Practicing Singing: Trusting the process and the art of sticking to it

 

As someone who teaches singing, you’ll often hear me touting the benefits of patience and trusting the process. “There are no quick fixes in singing.” I’ll say. Or, “I know this is frustrating now, but it will pay off in the long run.” “I can’t give you a specific timeline on this.” All of which, I know to be true through honest to goodness experience. I’ve seen it happen over and over again.

That doesn’t make it easy. Not for you and especially not for me. Despite my ease in preaching on the subject matter, I find patience with the process very difficult. I want a quick fix, too. I’d like to be able to clearly give instruction, have understanding, and voila. Lalala!

But, it’s not quite like that and when you preach patience to singers, you couldn’t be saying anything more annoying.  “Shouldn’t this be natural?”, they’ll say. “I’ve already been doing this for a year!” or “Umm, my audition is tomorrow.”

I know, I know, don’t forget, I’m a singer, too. But, my timing and your timing are not the same timing as that of your voice. Friends, understanding this may just be the key to finding your quickest route to sustainable success.

Am I saying I know some sort of formula? No, not really but I have observed that those who have success the most quickly are simply not afraid of the process and willing to stick it out. It’s an art, really… and one I’m not always skilled in. Why? Because sticking out the process can be long, complicated, and vulnerable.

Yea, some people move more quickly than others at certain things, but ask anyone who is good at something you admire about the process of getting there. You’ll find stories of struggle and the wisdom that comes with time.

What about natural ability? Sure, that factors in to the process, but I can tell you I’ve come across many naturally gifted singers who struggle to learn.  Additionally, I’ve worked with many very beginning, uncoordinated singers who end up making quick and amazing process. There is more at play than what comes naturally.

Recently I had a week full of breakthrough teaching moments. Maybe it was something with the moon or just the mysterious way things can all of the sudden fall into place, but three different singers who have studied with me for quite some time had surprise moments of success. Two of these singers have worked with me for over two years and have had real moments of doubt along the way, and if you want the truth, I have too. I’ve never doubted their abilities, but I’ve certainly doubted my role in the process. “Maybe I’m on the wrong path?” I’d silently think. “Maybe I’m not the right fit as a teacher?” or “There has to be something I’m missing?” All of these questions have plagued me, and I have felt inadequate along the way. But, despite those feelings of doubt, I’ve made a practice of staying positive, highlighting small victories and being honest about what seemed to not work at the time.

As for the singers? Well, they’ve stuck to it; coming to sessions routinely, trusting what I say and celebrating incremental improvements. They’ve had doubt, too, but they’ve accepted it as a component of growth, whether they felt like it or not. It’s been hard, but then all of the sudden… something happens! The mind clicks. The body shows up. The works pays off and sounds come out that are new and unexpected and exhilarating.

It’s admirable and valuable!

Friends, this is formula AND process. As we work to find more coordination in your body to create a more beautiful sound and improve your singing voice, we must all trust that if we are truly open to change, along the way we’ll feel frustration and doubt. But, if we do what we know how to do, stick it out (and this is the hard part) for an undetermined amount of time, we will find change in the right time! We will find ourselves better than where we began. Isn’t that what we all want?

Sure, we can get your ready for your audition tomorrow and we might even get your body to really show up in your very first session, but if you want something significant and long-lasting, are you ready to stick to it?

I am, because despite my doubts, I’ve seen it play out and I know it’s worth it.

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