When it comes to vocal wellness, it is unquestionable that every lifestyle decision we make impacts our singing. Here are 6 non-negotiables to consider, and yeah, I know, no one is perfect, but becoming aware of these factors can be huge for your singing progress!
SLEEP HYGIENE: Sleep is so important for your voice. If you aren’t sleeping well your voice isn’t going to function adequately because when the body is tired the voice is tired. If you’re having trouble sleeping reach out to a medical health professional to get the root cause of your sleeplessness. One tip: sleep experts suggest shutting off electronics 1 hour before bedtime. So stop scrolling and sleep. (hard to do!). Try meditation or light stretching before bed. Tell yourself this is for the health of your body, but also your instrument. Your voice needs your body to rest adequately every single night in order to recover.
VOICE HYGIENE: Voice Hygiene includes overall care for your voice, including HYDRATION, and staying away from anything toxic. Your voice is going to function way better when you prioritize voice care. Consulting with a Laryngologist or Voice Therapist on the condition of your vocal folds can really help you get a sense of what steps you need to take. Consider how your use your speaking voice throughout the week, and how much talking you do. Are you taking breaks in between meetings. Throw is some ‘straw work’ here and there to ‘reset’ your voice if you have a heavy vocal load of speaking.
LESSONS and TRAINING: At some point if you haven’t already, you gotta check-in with a voice teacher. Regular lessons can help you stay in track vocally and help you move away from habits that don’t serve you and move you towards better muscle memory. Also, if you have a break in your voice or you can’t reach those high notes, training with a teacher is going to help. If you aren’t able to do lessons at this time, find some vocal workouts online. (check out my free vocal workouts!)
CONSISTENT PRACTICE: Stay consistent with your practice because even though it may seem like you’re not getting anywhere, trust me hang in there you will start to see results. Notes that were once difficult or unattainable are now at your fingertips!
OPTIMISTIC MINDSET: Mindset matters! Stay optimistic, look at how far you’ve come! Reach out for support if you’re finding it hard to cultivate a sense of optimism.
PATIENCE: I know it’s not easy, but be patient with yourself, progress doesn’t usually happen over night.
Do you wanna know the truth about singing? It’s simple. It’s maybe not what you think.
If you’ve been taking lessons with me for a while, you’ve probably heard me say this 100 times and guess what, I’m gonna keep saying it:
Singing is a skill that requires consistency in training and practice.
Eye-rolling? Hear me out…
Let’s look at the reasons why this truth is so hard for us to digest.
Instantaneous mindset: We live in an instantaneous world. If I want tacos, (yum tacos!) I just click on my food ordering app, and my tacos will arrive in under 20 minutes usually. It’s baffles me every time.
Well vocal development isn’t like this. Improvement usually happens in small increments over longer periods of time. If we don’t see those small improvements immediately, there is a tendency to get discouraged and sometimes throw in the towel.
The reason why people give up so easily is that we want immediate confirmation that we are either “good” or “not good”. If that’s the case, then you’re most likely singing for the wrong reasons. Let’s look at that a bit more…
Either you ‘have it’, or ‘you don’t’ mindset: Some singers may have grown up in environments that nurtured their musicianship and singing skills from a very young age. So they have been singing for much longer. And their skill and expression is way more developed because it was encouraged and celebrated! So we hear those singers and we think “they really have it”. Meanwhile we don’t know their history and how long they have been training and practicing for.
If you’ve come to singing later in life, don’t fret. If your goal is to improve your skill, then keep your focus on the skill building. You have to learn to shut off that story that tells you either you ‘have it’ or ‘you don’t’. That story will show up in your training and practice especially when you hear a bad note coming out of your mouth. Yikes! It’s scary. But trust me, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just part of the process.
So how can we move past this?
Cultivate a ‘childlike mindset’ around singing:
I’ve worked with children and teens over the years, more often than not, they are so free in using their voices. They aren’t worried whether they are good or not. They are present-moment beings. Most of the time they are ego-less in their approach to singing. They just sing and have no problem making sound and using their voices depending on the age of course.
As adults, we rely so heavily on confirmation that we are good. We want that validation. We want reassurance. We’ve built up a lot of walls. We wouldn’t dare sing a wrong note.
But what would happen if you allowed your 5 year-old self to step forward during your practice and training. What would happen if your focus was on the task of skill building? Singing would most likely become way more enjoyable and guess what results would start to happen.
Need a singing reset? Check out my vocal workouts!
I got the chance to do quite a few live Q&A with many of my colleagues last year. I am so excited to do more in 2021!
Super thrilled that yesterday I got to interview Vocal Mindset Coach Keziah from the UK! She has such great insight on confidence, mindset, nerves and preparing for auditions and live performances. Check out our live Q&A!
View this post on Instagram
Thank you to all who attended our Singing After Vocal Injury webinar!
Thanks again to Sherri Zelazny from the Surrey Voice Clinic for co-presenting with me on such an interesting topic.
I have been teaching for over a decade and I can always tell when a client comes to their lesson having practiced. Their voices are usually stronger, more balanced, and way more equipped for challenging song phrases. If you haven’t been a consistent with your practice, don’t even sweat it, don’t make time for ‘practice guilt.’ Instead just get right back into it. But, how exactly should we practice? Is there a method to getting this ‘right’?
This is the beauty of having your lesson recording. When listening back, try not to focus on how you sound in the lesson recording, and focus more on what the exercises feel like as you sing along. If you like to take notes, jot down some of the coaching tips I give you as you’re singing. Or make a mental note of what coaching points are always repeated, chances are those are habitual patterns that need to be worked on.
Here are some tips to help get you started on a more regular focused practice.
1) Pick 3-4 days at the start of your week and schedule in your practice times (no less than 3 days per week) – yes actually type or write this into your schedule, the time in which you are going to be practicing
2) Aim for 20-40 minutes of practice – with periods of rest – this may increase to one hour as you advance – always make time for short increments of vocal rest during your practice – straw work and sips of water etc.
3) Don’t go straight to your songs without working through the scales – scales are going to help you progress better in the songs
4) Listen and sing along with your lesson recording.
5) Listen to the song(s) you are learning – active listening is paying close attention to the melody, follow along with the sheet music or lyrics, what is the singer doing, where does the song go?
6) Practice along with the singer – if you don’t have the correct melody, go back and listen to it again, if there is a riff that you need to learn, practice it slower – do you have precision and clarity on each melody note (approach notes and ‘not so important notes’ too!)
7) Having trouble on that one note? – take out the lyrics, and practice along with the vowel consonant combinations assigned (more details will be given in the application portion of the lesson)
8) Practice phrase by phrase, slowly – over and over again (3-5 minute increments)
9) Write down what came up for you that was challenging and bring that into your next session (you can also bring your practice journal in to share your progress)
10) Remember to have fun! The process of training is exciting and should be enlightening! Your voice will get stronger and more balanced and you will be able to sing more challenging material. Do not rush the process. Aim for progress vs perfection! It may not feel like you’re getting anywhere, but just keep going.
11) Change is good – if it doesn’t feel different from what you’re used to doing, chances are you aren’t making progress. Use this practice time to build better habits and better muscle memory which is going to feel different from how you approached singing before.
Remember, it’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency. Stick with a regular practice regimen for at least a month or two and you’ll start to see exciting results!