to audition, which I had never done before.”
To cope with this new experience, she said she would think to herself, “Okay, I’m going to get out of my room, or my ‘cavern’, and show this talent to other people. …I don’t know if it’ll be okay, but I’ll try.
Yañez Lizama said that being part of the choir turned out to be a good experience because the choir instructor was good at helping them individually. She said her choir instructor knew the voices, weaknesses and strengths of each member of the choir because the choir was quite small. They were able to perform in different schools and participated in a national competition. The competition was a positive experience, she added, even though they reached the last round and then lost.
Yañez Lizama added that she stayed in the school choir until she graduated from high school. The choir, she said, sang both classical and Latin music. “Not Latin of Latin music, [but] Latin from Greek,” she explained. She added that she sang the soprano part 2.
Today she shared that she is part of the BYUH College Choir. Music is a friend to her as she said it would be there all her life, comforting her through words.
Advice from experienced singers
Stokes said people told him he was born with a good voice, but he said that although he was gifted with a beautiful tone of voice, he practiced a lot to become a good singer. “Hard work pays off,” he explained.
Besides practicing singing every day, he says he is always at the piano. “I listened to my repertoire, at least for my singing lessons, constantly and practiced with him,” he added.
Mallapre’s advice to people who want to sing is to be patient. “Being a good singer takes time. It takes a lot of practice. He added that if a person knows how to sing but does not practice, he will not improve.
He said he trained almost every day for an hour and a half. Mallapre sings and hums all the time even if he’s just walking or heading to his room. “I really don’t care what people might think when I sing out loud,” he said.
Yañez Lizama’s advice for budding singers is to learn to play an instrument in addition to singing. She said it will help them “become familiar with notes and provide ‘aural training’ or necessary aural skills where singers and musicians learn to identify pitches, rhythms, chords and other concepts of music theory by ear.