Tips for Success in Voice Lessons
Warming up before your lesson time can allow us to get to the meat (exercises, theory, questions, and repertoire) of the lesson faster, giving you more out of every lesson.
Practicing is to your advantage. And I cannot do it for you. You will make the most progress if you sing everyday. If you are not in the habit of singing regularly, it is best to begin with multiple short sessions of practice rather than one long one. Make the most of your time, but do warm up, and never over-sing. Singing every day, even for a short period of time (5-15min), will yield better results than practicing for an extended period of time (1hr or more) once a week.
Practicing should be performed while standing up with good posture, and in a quiet room. If you can, practice with a mirror. When learning songs, the text should first be read aloud as a poem, with appropriate feeling and expression, then spoken to the rhythm of the music while maintaining expression and accentuation. Next, sing through the music on a comfortable vowel before putting the text and music together.
If you experience pain or discomfort, stop. Rest when your voice is tired. If your speaking voice is hoarse, you should rest. And ask if you have any concerns. You only get one voice, so taking care of it is important
Never be afraid to ask a question. There is no crime in not knowing something, and asking is the best way to find answers.
Please alert me as soon as possible if you have an audition or are planning on participating in a festival or camp. With early notice, I can help select music (as needed) and prepare you adequately to give a top performance.
I am here to help you with what you want to do with your singing. Please be honest so that I can help you to the best of my abilities. This means informing me of your goals, small and large.
More helpful hints
Reviewing what was done in the lesson and/or writing it down in a notebook the same day helps you hold on to new skills and ideas learned in the lesson.
Making legible notes in pencil on your music is a great help in remembering all the little interpretive details and any tricky spots while you are singing. Mark breaths, expression marks, tempo changes, pronunciation notes, and any other comments or doodles that help you remember what you do to sing your best.
Once you begin to get comfortable with a piece, listening to recordings is very helpful for giving you new ideas and perspectives. Try to find three different performances to listen to. Do not imitate the performer, but do listen and take notes on what they do differently from each other. Think about what each singer does and why, and decide what you want to do expressively when you sing the piece, even if it is completely different from any of the recordings.
Recording your lessons, and possibly even practice sessions, is a useful tool. Listening to these recordings can allow you to hear how your voice sounds to others, since bone- and tissue-conduction always affect our own perception. It can also show you a great deal that one simply does not notice at the moment, for instance whether you are truly singing a legato line or comprehensible words.
Attending live performances is one of the most important things you can do as a musician. We are lucky to have YouTube and easy access to recordings, but nothing replaces the concert experience. It forces you to focus entirely on the performance, not just using it as background music, and there is a different energy and excitement to actually being in the room. You are part of the action; your responses and energy directly affect the performance (ask any actor what it’s like to play to a “dead” audience). You can see all the performers, unlike videos where you can only see what the camera follows. In many cases, you can even talk to the performers after the performance, especially for local events. And hey, it’s live. Anything could happen…