There are few things more disappointing than not making progress at singing. And there are few things more disappointing to a voice teacher than hearing: ‘I didn’t get to practice this week’.
It’s a vicious cycle because if you don’t practice singing, you don’t make progress. And if you don’t make progress, you don’t want to practice anymore. How to break the cycle?
(This article is more or less a transcript of my video below)
Why do you lack the motivation?
Many of us find it hardto evenstart practicing. Maybe you don’t believe that practicing will actually make things better. Or you view practicing as homework and not as fun. Or, thirdly, you get frustrated during practice because you don’t get the results you want.
Let’s zoom in on the third reason. It’s the most common among students (and myself). If we tackle this one, the belief and the fun will come.
Why is it harder to get results practicing alone?
With your teacher you practiced a few things that really helped you. You take these home and find out they don’t work anymore, or not quite in the same way. Why is that? Because what you did in the lesson and what you do at home are two different things. Or, to break it down:
1. You can’t see or hear yourself from the outside.You can’t give yourself the same feedback that the teacher gave you. A fundamental problem, but one that can be worked around, as we’ll see below.2. You forget what you’ve learned in the lesson.Such as exercises or the teacher’s remarks. So you don’t know how to begin to practice or you don’t know how to move on through the practice itself.3. You’re too busy getting bummed when things don’t work out.You’re trying an exercise and it doesn’t work well. You beat yourself up about it, wasting time while you could progress working on your singing. This leads to you not being objective. You can’t calmly assess where the problem is and how to solve it.4. You learned something in the lesson that your body is not used to doing.This will take time! Better technique won’t establish itself immediately and won’t manifest itself 100% of the time, not in the beginning at least. It won’t come out consistently the way you want.
Keys to effective voice practice at home
So, let’s finally talk about the solutions. How do you make singing practice sessions at home more effective and more pleasant?
1. Make sure to hear and see yourself from the outside
About listening to yourself: one way is to record your practice sessions at home and listen to yourself. I highly recommend this.
And secondly, and paradoxically, you should ignore how you sound while you are singing. I know it’s strange! But the way you sound on the inside can be misleading: it is not the same as how you sound on the outside. So you’re much better off focusing on how it feels in the throat, how and where the vibrations and resonances are in the body. Pay attention to the sensations, and not to how you sound.
Concerning seeing yourself, you can film yourself and you can look in the mirror. Pay attention during the lesson to your teacher’s pointers. At home, you’ll be your own teacher. It’s up to you to look in the mirror and see if you are doing as you were instructed.
2. Record your lessons
You MUST RECORD YOUR LESSONS. This will guarantee that you won’t forget things. You record the lesson or film it. Filming is actually better, because when you see yourself you’ll realize quicker what you did right or wrong. So you can use these recordings to watch or listen back and remember.
You could also use the recordings to warm up, if you are not sure how to start. Press play and sing along.
3. Make a list
After the lesson, take a few minutes to write down a list of all the things that helped you. This way, you’ll cover all your bases and you’ll know what to focus on practicing at home.
4. Stop beating yourself up
If you understand how the voice works, and if you know how long it takes to change old habits, you’ll beat yourself up less.
Reinforcing bad feelings is counterproductive to motivation. The last thing you want to do is to be too harsh on yourself. Every time you feel yourself getting annoyed, bummed or frustrated, realize this:
It WILL TAKE TIME for the body to get used to new habits. But IT WILL HAPPEN more and more easily with time.
That is, if you don’t waste time beating yourself up about it 😛
What is your challenge?
What is your hurdle, where do you get stuck? Let me know in a comment.