So often when a new student begins their journey of creating their dream voice it is apparent that they are stuck trying to ‘hit’ notes. Often, many of these singers have attempted forms of vocal exercises before thinking that this would benefit them until I ask them one question, “What is your focus/ aim within that exercise?” Usually, this is followed by a long pause or an errrrrrrm… until they take a stab in the dark and answer with something like “to hit all the notes”. Okay, this is something that we all desire, being able to sing high with what we think feels like power but what is the point in singing these notes if they don’t sound good? Just because we can hit a pitch it doesn’t mean that it sounds good.
The sound is the important aspect that a lot of us fail to focus upon whilst practising.
We instead and instinctively aim for what it feels like. We think we are focusing on the sound but actually, we are listening to whether we hit the note with enough force that we feel it needs.
Does it feel big? Does it feel powerful?
Replace the word ‘feel’ with the word ‘sound’.
Does it sound big? And does it sound powerful?
Regularly with singing the feeling doesn’t match the sound. It takes some mental programming for a student to understand that the sound we desire doesn’t necessarily match the preconceived feeling. Upon hearing notes we tend to conjure up an idea of how we expect they should feel which, in the majority of new singers, causes problems.
The only feeling that I teach my students is the feeling of freedom. If there is tension or an abundance of pushing then something is going wrong. You are trying too hard.
Exercises targeted at a tension and worry-free voice will develop your voice quicker and will deliver more valuable results. Aimlessly singing with a loud hard sound (though it can give you the impression you are gaining a loud hard sound) ironically, will mostly produce a voice that sounds weak and out of control. At first, the range might not where you want to be but…
give it some time and dedication…
and you will be singing up and over these pitches with ease and with the flexibility to change the power effortlessly. You will be in complete control of your voice instead of your voice/brain controlling you!
Tone, volume and emotion are just as (if not more) important and often sacrificed when practising. Thinking about pitch tends to make you worry about the said pitch and causes an uneasy tension when singing higher in the range. Train the flexibility, train the freedom and remove the metal block of ‘feeling equals the desired sound’. Don’t attempt to practise too much at a time, set targets to gain the freedom in the exercises and have a clear goal in mind that is realistic. Eg. Transition through the voice clearly, practise at a certain volume without a crescendo, discover a way to sing a certain pitch with ease and clarity, start working towards a sound you desire. If you struggle with goals, this is where you need a good teacher who understands your needs and can give you a clear path to take with your vocal development.
I will leave you with a quote a very wise teacher once taught me:
Practise makes permanent, not perfect.
Perfect Practise makes Perfect.