Thursday, October 25, 2012

Continually Evolving – Your voice is continually evolving as an instrument.  You as a singer grow and grow older.  Your voice is a different instrument at 16 than at 25 and different at 32 than at 54.  It continues to evolve as you grow older and gain life experiences.  Our body cells, life situation, stressors in life are constantly changing.  It is so important that you keep on track with what your body and mind are saying about where you are with your singing.

The experiences that you have as a 16 year old high school student are completely different than those of a 25 year old newly on their own in the world.  A 32 year old who has had success as a singer but now is married with one or two children and a spouse to consider has different experiences than they did as a single 25 year old.  The list goes on.  When your body is your instrument, the stressors of life and decisions that you make really can change where your singing goes.

 A singer at all ages and experience levels must pay attention to body and mind signals- What works and what doesn’t work for you as a singer and as a person?  Can you go out with friends the night before a big performance or do you know that you will be much better off if you stay at home and go to bed early?  Do you sing best after doing a short cardiovascular workout and a few yoga poses?  Do you sing best after a small bland carbohydrate snack or on a relatively empty stomach? 

Life changes.  What works for you today may not work 10 years from now.  Sure some things will stay the same, but keep listening to your body and mind and take care of them both to make yourself be the best singer you can be!  What are the generalizations of how to take care of yourself as a singer?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maximize your Success – You practice, you take care of your body (eat well, exercise, get adequate sleep, you improve your instrument and make it the best it can be).  What next?  Do you see a difference in your singing? How about your overall mood?  Do you deal with barriers and hurdles in your singing better?  Undoubtedly the answers are yes. 

Most singers agree that when they take care of themselves, they not only feel better, but they have more successes.  Get that solo, land a role in the musical theater production, get into that college, feel comfortable singing in front of others when you were timid before.  The accomplishments of singing are so deeply rooted in the efforts put forth not only in your practice and dedication to your craft, but also how you take care of yourself. 

As a teacher, the best we can do is practice what we preach and take care of ourselves while encouraging our students to take care of their physical and mental well-being.  Just like in all aspects of our life, taking care of oneself leads to greater success.  Our needs and tolerances of what we can and cannot do and still produce quality singing are continually changing throughout our singing lives.  You are unique and it is worthy yout time to dicover your individual talents and what makes your instrument work at its' maximum potential.  Stay tuned for more in my next blog Continually Evolving Singing Voice. 

What experiences have you had with your evolving singing voice?  Has taking better care of yourself physically improved your singing and your self-esteem? Have you seen big changes in your voice and your success?  Have you as a teacher witnessed changes? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Voice Teachers View on Overall Health of a Singer. How do you foster the drive to take care of yourself?

Overall Health- It is not whether you are skinny or overweight, but that you are healthy all around that will impact not only your self-esteem, but your singing.  In order to feel good about what you do, you must feel good about you.  In Classical Singer, November 2011, voice teachers give their view on Does Size Matter.

Most teachers agree, if students are very fit, sometimes they have difficulty releasing the body for good breath work, and may be scared that they look fat on stage, whereas if you are heavier, they may be self-conscious about their size and see their smaller colleagues as being more attractive.   How do you foster the development of a voice in a student who does not have high self- esteem?  You encourage them to do the best for their body and mind and work on their self-image through the development of the person as a whole and the beauty of their individual voice.

How do teachers approach the subject? Approaches vary, but body image in terms of overall health and athleticism reinforces the idea that singers need to be vocal athletes.  Your body is your instrument, take care of it as such.  An athlete takes care of their body, is fit physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A singer should also strive to do so to be the best they can be.

The most important thing for a teacher is to encourage students to think about how they take care of their bodies.  A performer’s appearance has always been important and in many cases, determined the repertoire that they sang, William Neil, University of Oklahoma Vocal Chair.  Great voices are rare and should be nurtured and developed carefully at their own pace and own time in a friendly and supportive environment.  The discovery of what repertoire each voice is meant to sing is a quest for the teacher and singer alike.  Does physical appearance play a role sometimes?  Unfortunately, yes.  Does personality also factor in? Absolutely. 

Finding the drive to be fit- emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically to have a singing career can be guided and encouraged by the teacher but ultimately the decision of the singer.   How do you help your students approach their self-image?  What do you as a student find the most valuable from a teacher in regards to your self-esteem?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How do a positive self-image and being physically and mentally fit impact singing?

As part of any personal journey, you must be comfortable in your own skin and have a positive self-image and healthy outlook on life.  Singing as an avocation is fun.  It can be challenging, but ultimately the goal is to have fun and share your talent and communicate with others.  Singing as a vocation can add another element of dedication and commitment.  It is tough either way to compete with all of the other singers out there.  How do you make yourself the best you can be as a singer and have good self-esteem to carry you through?  Part 1 of 5.

“I must be emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically fit to have a singing career,” is the summary of Does Size Matter ?, Classical Singer Magazine, October 2011.  In this polling of a variety of singers, most feel that their perception of their body image influenced the way they sang and how they communicated on stage. How you feel about yourself and how your body reacts to that feeling is extremely valuable to the performing capabilities of a singer.

A singer must have a positive self-image in order to sing and perform at their best capabilities. You have to feel good about yourself no matter what you look like.   The competition is tough and you are sharing a part of you when you sing.  If you are well-balanced emotionally, physically, and mentally you have a higher chance of success.   If you are just learning how to sing, have patience with yourself and try to better yourself as a whole in any way you can.

People with a negative body image cannot get over how poorly they feel about themselves, and therefore cannot truly present themselves to an audience.  Isabella Ivy, soprano

If you make healthy lifestyle changes through being physically active and altering eating habits, you start on a path to being more physically AND emotionally well-balanced.  Feeling good about your outside and inside make you emotionally strong.

The more in tune I am with my body physically, the more connected I am to my instrument and singing comes from an inner strength and confidence.  Christina Foster, soprano.  No truer words could be spoken.  If you are in tune with your body physically, your mind is in a more positive place and confidence follows.  Yoga is a great way to get in tune with both body and mind quickly.

My body is my voice, and they are both unique, Michelle Brook Alexander, soprano.  Your voice is unique to you and you are unique.  Your voice and your body have a place.  Your voice may fit a role and the music, but this unfortunately can only be overlooked to a certain degree.  “Look the part” has been a part of performing forever (both acting and singing).  If you do not look the part, you may need to vary the style of your singing (oratorio versus opera versus musical theater) to maximize your success. 

Practice a “lifestyle diet” in which you are passionate about health, fitness, wellness, and singing.  The more time you spend on you as a whole, the greater a singer you can become.  What can you do in your everyday life to improve your physical, emotional, and mental state to maximize your performance potential? 

For more information on singer’s thoughts on the importance of appearance, body image, and singing visit and June and July 2011.