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There are things we train when we study singing that are quite obvious: pitch, voice tone, voice range, voice flexibility, repertoire, etc.
But there are other things we train when we study singing that are not as obvious.
Singing is not like any other instrument. Amongst its many particularities, there is one that changes the whole training: when you sing, you ARE your instrument. You can’t buy another voice at the music store!
And as our voice, mind and body are intimately connected, if you work on your voice you are at the same time working on both your mind and body.
As a holistic vocal coach and singing teacher, there is no other way to see it. Singing is an integral activity for our whole being, whether you realize it or not. In the process you will experience some important transformations.
In this article, I share with you just 3 of many!
This is a tough one. Sometimes I get some students that love practicing singing right away, but really they are an exception to the rule.
Learning to get discipline in your practice will make you GROW. Discipline in the singing practice allows you to have more creativity and freedom. Also, when you learn to be disciplined in your singing practice, you will get an invaluable skill for any other areas of your life that you want to work on.
Most singing students, when they start singing, say that they want to practice every day for an hour or so, because they are inspired and enthusiastic about it. However, the reality is that when the time comes to practicing, they always find an excuse NOT to do it.
Among the most common excuses not to practice singing, I hear these ones most often:
Practicing singing can take as little as 5 mins a day, so lack of time really is not a valid excuse.
I actually understand and relate to this one. We are vulnerable about our voice and it is important that we feel safe and comfortable in our practice space.
However, there are things you can do about it, and as a matter of fact, it is a creative activity to find a way to solve this problem. Here there are a couple of ideas:
At my singing studio at Auckland Singing School, my students have their lesson notes recorded in the student portal so they can access them during the week. Week after week at the end of the lesson I tell them what to practice for the following week.
Most teachers will do the same, so it is worth coming to your lesson with a notebook and asking your teachers what thing or two you need to focus on for the following week. It is not about practicing absolutely everything, even if you focus on one thing at a time you will be making progress in the whole system. Better to focus on one thing, than not having anything done.
Even the biggest superstar singers practice their singing daily, and have done it over many years to become the great singers they are. You get better by practicing. And most importantly, you learn to love your voice.
At the end of the day, the reason why we don’t practice is because it makes us feel uncomfortable. Growth is uncomfortable. Much more comfortable for the brain is to do what you always do with no changes! Practice requires mental effort.
So, when you are a singing student, eventually you learn to practice (which is a skill in itself). You learn to overcome the uncomfortable sensation of it, and eventually you learn to love it. I didn’t like to practice my singing exercises when I started singing. But now, I look forward to it everyday.
It is a skill you learn, and it does get easier every time. It is like any other habit! At first it takes lots of mental effort, and then as it becomes a habit, setting a time and committing to it to practice becomes effortless. Use your initial inspiration and motivation to set a realistic practice schedule (even 5 min a day), then stick to it 🙂
Well, maybe not caring is not the right expression. But one of the most common reasons people don’t show up and sing in front of others is because they are scared of what other people will think of them.
And again, it is normal and understandable. We still use a primitive part of our brains that considers being rejected as a survival threat.
But the good news is that it is not a real threat. We are going to survive even if people criticize us.
But you know what? If we stop doing the things we love because of what people think of us, then we will never do anything.
Haters’ gonna hate, complainers’ gonna complain, criticizers’ gonna criticize.
We will never be liked by everyone, and that is not about you. It is about them. This realization is one of the most important things we train when we study singing! The fact that someone might not like your voice doesn’t mean that your voice is bad. “I don’t like your voice” is not the same as “your voice is bad”, regardless of how people word it.
When you train as a singer, slowly you start caring less about what people think and showing up as yourself. And while you do it, you find that there are people that truly resonate with you, and that is what we should care about.
This doesn’t mean that you should go after your first singing lesson and sign up to be judged at “The Voice”. Remember, you have to feel safe to be able to slowly stretch your comfort zone.
At my singing studio at Auckland Singing School, we organize group events for people to sing in front of others and share their voice in a supportive, friendly and safe environment. This way you can slowly start getting more comfortable in a group environment and grow your voice.
Not worrying about what other people think about you is another skill that is hard to build. A lot of times we don’t do creative activities we would enjoy because of how we think people will criticize us. But again, the reason why we don’t do it is not because of the people themself, but for how we fear it will make us feel. What if we could deal with the uncomfortable sensation?
You do get better at that, and your uncomfortable sensation has less importance. And this skill is one of the most important things we train when we study singing. You learn it and develop it when you train as a singer, but it applies to any other activity you want to practice in the future.
How many things you don’t do because of what people will think? Dancing? Creating a blog? Creating a course? You name it. If you do anything good with your life, some people will criticize you. But it is not about you, it is about them. Criticizers’ gonna criticize anyway, so you might as well do what you want to do regardless. You will find your tribe, the people that resonate with you, and that is what matters.
Amongst the things we train when we study singing that are not directly related to singing, we have one of my personal favorites: the skill of not comparing yourself to others.
New singing students usually (but not always), get discouraged when after a month of lessons they still don’t sound like Celine Dion or Whitney Houston.
Slowly as time passes and you gain proprioception, you start appreciating the small improvements week after week and you start setting goals for your own voice.
You realize with your own practice, that the singers you love don’t really have a gifted voice that they don’t have to work on. Is not that they turn up to the stage and sing. There are many hours of practice and many years behind their amazing voices.
You learn that comparing yourself to any other voice is useless. When you understand how your voice works you will understand that every single voice is unique. Voices are never generic. You end up realizing that you are the only person that sounds like you on the entire planet! Isn’t that amazing? You are already the best at being you. You have a unique instrument, and therefore the only person you can actually compare yourself to is yourself.
Besides, you don’t get to hear the struggles of the singers you like when you hear their albums! You get to hear the perfected final sound, but never the struggles they went through to get there.
It is, of course, very valuable to get inspiration from other artists, but you shouldn’t really get discouraged because of how great they are. Instead, it should inspire you to be the best you can be today. I have had some students that left lessons and stopped singing altogether after a few months just because they were discouraged that they didn’t sound like a professional yet.
This is characteristic of a fixed mindset (read Carol Dweck’s work about this). If you stop even trying just because you are not the world’s best at something within a few months, then you are missing out on what you could be. You are wasting your potential.
Instead, try cultivating a growth mindset. Be curious, explore, learn from your mistakes, laugh at your mistakes! have fun in the process!
This is also a skill that you will be able to apply to any other area of your life. Learning is uncomfortable!
I am learning German, and I am a real beginner. Cultivating a growth mindset has allowed me to show up to my own study every day and be thirsty for learning more, regardless of how clumsy I am with the language. One day I might be fluent! One day I WILL be fluent, if I want to, I just have to stay in my lane and not stop the journey. How many new things would you learn and enjoy if you allowed yourself to?
If you want to train as a singer in Auckland or online, you are welcome to join us at Auckland Singing School. We are based in Glenfield (North Shore area, Auckland), and of course online!
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