March 31st, 2016

Becoming a professional singer as an adult

Setting: modern-day USA.

My protagonist planned to be a professional singer (classical/opera) throughout her childhood and adolescence. She was considered extremely talented and was enrolled in a prestigious music school. At age 19, after a personal tragedy, she decided to give up singing and play the violin instead.

Fast-forward ten years: she's 29, a professional violinist, has a job as first violinist / concertmaster for a major symphony orchestra. Then, for personal reasons, she decides to try singing again. She has not sung at all in the intervening time.

I've done enough googling to feel that it's within the realm of possibility that she could develop her voice well enough to build a singing career at this age (I mostly googled "become a professional singer as an adult" and similar phrases) and I'm willing to stretch the bounds of plausibility somewhat. But specifically I'm trying to figure out:

a. How long would it take for my character to get her voice into professional performance condition?
and
b. Is it feasible that she could do so while continuing to hold down her job as a professional violinist?

With regard to "a," none of the sites I've looked at about vocal coaching / learning to sing, etc., are willing to make any definitive statements on how long it takes to develop a singing voice and build a career. I understand that, of course; I'm sure it varies a lot and depends on lots of different factors. But I need some kind of time frame - it doesn't have to be very specific, more of a range. Six months, a year, five years...?? My character does have advantages over someone starting "from scratch" as an adult - presumably she has muscle memory, remembers the basics of breath control and vocal technique, etc., plus of course she knows all the music theory that she would need. But I presume it will still take her some amount of time to re-develop the appropriate muscles and so forth.

As for "b," I wasn't able to get anywhere with searches like "being a professional singer and violinist" or "professional singer and instrumentalist" or even "playing two instruments professionally." I guess it's an unusual enough situation that no one does this kind of thing? I gather there are people who play, for example, the flute and piccolo, or the alto and bass clarinet, i.e. instruments that are very similar. But I couldn't find any info on playing an instrument and singing professionally.

So I did some searching/reading about schedules and time commitment. I gather that professional violinists practice around 1-4 hours per day, and singers are advised not to practice much more than 1-2 hours per day at risk of damaging the voice. So, just in terms of the amount of time needed per day, it seems like this should be possible. But I'm sure that isn't the only consideration.

Thanks in advance for any guidance!