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Training to Sing Habitually

Old Wisdom

The teachers of the Old Italian School had a tradition that a little practice every day always provides superior results to a lot of practice sporadically.  While this rule applies to all musicians, it is especially true for singers.

Singing uses the entire autonomic neuro-musculor system. There are no keys to press. There are no valves or strings to press. Singing is completely a part of a person’s body and mind, and nothing else. This is why singing can seem to be such a difficult art  to excel in.

In order for a singer to be any good, they need to get to the point where the bulk of their technique happens subconsciously , or automatically. Another way of saying this is that a singer must train to sing habitually.

Establishing habits

The only real way to create any habit, good or bad, is through repetition. The singing masters of old knew this. It was for this reason that a singing pupil was expected to attend DAILY lessons with a singing master, and the student was not to sing unsupervised until such a day that the master was satisfied that the student knew for certain what they were doing and why they were doing it. They were instilling superior singing habits bit by bit that would serve the singer for their entire career.

Good singing teachers still understand that it is much easier to instill good singing habits than it is to retrain bad ones. This is why it is recommended that any would-be singer who is serious about their art have as much time singing in the presence of their teacher as possible until superior vocal habits are properly formed.

It is recommended that the teacher or student record each lesson, and that the student go through their most recent lesson at home daily until their next session, trying to recreate the experience they had at the studio to the best of their ability. This is a wise way of building the voice. Even 15 minutes per day of this type of practice, over time, will produce superior results (provided that the technique being taught is superior, but we shall leave that topic to a future post).

Two common ways that beginning singers run into trouble on their own are:

1. Singing along to a favorite singer on an MP3. This can be great fun, but in so doing, beginners run the obvious risk of actually training themselves to sing poorly; and those habits can take a great deal of time and energy to un-train.

2. A singer with a naturally nice sound can commonly get the erroneous idea that they need only seek a teacher when they are getting ready for an audition or gig (if at all). These singers don’t understand that they have natural talent and youth on their side and can be building up pernicious habits that can cause a great amount of trouble in the not-so-distant future.

Get coaching

My recommendation is that if you are serious about a singing carer that you find a teacher who has an intimate knowledge and understanding of proper singing technique, and start some serious training. This is especially true if you haven’t yet gotten to the level of vocal technique where you are able to sing a balanced scale from the bottom to the top of your range.

You may actually need to “audition” several voice teachers until you find one with whom you feel comfortable and whom you feel certain is able to train you legitimately. Once you find someone who “clicks,” get in to as many lessons each week as you have the time and money to afford

Don’t decide it’s “too expensive.” Many good teachers offer significant discounts for people who come more than once per week, so ASK), and practice daily on the days you don’t have lessons. Once you have built your voice, you have habits that can last you the rest of your life and career. Then there will be no stopping you!

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