“I sang it so well in my bedroom”
I’ve been thinking about practising and flexibility.
The excellent Voice Monday newsletter arrived yesterday from Rayvox (if you don’t get it, sign up here now, it’s packed with great articles).
In it is an article from Noa Kageyama on how performers prepare, with a link to a Q&A with international performer Joyce diDonato.
diDonato talks about practising flexibility when she is working on cadenzas and runs or riffs. But that doesn’t mean “I need to move my voice faster”. In her case it means practising the same run or cadenza with different nuances, different dynamics, different subtext, different notes or corners to emphasise or pause on, and sometimes even singing different notes in the run.
Your practising time is exactly the time to do this type of experimental flexibility. You don’t want to “fix” your performance each time you practise it, and there’s a great reason why. You’d be fixing your brain to respond in the “correct” way only when you are in the exact environment that you are practising in. Check out my dissection of skill acquisition for singers here for more voice science details
Do you know why “I sang it so well in my bedroom” doesn’t work? That’s because you’ve only practised it in your bedroom.
And because when you perform or audition you aren’t in the same environment (acoustics, furniture, visual cues), the practice that you’ve done in your bedroom or in the shower doesn’t work as well, and you mess up.
What can you do about it? Practise flexibility. Here’s how.
1. While you’re practising your song, walk around the house. Listen to the different acoustics and how they affect your vocal feedback. Repeat until you can sing the same in any room in the house.
2. If you’re worried about disturbing your roommates, stay in your practice space, stand against a wall and sing into the room. Then WHILE YOU’RE SINGING turn and face the wall. You’ll be surprised what you discover.
3. Practise your song while doing something physically different. If you always stand, practise sitting and standing every 10 seconds. If you’re always pacing up and down, stand with your feet apart and don’t move them. If you’re a “static” singer, pace quickly around your space, work out, do star jumps. Repeat until you feel successful in each situation.
Building flexibility into your practising can be fun, weird and a real eye opener. And it prepares you for all the things that go wrong when you’re performing.
Ask me how I know.
Want more tips? We’ve got some help for you. We’ve built into our new Voice Journal different exercises and practice sequences that give you flexibility wherever you are.
My favourite? Jar of Hearts. Check out the journal here.
Jeremy (and Dr Gillyanne)
PS If you want more ideas for flexible singing, check out the onsets and offsets section in Best Practice Update, or watch us working with singers in the masterclasses in Mastering Musical Theatre, both on the Learning Lounge https://bit.ly/VocalProcessLearningLounge
PPS Or you can listen to this week’s podcast episode – Change Your Pitch, Change Your Meaning – for examples of flexibility in your speaking voice
Get the This Is A Voice book here https://amzn.to/3A9steN
Get the One Minute Voice Warmup app here, it’s got a 4.9star rating
Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.speechtools.warmup&hl=en_GB&pli=1
Sam and Garry at Speechtools are here https://speechtools.co/
We’ve also got this! ↓
The 5 Days to Better Singing Teaching course online, with voice coaching techniques, vocal articulation exercises and a LOT more for the up-to-date singing teacher is here
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