Tuesday, November 13, 2018

How Do I Know I Am Making the Most of My Practice Time for Singing?

How Do I Know I Am Making the Most of  My Practice Time?  

After you have blocked out the time in your schedule for practicing, what is the best way to make sure you are prepared for your lessons and progressing at a good pace?  Here are the top 6 things you can do to maximize your practice time.


1. Practice in a clearly defined practice space.

*   Set up a place to practice and do not leave it.  Once you have started practicing, do not answer your phone, text, talk to anyone.  It is your private singing and practice time; stay on task.

2. Practice what your teacher gives you.

* Voice teachers craft warm-ups (vocalise) for a reason. Start practice with the warm-ups from your previous lessons as well as a few favorites you know warm up your voice well.  THEN move on to your repertoire.


3. Practice songs focusing on what your teacher recommended in your lesson in addition to learning new pitches.

* In your lesson, pinpoint 2 or 3 things you should work on during the week in practice.  Put it into your own words.  i.e. Breath Control (use your laughing muscles) and Breathe only where you have breath marks!  You can do this with your teacher in every lesson.

4. Pay active attention to your voice in the moment. 


* Make a note of it in both your warm-ups and repertoire.  Write down questions for your teacher to take to your next lesson.

5. Ask yourself WHY if things are not going the way you want them to in practice. 

* Target the tough areas.  (See details for this process next week!)

6. Sing a "Cool Down" for your voice.


* Sing a song that is well set in your voice.  This way you 'warm-down' and know if your practice of the day follows good technique for your vocal development.  It is always fun to end your practice time by just singing something you love!

Remember:  The more active your brain is when practicing, the more you will get out of your practice time and the quicker you will obtain your singing goals!  


Tune in next week for how to have a more successful practice session and target trouble spots in practicing using the "Why" Technique.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fall is in Full Swing- How Do I Get in My Practice Time for Singing?

How do you find time to practice in the full swing of things? There are exams to study for, homework to do, other activities, sleep and work or school classes.  There are family commitments, you don't want to get sick so you need to sleep, you need time to unwind with friends. Scheduling practice time is essential to quality practice.

-MAKE the time!  Schedule it into your planner.  Put it in your mental and physical to do lists!

-WRITE IT DOWN EVERYDAY. Make it a priority that you will enjoy.

- Make PRACTICE a BREAK from other things.

        ** If you know you want to study for your math test for 2 hours, schedule a 1 hour study session. PRACTICE as a BREAK and then go back to your homework.

        ** Do your English homework and then PRACTICE before going to soccer.

        ** PRACTICE while you are waiting for mom to take you to an activity

        ** Mentally PRACTICE on the long bus ride or before you go to sleep
        (this helps with MEMORIZING music)

Figure out how it works best into your schedule and your lifestyle.  Does it relax you and serve as a wind down to the day? Does it get your brain working better and spawn good studying?  This will tell you when it will be the most productive for you.  Once you figure that out, schedule it at the SAME TIME and SAME LOCATION.  Using practice sessions in this way help you to manage your time.

Scheduling practice time gives you the MOTIVATION to do it.  Set GOALS and a plan of action for each practice session to maximize your practice time.  Now that you have time blocked out to practice, find out how to make the MOST of that PRACTICE time in my next blog and  in "Practice Makes Perfect" by Michelle Latour in Classical Singer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Singing Lessons Teach the Value of Dedication, Receiving Constructive Criticism and Perseverance

Singing Lessons Teach the Value of Dedication, Receiving Constructive Criticism and Making Something the Best It Can Be

When learning to create music (both playing an instrument and singing), we learn the art of critiquing something, breaking it down to isolate what needs to be perfected and building it back up to make the 'perfect' phrase or performance of a piece.  This attention to detail is a very valuable trait not only in music but in our everyday life.  Attention to detail makes us good editors, scientists, engineers, doctors, in the workforce.  Being dedicated to the end product and perfectionism makes good lawyers, doctors, teachers, in the workplace.  These characteristics that can be taught through music as a youth carry through to create who we become as adults.

The ability to focus to perfect something is very valuable to create quality music.  It is also essential to create a quality product in the workforce as adults- a perfect presentation, website design, product design makes us a reliable and essential employee to a business or company.

In our youth and as adults we are subjected to the desire to have everything be perfect as well as to listen to others tell us HOW something would be better or 'perfect'.  Think about it, mom always wants the toys put away in the right bin to keep things orderly, the math teacher wants the math equation used to be just so, your boss believes 'X' should be added to the presentation to really sell the idea to a client.  What do all of these things have in common?  LISTENING to the advice or demands of another person is another lesson in life that we need to learn.  Whether as a child or adult, we listen to the constructive criticism of others.

In music, we learn how to listen to the constructive criticism and use it to create a better performance of the music. Learning to do this in music carries over to the business world and workforce.  We already know how to receive the criticism and apply it to what we are doing to make the product better.  By interpreting the information we are given, we show that we value to input of others and can use to improve the end result.  We already learn to work as a team through making music as a soloist or member of a musical group.

This too carries over to being a 'team player' who takes in the advice of fellow employees - more important qualities in a mature, working adult.  What a wonderful way to get your child (or you) started on some of the most important qualities in an adult- take music lessons to facilitate learning those lessons!

By receiving constructive criticism and learning the value of perfectionism, we follow through and persevere.  This is imperative to a beautiful final performance of a musical piece.  It is also true in everyday life.  Perseverance and follow through to the end of a project in the work world is essential.  We learn not to give up but to problem solve to achieve a goal.  What another wonderful benefit to musical study!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Singing Lessons are an EMOTIONAL Outlet

Find an Emotional Outlet- Taking Music Lessons (especially singing) helps you to find an emotional outlet. Another extra benefit to music! 

Understanding and appreciating art is so helpful when it comes to processing the hard stuff in the world.  Music is a safe place to let out emotions.  An outlet for times you feel powerless and it can be invaluable in your emotional survival.  Art can be such a powerful tool for children to express themselves.    Jennifer Nettles,Sugarland

Music is such a wonderful outlet for our emotions and plays a role in how we deal with the ebbs and flow of life.  We all have tough times and need a way to help us get through it.  We may have a favorite angry song we listen to and it helps us through it.  Or we are so excited about something that we listen to our favorite 'up' song or have to sing it to the world.   

Music is a comfortable way to express our emotions whether it is a song we listen to, play or sing, or write ourselves.  What better way is there to express yourself than through music and singing?  It is an emotional outlet which can replace spoken words that may be so hard to express. 

When a teenager is having a rough time in school and with friends, there is no better place to turn to than music.  It is a safe place to turn and sing tor play through the pain, indecision, frustration, or love of something.   Sometimes we are overwhelmed with emotions and music can help us to figure it all out.

Studies show that being involved in music reduces risky behavior and increase the involvement in volunteer activities. http://teenink.com/opinion/all/article/18053/The-Music-in-Children/. Knowing how to help yourself can help you to assist others.  Having the outlet to express yourself helps you to process the emotions that you are going through.  This is a true for everyone of all ages.  

Singing can also be a release of tension which often builds with the academic stresses in school.  It releases endorphins to make us feel better and then we can focus on all the things we need to get done with a much clearer head. 

I sing or listen to music based on my mood.  When I am happy, I sing a happy song, when I am angry, I have my favorite angry song, when I am sad, I sing or listen to a sad song.  When my son is angry, he plays his drum set or turns on his favorite CD and sings along.  It is human nature to find a way to connect to our emotions.  We need to soothe ourselves in times of trouble and celebrate when we are happy.  Music is a part of all of our celebrations (weddings, graduations, parties) and all of our times of troubles (funerals, ceremonies for tragedies). 

Music holds a special place in our hearts that can mend you and raise you up. Isn't it even more rewarding to make the music yourself by singing or playing an instrument?  The ability to create that music yourself is an irreplaceable and wonderful thing.  You can express yourself with your own song!  Embrace it and encourage it by improving your singing or learning to play an instrument.  Or sign your child up for music lessons now!

Listen to the words of
"Sing Your Own Song", sung by Rebecca Stern.  This is a true testament of how music is an emotional outlet.  How do you use music to explore your feelings?


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Singing Lessons Help Increase Communication Skills

Increase Communication Skills through Singing Lessons.

Singing lessons can help improve communication skills.  In today's world, so many of us rely on the computer to communicate all of our needs.  Why not just send an email or text a message?  These are wonderful advancements that allow us to communicate at a time that is convenient for us and the person you are interacting with can get back to you right away or at a time that works for them.  BUT, what does that do for real face to face interaction and communication?  If we always have our noses in our technology, we start to lose the ability to communicate by simply TALKING to someone.  Take a minute and look at the flip side.  How comfortable is the younger generation LOOKING at an adult when talking to them?  Do they speak to them with confidence?  Singing lessons can help facilitate this and many other aspects of communicating by bolstering confidence and giving them to tools to express themselves face to face.

Look them in the eye and tell them is something I frequently say in voice lessons with my students.  When you are expressing the emotions of a character sometimes it is easier to express yourself than when you are trying to communicate your own emotions.  Study of the lyrics enables the singer to see a new and different way to say something and how to show it in song.

Not only do you learn to communicate with more confidence in singing lessons, you also spend time exploring the vocabulary of the English language (among other languages).  What does the poetry really mean?  What are the lyrics really saying?  Is it symbolism? Or it may be a different way of saying the same thing.  Exploration of the written word helps to expand someone's vocabulary.  Knowing how to analyze lyrics helps you to also express yourself better.  How can YOU say something differently to express yourself?

When looking at lyrics to a song, we often see repetition of words.  How do we express those words differently when we sing them to give them extra meaning or truly express what the character is trying to say?

There are so many elements of singing that impact our overall ability to communicate-  not only can you learn how to express songs with agility and ease, but can improve your ability to really connect with others and share your thoughts at a new and profound level.

What do you think about how singing lessons facilitates communication in other aspects of life?  Stay tuned for the extra benefit of singing lessons- An Emotional Outlet!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Build Confidence in Yourself and Your Abilities Through Singing Lessons

Build Confidence (In Yourself and Your Abilities)

Do you love to sing, but are you afraid to sing in front of others?  Scared to share your voice?  Do you have a shy child who likes to sing and can carry a tune, but afraid to sing out in chorus or audition for that solo?  Yes, you want to make your singing (or a child's) better by taking singing lessons, but how will that help you to be more comfortable in front of others or more confident in yourself?

By taking singing lessons, you are spending time with yourself and working on a part of you.  It's similar to when you spend that time at the gym.  You are working on the overall person that you are and fine tuning a part of YOU!  The endorphins created when you workout make you feel better about yourself, control stress, and affect how you interact with others.

When you take singing lessons, you are also focusing on your body and what it can do for you as a musician.  You not only improve your singing voice, but your confidence level in singing and yourself.   The concentrated time spent with yourself and improving your instrument creates those same endorphins.  This makes you feel good about you and enhances the music that you make.

Singing lessons involve time spent on posture and poise.  This increases your confidence level.  Read more about it: http://www.healthyandconfidentsingingvoice.blogspot.com/2013/05/posture-and-poise.html

When you have more confidence in your skills, you perform a song differently.  Look them in the eye and communicate what you (or your character) have to say! Being someone else for a little while in a play or opera often makes it easier.  Being comfortable enough with yourself to let the inhibitions go and try to sing the song and be the character from Guys and Dolls or convey the meaning of Danny Boy in a performance can unleash a different part of a person.  Once you can do that, it affects YOU in everyday life.

(Remember that quiet girl who had a hard time talking at the party because she was too shy?  Once a student has sung a song in a performance, the quiet, reserved person may start to come out of her shell, be confident enough to look a person in the eye in a conversation, or speak up in class!).

Have you ever had this experience or know of someone who has? I would love to hear about it!

Does a more confident singer and person communicate more effectively? Let me know your thoughts and tune in next week for how singing can help communication skills.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Increase Concentration and Focus through Singing Lessons

Increase Concentration and Focus (Quality and Length of Time) Through Taking Singing Lessons

Musical study requires the ability to focus on details for periods of time.  How do you sing that phrase with a long, smooth line?  What is that rhythm?  From reading music on the page to creating the music with our bodies,  music making involves concentration and focus.  Do you or your child have difficulty focusing on academic tasks?  Singing lessons may help.

Your body is your whole instrument so it requires a lot of focus and concentration to sing.  You work on getting your body physically in sync with your brain thus really concentrate.  It is not easy to make beautiful music, phrasing, and sing the right words at the same time, so your concentration skills are challenged! 

When singing, another form of focus comes in to play- what is my body really doing?  Not only does your brain need to interpret the notes and words it sees, but it needs to multi-task and tell your body what to do.  It sends a message to your vocal cords to vibrate at a certain speed to create that specific note.  It also sends a note to inhale, fill our lungs with air, and control the exhale.  We are not consciously aware of all of the messages, but learn to help our body control the messages more clearly.  We can think, 'breathe slowly and deeply on the inhale and control the exhale so I can sing the whole phrase' or 'I want to sing this phrase in one breath, let me see how I can stretch my breath to accomplish that.'

These are complex thoughts when put together in a long strand in a sequence.  This helps us increase our focus, concentration, and multi-functioning brain capacity! 

Those notes are small on the page.  To interpret and read them, a student must be able to block out other influences and concentrate on the task at hand.  No one else can do it for them as they cannot hide in a big class.  The singing teacher helps each student to process the information on the page.  Then their brains must interpret the notes and tell their bodies what to do.  Repetition of the process to play or sing the phrase as it is written is necessary.  Repeat, repeat, and the body and brain remember it.  Repeat and add another command such as 'make these 4 measures one phrase and sing it in one breath' and one must really focus.  Concentration to do these things carries over to other parts of your life!

Just like when reading aloud as a young child, someone learning to read notes must learn to interpret what they are singing as they go.  Remember the days that we spent following the words on the page with our fingers to help us to keep our place when we read?  Were you ever asked if you understood what you just read?   Learning to read can be a challenging task. Learning to read music facilitates reading words as it uses symbols that need to be interpreted just like words do.  Eventually reading and reading music gets easier and you DO understand it the first time.  The process of the eyes following notes (words) left to right gets easier with repetition and processing.

What great qualities to learn to help us to create beautiful music and accomplish so many other things in our lives!!  Get involved in singing lessons at the beginning of the school year and watch how concentration skills in music and your other studies grows!

What are your thoughts about how musical study increases concentration and focus?