Practicing Singing: Am I getting any better?

 

October 6, 2014

 

Often at the beginning of a session with a regular client, I try and get caught up on their life. In an effort to develop trust I do my best to get to know a bit about the lives of the singers I work with. As a result, many become friends as well as clients. (This is one of the best parts of the job!)

After we’ve caught a bit on their life, my next question often is: “How’s your singing?”

There are three types of answers I get to this question.

1) “Good!”
2) “Good, I think. But….”
3) “Ehhh, I think I’ve plateaued. I’m not sure I’m getting any better.”

The first and second responses are of course my favorite to hear, but the third is actually my favorite to dig into. Why? Well, it’s important that as singers we know what it means to become better at our craft. Most of us (including yours truly!) are not patient with the process, let alone kind to ourselves about where we are in it. Therefore, if we can have practical ideas about what it is to become a better singer, we can strive to enjoy the steps rather than lament the absence of the finished product.

Before I dig into this, let’s make one thing clear: Improving your singing voice is possible, no matter who you are, but the time frame in which you can do it might not be fast. 0 to Beyonce in a week? Not likely. Sure, come into a voice lesson and we can help you make some new sounds you’ve not heard before. Getting them to stick? That takes time, just like every other change we ask of our body. Anyone try and diet lately?

With the whole timeframe not being quick thing, let’s dig deeper into what improvement can look and sound like.

Improvement means being able to do something you couldn’t do before or being able to do it better than you could before. Better could also mean with more accuracy and consistency. Singing at its core is coordination, so when we are accurate and consistent, it means we are better coordinated. But you’re probably thinking “Coordinated doing what? And how do I sound like Beyonce?”

In singing coordination often has to do with range (how high or low you voice goes), dynamics (how loud and soft you sing) and how easy, clear and free your voice sounds while exploring range and dynamics. Now there are absolute limits to range and dynamics, freedom and clarity? That’s debatable. Most singers we consider to be accomplished have a great freedom as they sing high, low, loud and soft.

In terms of application, let’s break those components down into questions you can ask yourself about your own voice.

What is my range? How high and low can I sing?
How does that compare to when I began singing? Last year? Last month? Last week?
Am I experiencing more ease in my throat as I go from high to low and back?

Can I sing with different volumes?
If so, where do I feel strongest?
Where do I feel weakest?
How does this compare to when I began singing? Last year? Last month? Last week?

What part of my voice is the most clear?
Which part is the least clear?
How does this compare to when I began singing? Last year? Last month? Last week?

When I sing either high, low, loud, soft and clearly, do I notice greater ease than when I began singing? Last year? Last month? Last week?

As a voice teacher, these are the questions I am asking myself about my client as we dig into exercises that encourage greater coordination. I’m listening for new sounds! Sounds that are more clear and leave the singers body in a way that sounds freer! Rarely do I have a session where this does not happen. Scratch that. NEVER has there been a session where this has not happened.  And, if I do my job well, I then point the new sound out to the singer and do my best to help them recognize what is better or different about it so that they can attempt to return to it again and again. That’s what practicing singing really is; attempting to duplicate good sounds and continuing to find new and different sounds based on the exercises the teacher has given.

Now, I’m going to save the application of sounds to songs for a later post, but our next step in improvement includes listening for the ways in which those new sounds show up in the songs we sing. Does our voice do what the song + our desire to express asks it to?

With the recognition of new sounds can come greater joy in the process of improving our voice! Pay close attention when you’re teacher says “That! There! Did you hear that? Did you feel that?” Believe them when they say it is better. Do your best to repeat it and be patient with yourself if you cannot. If you did it once, you’ll be able to do it again in due time.

comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe via RSS

Resources and Friends


Technique & Pedagogy
Somatic Voicework
Richard Miller 
William Vennard
Cornelius Reid

Chicago Laryngologists
Dr. H. Steve Simms
Dr. Aaron Friedman

Speech Pathologists
Kate Devore
Jan Potter Reed

Alexander Technique
John Henes

Massage
Four Hands Massage

Headshots
Ann Latinovich

Chicago Auditions
League of Chicago Theatres
Theatre in Chicago
Backstage
Chicago Artists Resource

Chicago Acting and Improv Classes
Act One
Acting Studio Chicago
Actor's Talent Group
The Artistic Home
Black Box
Green Shirt Studio
The Green Room
Improv Olympics
Second City

Chicago Choral Groups
CSO Chorus
Grant Park Chorus
Music of the Baroque
William Ferris Chorale
Bella Voce
Apollo Chorus
Lakeside Singers
Schola Antiqua
Chicago Choral Artists

Sheet Music
Sheet Music Plus
Music Notes
Hal Lenoard
Music Minus One
Download Music Minus One

Rehearsal  and Karaoke Tracks
Practice Tracks 
Pianos Tracks for Musicals
Audition Trax
MP3 Accompanist
Your Accompanist
Opera Karaoke
Sunfly Karaoke

 


Recent Entries

Announcement: VOXUS, A Team Building Experience
Listen: Davin sings Make You Feel My Love
Listen: Missy Wise sings Moments in the Woods
Announcement: Chicago Circle Singing at Davin Youngs Voice
Announcement: Meet our new studio assistant, Taylor Snooks
Practicing Singing: Trusting the process and the art of sticking to it
Announcement: Intro to singing through improvisation with Alison Wedding
Announcement: Musical Theatre Audition Workshop with Missy Wise
Announcement: Meet our new voice associate, Alison Wedding
Announcement: Open MIC | House - June 22, 5:30 - 8:30pm
Announcement: Open Mind / Open Body: connecting the voice community through Science + Sound
NEWS: one-year DYV-iversary! - Missy Wise
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 22
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 21
NEWS: 2014 A Year in Review
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 20
How to successfully give and get online voice lessons
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 19
Acting & Performance: The gift of curiosity - Kathryn Bartholomew
Singing & Performance: Growth & Authenticity - Missy Wise
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 18
Announcement: December Sessions Posted
Journal: Leave your baggage at the door. - Jeanne Nemcek
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 17
Singing & Performance: “I used to sing, but…”
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 16
Announcement: Creating a Character an Acting Workshop with Kathryn Batholomew
Singing & Performance: We’re all in this together! - Missy Wise
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 15
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 14
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 13
Announcement: “So, you like to #SING?” Voice Technique Workshop
Practicing Singing: Three things we need to do more of
Practicing Singing: Am I getting any better?
Announcement: Singer / Songwriter Workshop
News: Back to WGN with Patti Vasquez
News: Davin Youngs Voice on WGN Radio with Pete McMurray
Performance: Davin sings It’s Hard To Speak My Heart from Parade
Announcement: “I can #SING that! (Where song and technique meet.) Workshop
Journal: Somatic Voicework™, The LoVetri Method & My Voice Story
Singing & Performance: The Power of Stillness - Missy Wise
Journal: Davin + Missy @ NATS 2014 National Conference in Boston
Announcement: And the WINNER is…
Announcement: Kathryn Bartholomew, Acting Associate at Davin Youngs Voice
News: Davin Youngs Voice on Monocle Radio’s “The Entrepreneurs”
Announcement: Singing Technique Workshop, July 20, 3-5pm
Announcement: Win a 3-day pass to the Pitchfork Music Festival
Announcement: Meet our SINGtern - Linling Navarro
Technique & Singing: What You Should Expect of your Voice Teacher
News: Davin Youngs Voice on WCIU You & Me This Morning
Announcement: Meet our SINGtern - Jeanne Nemcek
Singing & Performance: What if singing were easy? - Missy Wise
DYV on the Town: A safe space to share your voice
Announcement: Monologue Workshop, May 31st, 11am -1pm
Announcement: We’re heading back to Davenport’s!
Fear & Singing: Why it can be so right to be wrong
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 12
Announcement: We’re Hiring (again!)
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 11
Announcement: Davin Youngs Voice Intern
Performance: Missy Wise sing Maybe This Time from Cabaret
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 10
APRIL FOOLS: Student Spotlight Interview No. 10
DYV On the town: Davin Youngs Voice invades Davenport’s Piano Bar
Announcement: #SING it’s #SPRING
News: Davin Youngs Voice - Hidden Yelp! Reviews
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 9
Performance: Missy sings Brave by Sara Bareilles
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 8
Journal: Confessions of a Voice Teacher and/or Finding our Authentic Voice
Performance: Davin & Missy sing Say Something
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 7
Practing Singing: Stuck inside? Why not #SING?
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 6
Announcement: Someone to introduce you to!
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 5
New Years Resolutions: #SING
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 4
Announcement: Fine Arts Building, Open Studios - December 13
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 3
Fear and Singing: Yes, you look silly.
Announcement: We’re Hiring!
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 2
Fear and Singing: What are we all afraid of?
DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 1
Singing & Performance: You were born to sing.