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Acting in Plays, Singing/How is the voice career really like?


Hi Mr Martinfield,
I love to sing and I want to become a singer when I am older. However, my family does not support me since they say that it is hard to make money out of singing. I want to go to a music college to pursue my dream, but they say that it is more realistic that I go to a medical school instead. They think that I should have a stable job and sing as a pat time job. I truly love to sing and so I want to know how hard is it to become a successful singer (one that performs in musicals) and can singers support themselves financially along the way? Also, I need advice on what I should do in order to prepare for my application for music colleges. Thank you very much.

Hello, Kelly –

Thank you for the question. As a professional singer, I appreciate all your concerns.

What I cannot do on this web site is to provide you the depth of career counseling that you clearly need in order to make a final decision about your College major – especially in co-operation with your parents who will be paying the bills.

No singer I have ever known or worked with wants "to become" a singer when they are older. They are a singer right now. They are singing something in front of somebody or some audience right now. They come to study with me because they know I can assist them with becoming better singers and more marketable musicians right now – not just years from now.

Assuming you are in high school, by the time you graduate you should have a list of performance credits as long as your arm. Because? That's who you are and what your parents and relatives and teachers and friends watch and hear you do all the time. Of course she's going to be famous!

If you wanted to be a Doctor, you wouldn't be dreaming about singing under a spotlight.

If you believe that a B.A. in any branch of the Performing Arts, i.e., Music, Dance, Theatre, is going to better guarantee your financial security as a singer, then you need to register into the best Conservatory or University (with a solid gold reputation for grinding out successful performers) that you can afford or max-out on your credit card. Even so, you must audition first. There are only so many slots available per semester. You will be competing with dedicated and experienced performers from all over the world. If you don't get accepted, then what? What is Plan B?

As a patient, I don't want to be served by some corporate Doctor who was forced by his or her parents to go to Medical School.

Though I had to exercise a lot of diplomacy in order to convince my parents that becoming a Theatre Arts major was the best decision ever (and it was), I also had a long list of performance credits and awards to back-up my argument. In addition to that, I had the encouragement of my teachers and counselors at school. I auditioned successfully and was accepted into the best University with the best Theatre Arts Department in the state. Good thing! I had no Plan B. There was nothing else I wanted "to become" – especially, when I would be older. Older? By how much? I had already proven myself as a performer. I knew I needed to become better.

More importantly, I really wanted to earn my B.A. I love to go to school. I'm very proud of my degree, even though some folks (outside the performing arts) believe it's totally useless -- just like a degree in Musical Theatre. "How are you going to put food on the table with that?"

Easy! You just have to be in the right place at the right time and work your ass off.

What fueled my singing career – what sustained my ability to pay my bills with the sound of my voice – was to sing a certain genre of music. I was fortunate to work with private coaches who were themselves successful performers in the area of music I wanted to do.

What do you want to sing?
Where are you singing right now? Where will you be singing six months from now, a year from now?

Get involved with anything musical at your school. Stay alert as to what's going on culturally in your local community. Where is the nearest community playhouse? When are their next auditions? What musical theatre pieces do you know that you could sing at a general audition?

Your job as a wannabe performer includes knowing about The Business of Musical Theatre. In other words, everything that an Agent knows. Especially stuff about Contract negotiation.

Who knows? You may suddenly come up with Plan B.

I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm also an entertainment critic for – and Classical music reviewer for – Let me know when you're ready to come to San Francisco for some vocal coaching.

Check out my web site:

See my recent interview with popular TV host, David Perry, on "Ten Percent":

Below are links to my articles and youtubes on the San Francisco Bay Area entertainment and cultural scene:

Peggy Cummins Honored at San Francisco's Noir City Film Festival

"Christmas Holiday" – at the Deanna Durbin Festival, Stanford Theatre, 12/21-23

In Conversation with Peter Gallagher – Coming to the Venetian Room

Melody Moore steps into Tosca — Opening Night at San Francisco Opera

Patricia Racette – A Definitive 'Tosca' at San Francisco Opera

'Moby-Dick' opens at San Francisco Opera: A Conversation with Composer Jake Heggie

Vasily Petrenko, BRIT Male Artist of the Year, Conducts SF Symphony, 10/5–6

Marco Vratogna Is Sensational as Rigoletto at San Francisco Opera

A conversation with Joshua Bell, featured guest artist at opening of SF Symphony, 9/19

San Francisco Opera Opens 90th Season With Verdi's 'Rigoletto'

Jazz vocalist Nicole Henry makes San Francisco debut

Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford duke it out at The Castro Theatre's 90th Anniversary

San Francisco, starring Jeanette MacDonald, to be featured at the Castro Theatre's 90th Anniversary

The Wizard of Oz Meets the San Francisco Symphony

The "It" Girl, Clara Bow, A Featured Star at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, July 12–15

Jun Kaneko's 'Magic Flute' Is Stunningly Visual

Samuel Ramey is Leo the Great in San Francisco Opera's 'Attila'

'Victor Herbert, Collected Songs' – A Great CD

Tom Judson Is Making It Big In San Francisco

A Chat with Dominique Labelle, featured this week in PBO's 'Alexander's Feast'

A Look at Gennadi Nedvigin, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet

Organist Christopher Houlihan Makes A Powerful Debut at Davies Symphony Hall

RICHARD WINSOR – An Interview With the Star of 'Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in 3D'

EDDIE MULLER – On the Slow Death of 35mm – An Interview with the "Czar of Noir"

DEANNA DURBIN – The Leading Lady of NOIR CITY, Wednesday at The Castro Theatre

THOMAS JANE – An interview with the star of HBO's "Hung" and 3D Thriller "Dark Country"

KRISTIN CLAYTON– A Conversation with "The Diva" of Teatro ZinZanni

DIANE BAKER – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

CAMERON CARPENTER – An Interview with Seán Martinfield

AT LAST! – ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY – An Interview with Seán Martinfield

MARNIE BRECKENRIDGE – An Interview with “La Princesse” of Philip Glass’ Orphée

A Conversation with Elza van den Heever

CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca

A Look At "Giselle" with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo

ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

Acting in Plays, Singing

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Sean Martinfield


I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: I am also a music and cultural critic for and I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.


As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at:


San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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