Very often, singers wonder why they aren’t progressing at the pace that they’re expecting or hoping to. They find themselves treading water, so to speak, stuck with the same technical limitations and problems that they’ve been stuck with for months or maybe even years. It’s frustrating and discouraging, to say the least.
There are numerous reasons why aspiring singers might be progressing slowly, or not at all. But what I’ve found in the vast majority of cases of singers whose skills aren’t steadily improving is that there is a lack of mindfulness in how they’re approaching their voice training. When singers are not being intentional about their voice use and their practice habits, they tend to meander and are apt to apply technical concepts inconsistently and/or incorrectly, which leads to slowed, stalled, or even regressed progress.
“If we hope to see changes in our singing for the better, we need to actively change what we’re currently doing. Change is a prerequisite for improvement.”
Although sometimes casual singing is exactly what we feel inspired to do and what feeds our souls in the moment, simply ‘singing’ (using our voices for mindless music making) while crossing our fingers that our unfocused vocalizing is going to lead to improvement is not going to help us achieve the desired results. Instead, if we hope to see changes in our singing for the better, we need to actively change what we’re currently doing. Change is a prerequisite for improvement. We need to practice with the intention of making deliberate adjustments to our existing technical approach to singing. If we’re not being intentional, we will find ourselves doing the same things in the same ways that we’ve always done them… and achieving the same undesirable results. We will intuitively default to the coordination that we’ve habituated. The primary focus of voice training should be the undoing of former, unproductive, inefficient ways of using our voices and the adoption of new, more productive and effective habits.
Although thinking about and paying attention to every little detail while we’re studying voice might initially seem as though it would take the enjoyment out of singing, in actuality, mindfulness encourages faster results and greater success, which in turn frees us up to be the vocal technicians and artists that we’ve always wanted to be. And since careless application of technique can lead to tension, pain, strain, or voice injuries, it’s in our best interest to be intentional about our voice use at every step of the way. In time we’ll find that, much like riding a bike was difficult and precarious until our bodies figured out and memorized how to consistently and readily balance atop two wheels, most aspects of vocal technique that initially require intense focus and analysis will become second nature. We’ll be able to transition from thinking and analysis to emoting and spontaneous expression. But early on in our training, if we wish to see results, we will need to devote some mental energy to our physical endeavours. We will need to assess, plan, practice, track progress, and study until we reach our goals and become the singers that we aspire to be.