When should I start singing songs?

When should I start singing songs?

The first thing we do in at the start of a first voice lesson is have the student sing a series of five tone scales on the vowel “ah” throughout their range. We do this to learn a few things about the student, such as their vocal range, how they navigate their bridges, whether they are connected to their chest voice, if they tend to disconnect or “flip” at one or more of their bridges, if they tend to force the voice or “pull chest,” and so on. These are all technical issues. As soon as a technical issue has been discovered we are motivated to give them an exercise or series of exercises that will immediately address and eventually assist them to overcome the technical difficulty. In the process of discovery and correction we effectuate the actual building of the vocal instrument.

This building process can take a long time; in fact the voice continues to be built in one manner or another during the entire life of the singer. That said, the idea of vocal exercises being sung for many years at the exclusion of all else is one that is archaic at best, and counterproductive at worst. The moment a student can show at least some signs of being able to cross their bridges in a relaxed speech-level manner, it is imperative that songs (or at the very least some phrases from songs) be introduced.

If the singing of actual vocal music is delayed for too long a condition develops in the student that they are able to vocalize at an advanced level, but are singing songs at a beginning or intermediate level. Why? because they have not yet learned to apply this new-found technique to music. I have found that many students who seem to enjoy the building process of scale singing can be extremely hesitant to start singing actual music. There may be many reasons for this, but if left unchecked in can develop into a pattern in which they don’t ever feel ready to or comfortable in singing anything other than vocal exercises. This pattern is neither desirable nor easy to overcome; so it’s best if vocal teachers never let it happen in the first place. It’s important to start application of technique to songs as soon as the technique will allow it.

There are students however on the other end of the spectrum who don’t want to vocalize at all, they only want to sing and perform. To these students it must be made very clear that vocal technique and solid form is not built from the songs they are singing. They must commit to a minimum of solid, healthy vocalizing every day if they are to ever expect progress in their development of a professional caliber vocal sound.

Have a great week!

Voice Lessons

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