Singing is a Skill

Singing is a unique form of expressing yourself unlike any other.  It involves the physical, psychological, and at times the spiritual parts of who we are.  In order to make progress in singing, a student must work in all of these areas.  Sometimes it’s not easy, but the rewards can be tremendous.  And, yes, everyone can sing!

If you want to take lessons, then you are saying that you want to improve, which involves change.  This means that by taking voice lessons you will be pursuing an ever-changing path.  This is not meant to discourage you, only to prepare you to achieve what you truly want.

I know this because it is borne out in my life.  Just when I think I have mastered something, an opportunity presents itself that nudges me out of my “comfort zone”. There are times when it is uncomfortable. . .  The good news is, that, just like a downhill skier, the more skilled you become, the less daunting the task. . .you know how to navigate the rough patches.  You just put into practice what you know and then learn to do it better each time!

Singing may seem simple, but it is an art that has been developed over the centuries.  And each individual voice has its own needs for developing and expressing itself.  Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own.  As an experienced performer and teacher, I have been through much of this process already and can help you to progress effectively.  Think of it as having your own personal tour guide on a trip—there is less chance for getting lost and more opportunity for having fun and enjoying the ride.

The Art of Studying Voice

Your voice is a vehicle for communicating in ways that nothing else can match.  But your communication will only be as good as your instrument (your voice).  So we want to make sure that it has the strength and flexibility it needs to operate optimally and healthily no matter what the style!  That is what technique and practice are for, and that is why it is important to have a teacher who knows how to work with and develop your voice! 

Here are some things to bear in mind as you consider studying voice:

1)   Singing is a skill that is developed over time—and it involves the whole body and the mind (as well as the heart)!

Very few singers have a natural gift and sing with healthy technique instinctively—most of us have to learn how to do this.  In lessons, students learn healthy technique that takes care of the voice--breath control, flexibility, range, musicality, and expression--these are key aspects of singing regardless of what you sing—musical theater, pop, rock, or opera.  Singing involves the whole body.  It is not enough just to know what to do, the singer needs to constantly train the muscles to actually do what is necessary. 

Nothing can replace consistent, attentive practice of vocal exercises—these are the tools necessary to build the foundation that is critical to reaching your goals.  Thus, singing is an active discipline that requires full attention, physical stamina, and commitment.

2) Old habits can change—but it takes repeating the new!

It takes lots of repeating to learn any new skill, and science has proven that our bodies and brains learn best through careful repetition.  Often our natural habits will get in the way, and a teacher is needed to identify these habits and give remedial exercises.  So even if a student is working on a “simple” song, there are usually several underlying skills being developed. In fact, the simpler the song, the easier it is to focus on improving one’s technique of healthy singing.  

3) You will get back as much as you put in!

This means that regular, consistent practice is key.  Like any muscle, the vocal apparatus works best when it is in good condition.  The teacher gives guidance, but it is up to the student to do the necessary work.  Progress will happen if the student is committed to practicing and improving his/her technique.  Just remember, “quality versus quantity”!  It is more important to repeat mindfully than to “put in the time” !

4) The joy of learning—be willing to risk!

Besides developing the singing voice, the student also needs other capabilities to be an effective musician and performer, unless you only plan to sing in the shower!  Depending on his or her goals, the student learns musical skills—everything from how to read music, to phrasing and interpreting, to discovering varied genres of repertoire, and perhaps even singing in foreign languages.  New vistas are opened and a lifetime of exciting discovery begins.  Students work on songs chosen by the teacher as well as by the student.  Work on performance skills and presentation are emphasized for those singers who have as a goal to perform in public.  Acting skills are also very important and give the student the dramatic choices that are critical to a convincing performance in any genre.

Performing can be scary.   Some people are naturally gifted in this area.  However, if you are not one of those people, there are techniques that I can teach you that will help you overcome some of the anxiety that most people have to deal with when they perform.  A student can learn skills to optimize the adrenaline that one needs in order to perform well without becoming overwhelmed and incapacitated by it.  Again, a firm footing in vocal technique is critical.  If you know that you have practiced your warm-ups regularly and are in “good voice”, and if you know that you have sung the song the way you want to many times at home, then with a little practice performing in front of others, you will be able to perform well and with ease. 

As your teacher, I am constantly improving my own vocal technique by studying with experts in the field and frequently performing in public.  I also regularly attend local, regional, and national conferences and institutes to learn the latest in science research.  Not only does this keep me up to date, but it keeps me honest as your teacher. . .I am doing the very things I ask you to do, and I can relate to your struggles and appreciate your accomplishments. 

Achieving Your Goals

The focus in lessons is on mastery of technique and performance skills.  Progress can be steady, but students should realize that performing at a high level usually takes years to attain.  Students may be assured that the teacher has their best interests at heart, will challenge them, but not expect immediate mastery, since it is an unfolding process.  Mindful repetition is key to breaking old habits and establishing new, healthier ones, both in lessons and in practice time outside of the studio.  Note that six months is the minimum length of time for any student who is beginning voice lessons, regardless of level.  This is what is needed to see improvement and begin to appreciate what is required for serious voice study whether you want to sing in talent shows, recitals, competitions, musical theater productions, karaoke or just for the joy of learning.  Please be patient with yourself and keep an open mind.  The teacher welcomes any questions or concerns you may have to help you achieve your goals. 

 

 

For more information please contact Sharon Buck at 425-483-7300 or at mezzosb@yahoo.com