How to achieve artistry in your singing

How to achieve artistry in your singing


This is the fourth and final part of my miniseries about the four stages of learning. In Part 1 we talked about getting competent; Part 2 was all about getting confident. Part 3 was about how you go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ as a singer. 

What lies beyond greatness and mastery?

Think of Dali, the painter. By the time he was able to put two or three brushstrokes on a canvas and sell it for millions, and was hailed as a great avant garde painter, he was able to paint everything already. He was a master at his craft before he was an artist.

Stage four is called Artistry.

But what is artistry? And what is the difference?

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How to achieve artistry in your singing

Artistry is when you can now take your mastery of your craft and reinvent it. You can break the mould and innovate, breaking boundaries and barriers. You can take what you do and really pour your own true self and your personal expression into it.

You might be thinking, people are able to express themselves before they get to vocal mastery level. You don’t have to be able to do every sort of vocal trick known to man to become an artist. And I would say, absolutely. But while mastery is being able to master the level you’re at and what you need it for, artistry is a pinnacle.

Artistry is where you can create anything, because you can put your voice to anything.


Jon Bon Jovi was once asked in an interview what the highlight of his career was? When did he know that he’d made it? He looked at the interviewer and he said (and I paraphrase), Well, the thing is, I have had incredible highlights to my career. There has been this gig and there has been that concert, and there was that album, and there was that number one single. But if I felt that that was the top of me, the top of all I am, if that was all I was ever aiming for, then what’s the point of continuing? But there’s still more in me left to give. There is still more in me left to explore.

You see, creativity is the impossible made possible. It is the uniformness energy that flows through life, coming through you in your ability to actually create at a level further than you have before. So often with think that mastery is about making it, and that once we created a career, or an album we will have got there.

Is artistry about fame?

Not at all – artistry is about going for your full expression, whether that is seen by millions of people, or by a few minutia of people. Whether you never do anything with it, or whether you express it to the world, at some point when you’re singing, you’re going to want to feel as if you’ve given your all because you can. That’s the place of artistry.

It’s the place where you’re finding your unique expression in the world.

 

Is artistry about age and experience?

Not necessarily! I’ve known violinists that are artists at 25. They’re so fine at their expression. Then with other people, such as Strauss, they write their last and greatest works at the age of 80. It’s not necessarily an age thing, but it’s always, always a decision. It’s a decision that you will go forward, and you will just not stop. If you’re an artist in your blood, and you decide to take another step and another, you will, at some point, find your own artistic expression and reach the pinnacle of artistry.

What stage at you at in your singing?

Competency.

Confidence.

Mastery

Artistry.

Where do you see yourself, right now? And where do you aspire to go?

Do you know where do you aspire to go, but you’re too afraid to admit it?

Are you happy to stay at your current level, and take the pressure off – because actually it’s more about a different level of enjoyment for you right now?

There is no right and wrong. There is no reason to go to any other level – other than that little nudge inside you that pushes you forward; that little voice of wisdom that’s saying, Come on, take the next step. Come on, it’s time to step into stage one, two, three or four.

If you’re ready to listen to that voice, it’s a foregone conclusion that you’re not going to stop until you have found your full, true expression.

All you need to do is take the next step… and the next.

What’s the next step for you?

It could be to simply just watching more of these videos, allow it to just seep into your mindset, and being prepared to take the next opportunity that could be waiting for you.

It could be to join a choir.

It could be to download some new vocal exercises.

It could be to come in and join the Academy and start the process of moving towards confidence, competence and beyond, learning how to find your own goals and vision, and the challenges and stretches that will push you forward.

Are you already confident that you really need to make a decision that’s going to shape your destiny? You see, there is only today. The saddest thing for me is to listen to people that come to me when they feel it might be too late, who say, I gave up because life got in the way. I didn’t take the opportunity. I thought it was too late for me. I thought because I failed once, that I had just failed. Or, because I’m not with the right teacher. Or, I didn’t take the right route.

None of that needs to stop you. All you need is to understand what your process is, what your plan is, what your next step is, and I can help you walk through to get you to the next level.

So, follow that inner nudge.

Your whole voice, your whole dream, your whole passion is truly at stake. You can have what you want, if you know what you want. It can be the most enjoyable adventure to find your voice, create your creative expression world, enjoy every portion of your singing, and even leave a legacy for others to be able to step onto the ladder after you.

Where might you go if you really step in?

It’s time.

Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.


How to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ as a singer

How to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ as a singer


This is the third part of my miniseries about the four stages of learning. In Part 1 we talked about getting competent; Part 2 was all about getting confident. Part three is about how you go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ as a singer.

Stage three is called Mastery.

Mastery is where the prodigies live. The people who seem to have what we call ‘natural talent’. They might develop that talent very quickly as a child; sometimes they come to that talent later as an adult, but they deliver it quickly. But it can take twenty or thirty years to become a master.

You see, mastery is going from good to great, becoming a virtuoso in what you do. At this level you’ll be performing at an incredibly high standard. You may well be a soloist, or the leader of a band, starting to get more well known for your expertise in your area.

When you are at the Mastery stage, you are using your instrument (be in a musical instrument or your own voice) with great skill. Sometimes mastery shines through in song writing skills.

So, is it something you should aspire to?

Well, often it is, but it might not come for a while. And having potential isn’t a guaranteed route to mastery. It is not a given! But it is a journey of discovery – a kind of hero’s journey – where you move forward in order to really find out where your potential might take you.

Watch the video >>>>

Or here’s the scannable version >>>>

So, how do you go from good to great in your singing – from competence to mastery?

 

Mastery is about the detail.
It’s about looking deeper.
It’s about listening more deeply and with more clarity.

You’re looking for the difference that makes the difference.

You need to take yourself back almost to a beginner’s mentality, re-hone your skills and reshape them as if you’ve never learned them before. You need to make a commitment to learn at a deeper level.

 

What should you do if you feel you want to push for Mastery?

 

Don’t kid yourself; be aware of what level you’re really at. If you feel that you should be achieving mastery by now, but have been let down by a teacher or method, remember it might be that you haven’t recognised your true level. If you suspect that you’re being impatient, and trying to move forward before you’re ready, then hold back and put all the proper steps in place first.

You see, it is possible to fast track this, but you can’t miss out any of the steps. You must go through them all. You must earn your stripes and get those things your muscle memory before you can truly take your vocal training to a deeper level.

In Stage 2 I said it was okay to camp out in Confidence for a long time – even forever. A lot of singers do, and enjoy good careers. It’s not always possible for a singer to progress to Mastery, as not everyone has the right skills to reach that level. And that’s okay!

Acknowledge that you might be holding yourself back. You might be stuck due to your beliefs about yourself, your background, your opportunities (or lack of them), your environment, or your own habits. Sometimes unconscious self sabotage keeps us stuck in the same place.

If you are holding yourself back, it’s time to face the challenge. At this point, you need to work one on one with a mentor, at a much higher level. You need to push the barriers, and push yourself further.

 

What challenges will you face at Mastery level?

 

Years ago, when I was kind of hiding out in Confident level, one of my vocal mentors challenged me to take my voice to the level of mastery.

I admit I was scared to take those extra leaps. When you’re already good at something, the prospect of actually choosing to go back almost to a beginner’s mindset, to let go of what works in favour of learning something new, creates resistance.

So prepare not just for physical and creative challenges, but for the mental challenge of showing up and breaking yourself down to build yourself up again. You’re going to need bucketfuls of  perseverance, determination and egoless commitment to the learning process.

 

How will you know when you’ve reached mastery?

 

From an internal perspective, you may not know. But you may see some external signs of your developing mastery:

  • You’ll be receiving accolades
  • You might be winning competitions
  • You’ll find yourself being picked for things

And you’ll find that you start to develop a love for detail and for going deeper into your own subject matter than you ever have before.

When you find yourself approaching mastery, you geek out on it a little bit. You’re passionate about it. In fact, it oozes out of every pore of you. It’s that at this point you are sold completely on what you’re doing. You live and you breathe it. You can’t stop yourself. It’s no longer good enough to be enough, or to do it better than you did it before, or even better than those around you.

 

If you’re ready to move on to Mastery I wish you every success.

And wow! There’s going to be something amazing that comes out in the world when you hit mastery level.

Read the next part of this 4 part series – How to achieve artistry in your singing – HERE

Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.


How to find your confidence as a singer

How to find your confidence as a singer


This is the second part of my miniseries about the four stages of learning.

In Part 1 we discussed becoming competent in your singing: not being perfect, just getting up and being competent enough to do your thing, regardless of your feelings around it. And once you’ve achieved Stage One, you’re already on the fringe of Stage Two.

Stage Two is the ‘Confident’ stage.

In the Confident stage, you’re not just getting by,  you’re starting to achieve a higher standard and find some consistency. It’s time to move the dial a little further. You’ve now passed the stage at the beginning where your resistance was so huge. You already have skills that you just developed in the competent stage, but you now need to make those skills stick. Stage Two is a good stage: it’s where you start to get good at what you do.  And confident is a very interesting place to be.

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How you know when you’ve reached the Confident stage in your singing

When you start to hear people saying, “Ooh, you’re a good singer. Ooh, you know that was a really good rendition of that song. That was a good song that you’ve written. Oh, that was a good performance,” you know that you’re in that Stage Two arena.

Getting good at what you do is a fantastic place to be. It can take you a long way: it can get you solos; it can get you into choirs; it can even get you paid work. It can get you into writing songs, or going into a recording studio, or getting good enough to go at auditions and succeed.

What it is NOT is a miraculous leap forward, where everything work out and nothing ever goes wrong!

How long should you stay at the Confident stage?

You can stay in Stage Two quite a long time – and many people stay in this stage forever. It’s a place where you can perform or write or create at a consistently good and fairly high standard.

There’s an interesting book written for the business world called ‘From good to great’. The premise of it is that actually at some stage ‘good’ becomes your enemy – it gets in the way of you becoming great. But many professional musicians are at this stage. Teachers can be at this stage, be good teachers and create healthy careers for themselves – and help a lot of other singers also at Stage Two.

So being (or sticking) at Stage Two doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in any way. It’s a great place to be.

And once you’ve mastered Stage One (Competent) I want you to swim around in the Confident Stage Two pool as long as you need to! It’s quite a big pool and actually there’s not always that many swimmers in there. So you’ll have plenty of space to master your strokes, build your stamina – and make a splash!

What reaching the Confident stage will mean for your singing

You can say yes to opportunities that before you may have said no to simply because you were unsure of yourself.

Your voice is consistently working at a good standard – no matter how you feel on a daily basis, you can do your vocal exercises and create an environment where you will perform consistently well.

You can take advantage of last minute opportunities. If somebody asks you to sing pretty last minute, you have the confidence in your ability to be able to take up that opportunity.

Read the next part of this 4 part series – How to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ as a singer – HERE

Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.


The secret to achieving Competence in your singing

The secret to achieving competence in your singing


This is the first of series of four posts on the four areas of learning: Competence, Confidence, Mastery and Artistry. I’ll be sharing how to know where to focus your energy and effort so that you can make the right choices going forward, and avoid holding yourself back from the next level.

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Or here’s the scannable version >>>>

How to achieve competence in your singing

Competence is having just enough skill to do the job in hand.

Many people are hobby singers, or they’re just stepping onto the platform for the first time. Their first goal is not to wow the crowd and find an agent. Their first step is to get competent: to show up week after week, do the exercises, lose the nerves, move forward, get things done, write the songs, put them out there. And by doing all this, begin to see transformation work in the voice.

This first area of competence is really important. Because although it’s your first stage, and maybe your first tiny step onto doing what you can do with your voice, it can actually be a really dangerous area.

Because your resistance to your ability, to unlocking your greatest potential, is going to be the biggest at the beginning, and right before a breakthrough.

At the beginning, you might find you’ve got more self-talk, you’ve got more reasons to walk away and not to move forward. This is when we start something, dip a toe in the water, then realise there’s a commitment involved. We know that something needs to change. Our habits need to be reset.

The first stage of getting competent is about consistency.

Consistency in showing up, time and time again.
Overcoming inertia.
Overcoming resistance.

At this stage, you’re probably going to only shift the dial a little bit, and see a few results. There probably won’t be enough of a result to make you feel as if you’ve suddenly broken through every barrier in your singing!

And that is the point.

It’s about not saying, “I just couldn’t! Because life got in the way this week!” Well, hello, you’re human. Life is happening every single day. There are distractions, bright shiny objects, social media. There is work, children, traffic on a daily basis. That is going to happen. You have to get yourself in the game, and find a little bit of momentum.

Sure, you’re going to find loads of objections. Sure, you’re going to find loads of little resistances. But if your dreams are going to happen you need to find that consistency. It’s the only way that you are ever going to find your true voice and be able to do something with it.

 

Make a choice

So here’s the choice you need to make: if you want to achieve competence, you need to choose to build better habits.

Let’s face it, we’re all human. If it was easy to break your habits, and to move into your desired result, more people would do it. So what’s the difference for those who actually do manage it? The ones who actually have that breakthrough, get competent, and move forward to the next stage of learning?

They understand that time is finite, they understand that there is no such thing as tomorrow.

They understand that the first stage will just be the smallest shift forward – but that getting there will show them what to do next. And that once they’re competent at this thing, they can move on to the next stage.

 

Questions to ask yourself now

Do you feel that you are competent in your singing?

If so, are you so comfortable that you actually are holding yourself back? (Because that’s an important point to consider as well! It may be that you need to push yourself beyond competency into the next stage.)

If not, it’s time. You can get competent. You can. You don’t have to have variable results. You can be consistent and competent at that first rung of the ladder.

So turn the dial. Move it that one degree, and watch what happens when you do.

Read the second part of this 4 part series – How to find your confidence as a singer – HERE

Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.


When your singing practise feels like an uphill stuggle

When your singing practise feels like an uphill struggle


I want to talk to you about a brilliant (and funny) post that was put in our Online Singing Academy Facebook group.

Watch the video >>>>>

 

Or here’s the scannable version:

I started the Online Singing Academy in February last year, and this week I’ve given myself time to sit back and reflect on how it’s going. Who are the people I’m working with? How have they been helped? What are some of the journeys that they’ve gone on? And where are they right now?

And this week one of our academy members shared a very funny post in our private Facebook group. I laughed my socks off when I first read it – and so did everybody else, because not only was it true for this person, but when I shared it with my private one-to-one clients they all smiled a wry smile, and admitted that they often experienced similar.

I’m sharing the post with you here with the author’s permission. I think it will probably speak for itself, in terms of:

  • The mind games that we play with ourselves
  • The incredible power thought has in shaping our reality.

This is what the Academy member posted:

What to do when your singing practise feels like an uphill struggle

I’m so grateful that this person posted this. Because isn’t that the mental journey that all singers are on, whether they are being coached one-to-one, or learning online?

Now what caused that song to actually work well in the end? Was it just the exercise?

Not necessarily. What exercises do when you’re practising (a bit like when you are exercising your body) is that you are able to become more aware of when things are tense. When things are free. The tone changing, clearing up, improving, becoming more precise. The top notes changing. You become able to actually control some of the functions and mechanics of your singing voice. How you listen. How you feel. How you hear.

But exercises are not the magic wand.

The secret is in the the power of thought.

This person was able to just allow their thoughts to be present. They didn’t try and get rid of the bad feelings. They didn’t try and only have good feelings when they were practising. They didn’t hate the exercises, or love the exercises. It was neutral.

Even though they felt like it was the exercises that did it, it was only because they brought themselves to the exercises. They brought their presence. They brought the commitment and the consistency and the just the getting in there and doing it. They didn’t have to bring good feelings.

If what you need right now is permission to rediscover your voice, or to allow your thinking to settle down and to get back in the game, then take this as your permission slip today to do just that!

Until next time, keep getting out there. Keep singing. Keep sharing. Keep showing up.

One of the things that I’ve found with the Academy is that it’s very much about discovering – or rediscovering – your voice, and finding the right way to bring it out into the world.

The magic is not in a guru. The magic is not in a set of exercises. The magic is in supporting each other on the journey that we choose to take when we begin to work on our voices.

We are creating a community of singers that have the courage and vulnerability to share their journey and their struggle with others. And to find affirmation that you are not alone.

If you’re ready to take the next step on your singing journey, click here


A new perspective on high notes

A new perspective on high notes


Today, I want to talk to you about singing higher.

Now, I’m not coming at this from a usual angle, so bear with me. What I want to talk about is why we struggle with singing higher – what’s really going on.

Go on YouTube and you’ll see so many videos telling you how to sing higher.
How to belt your notes.
How to sing this, how to sing that.
So much about singing higher and increasing your range.

And yet, you’re still struggling.

With such a huge amount of information out there, why are you still struggling with singing high notes? Because fundamentally, you’re not looking at high notes with the truth of what they are.

When we think of high notes, one of the biggest problems is that we’re imagining all our notes outside ourselves. We hear our sound inside our bones, and as an echo back from the walls around us. We don’t always come to things with the perspective of physics or the perspective of how things really work. But unless there is something physically wrong, the capacity to be able to actually stretch the voice out and increase range is common to all humans.

So, what can you do to prove this to yourself?

 

 

1. Lose the baggage

There can be a lot of baggage around the jargon of singing. Even the phrase ‘high note’ has some baggage around it: we imagine that something that is high is out of reach. So what are we likely to do to try and bridge that gap? We’re going to make some effort as if we’re lifting heavy weights. We’re going to strain and stretch.

But is the note actually out of reach? Well, no it’s not.

You need to rediscover how you can make singing easy for yourself by understanding some ways that we use our voices outside of singing. Understanding how the voice works and bringing simple exercises into the mix can help you understand singing in a different way.

 

 

2. Do these exercises

Watch the video from 04:23 for the exercises.

When you do these exercises, you notice things suddenly feeling so much more doable – because there’s less thinking. You create those sounds all the time, every day, in your talking voice. Because we don’t think it’s difficult, we allow the voice to work as it was naturally intended. We think the thought; the voice responds and moves into position; we create the sound. We’ve learned it by habit, by copying, by nature.

 

 

3. Stop striving

When it comes to singing, you need to stop striving.

Are your high notes really high? Or are they just a new space? Are they just new positions that you need to feel and find and experiment with?

Allow your perspective to shift towards listening from the inside out, and shaping and creating those sounds from the inside out.

Once you’ve got a handle on that and you’re not striving and straining for something outside yourself anymore, you can start to harness your voice in a more artistic and creative manner. And a more healthy one too.

So, until next time, have fun experimenting with your talking voice, with different sounds, and allow that to inform a new perspective on your higher range notes. I’d love to hear how you get on!


3 things exceptional singers do that average singers don’t

3 things exceptional singers do that average singers don’t


This week I want to talk to you about three things that exceptional singers do that average singers don’t. You can move through from the beginner stage into the advanced singer stage far quicker than you realise with these three tips.

If you really want to achieve your aspirations and your singing goals this year, then please listen up!

Or alternatively, here’s the scannable version:

 

1. Fall in love with the process of singing and the process of learning

Most singers want to have the results of singing. They want the good feelings. Singing is powerful; it gives you great feelings. But if you don’t fall in love with the process of learning in order to get those good results, then you will always say at the average level (no matter how much you want it!) and you’ll never become exceptional.

You’re not going to get those results until you actually commit. Until you fall in love with the process of learning (and that means being in a practice room, doing the exercises, singing the songs, feeling uncomfortable, not getting it right, learning new steps, working it out), you won’t ever find the exceptional capabilities that you have really capable of.

Nothing is more frustrating than feeling like you have not expanded yourself and reached your full potential. It’s why we set New Year’s resolution goals. And until you really fall in love with the process of  attaining your goal, rather than the result, you won’t be able to reach your full capacity.

 

2. Practise the positions – and understand why

Exceptional singers get really clear on what they’re trying to practise.

They will collaborate – they’ll work with someone who can help them get some perspective on their voice, find where the problems are and help them see what they need to focus on.

If I give you a downloadable exercise, or you go and find one on YouTube, you might enjoy it and it might seem to work for you, but it will be far more effective if you know:

  • How to choose an exercise
  • Why you’re doing the exercise
  • Which positions you’re practising

Just choosing a few songs or exercises, and singing until it feels a bit easier, won’t give you any added knowledge about your voice.

When the singing gurus say, “It’s better not to do any exercises at all than to do the wrong ones”, they’re partly correct. Because if you’re going to push past your own boundary level, not listening to your own voice, you’re going to compromise yourself – and you might even damage your voice.

An exceptional singer has started to understand a few things about voice – and about their own voice. They’ve understood their strengths, they’ve understood their weaknesses. They’ve understood which areas of their voice they really need to build their goals and challenges and workouts around, in order to improve – and they choose to practise what will benefit them most.

 

3. Practise your performance

Exceptional singers practise their performances before the performance. It’s called a rehearsal (and no, I’m not talking about a band rehearsal where everybody plays and shouts at each other and nobody warms up!).

They’re in the practice room in the same way that they are with their exercises, in the same way they are with their music, and they are choosing their moves. They are in the mirror. They are looking towards how they want to be on stage, where it’s a transfer of energy. It’s a dance that  starts with you, and exceptional singers know this.

They don’t wait until they get on the stage, and they don’t rely on it coming from somebody else.

You need to move yourself into an energetic state where you are focused and clear. And if you can learn to do that in performance, if you can learn to do that in the silence of your practice room.

 

Do you feel it’s time for you to say, “It’s time for me to look towards exceptional”?

Are you ready to:

  • Ditch the excuses
  • Stick to a plan
  • Brave disappointment (and bounce back)
  • Follow through, even when you don’t feel like it?

If that’s you, then please get in touch and share what’s holding you back.

Because now is your time.

You can do it.

 

Want to move from average to exceptional? Get in touch and share what’s holding you back.


16 practise habits of successful singers

16 practise habits of successful singers


Would you like to feel more motivated to practise your singing? Use my 16 top tips to help you move forward. Why don’t you have a go today?

I have to say this is one of my personal favourite topics and one of the least talked about professionally. There are techniques for singing and so how it functions that it is mind-boggling. There are CDs and books written from the 1900s up to the present day giving vocal exercises galore.

I also personally think that not every method has the whole truth about singing, but brought together they form a wonderful tapestry of more skills than any singer can take and use.

But what does a singer do with these exercises and how do they know whether they are using them correctly? When as a singer you only hear a portion of your whole sound and never as the audience hear it, how do you judge whether you are getting it right and not just spending time practicing bad habits or simply getting discouraged?

Unlike an instrumentalist, a singer should not be rehearsing for hours on end, especially at full belt. If you really understand how to practise your songs, your learning time can be cut by more than half, leaving valuable time to explore other areas of your performance and work on your craft in other ways.

# 1 Loosen it up

Your first goal in practice is to generally loosen your vocal cord muscles, ligaments and reduce tension. The use of lip trills, speech exercises and siren sounds and hums can loosen up, even out your breath and stretch your ligament range when you are singing. Many singers simply add too much pressure initially or hold their breath and their posture can be slouchy and bad from long days sitting down in the office.

No athlete forces their muscles into submission but too often singers go straight in with singing their songs. Decide whether you are feeling on top form, have had a hard day at work, been unwell lately or are just a little tired as these will all determine how long you may have to warm up for (your head as much as your voice) and what your energy level is likely to be.

# 2 Have a routine

Begin with the exercise routine given to you by your teacher. In the past I sang straight open vowels as it was the traditional approach. Some naturally placed voices (and what I mean by that is a voice whose tone and pitch fit with full access to frequencies and harmonics in the voice) are able to sing in the centre of the vowel and may begin initially with open vowels, but personally I like to use consonants before vowels (as in speech level singing exercises) to fast track that process.

I’m a big fan of new approaches to exercises because we are learning more and more about how to help singers and I really don’t think that an approach that takes years of doing exercises that have little success is a great one.

# 3 Question why

While doing these exercises ask yourself “Why?” Why are you doing this particular exercise? When I asked a group of students at a university why they practiced, answers varied from feeling good, being able to sing the song to “I was actually told to in order to get it right”.

What is that exercise designed to do? If you don’t know ask your teacher, they should be able to give you a valid answer. Why have they chosen it for you? If you have a clear understanding of why you are doing a particular exercise you will be able to build up a reference library of exercises that you can tailor-make to your vocal strengths and weaknesses and not simply act mindlessly singing exercises with little idea of their effect. Exercises can be practiced wrongly and cause as much damage as not doing them at all.

# 4 Start quiet

Make sure initially you are not practising too loudly at the start, but only increase the “leaning” and “pressing” or volume aspect once your muscles can respond without constriction in the throat or locking the breath.

# 5 Little by little

Little by little increase volume in a balanced way so that all of the vocal range will sympathetically come together. No blasting the bottom at the expense of the top and vice versa.

# 6 Find a private space

If you share a house or find it difficult to get some “alone” time, consider hiring a church hall or room to practice in. This is a great way to simply let off steam. Sing your heart out, test whether you are actually a bigger voice holding yourself back through trying not to disturb the neighbour .

# 7 Slow it down

Slow exercises down if you need to concentrate on sections of the voice that need extra work. For example you may be singing an exercise and flip in the middle over the break, or it goes a little woolly. Simply stop, repeat the exercise and pay more attention to the sensations you are feeling. If it continues try another exercise, walk around, change something rather than ignore what is going on.

# 8 Be thorough

Sometimes it better to just practice one exercise for 10 minutes really thoroughly, thinking of the sensations, rather than whip through a routine which you pay little attention to.

# 9 Move!

Walk around, swing your arms, move in your practice time and make a habit of making sure you are not increasing tension at any point.

# 10 Change it up

I often advise singers when practicing songs or exercises to stop at the “stuck” point and change the rhythm or take few notes out of context and play with it. Add a different vowel/consonant combination, look at it from a different angle rather than simply singing it straight through.

# 11 Drive carefully

Lots of students (adult learners!) practise in the car. I’ve done it too… but a word of caution: combined with the road noise and obvious lack of concentration and mobility, realise it is a far from ideal method. You would be better using hums and sirens that don’t require much singing out.

# 12 Refine, refine, refine

As you get more advanced at practise you will come to realise it is more about the detail and working little by little into odd, specific areas than pounding the pavement, bashing out lots and lots of exercises. Listen out for areas of the voice that need refinement and look for exercises that deal specifically with these areas.

# 13 Be open to suggestions

There are many methods that work effectively depending on your learning style.

# 14 Keep a diary or practise journal

See if you can find consistent areas that seem to crop up time and time again.

# 15 Clear your head

At the end of detailed practise go away for 10 minutes, clear your head and then simply sing for pleasure. Practise is about training muscle memory and increasing stamina and flexibility of your voice, but performance is about connecting and communicating the song to the audience out there. So to test whether things are improving, go away and come back and simply sing the piece through. You will soon be able to tell if you’ve fixed that section or if more practise is required.

# 16 Try it three times and move on

That’s my rule. If I try something three times in different ways and it’s still not working, I move on. It’s important that your brain doesn’t get “stuck” but that you have time to come back to it at a later date.

 

Example 30-minute routine:

  • 5 minutes – stretch, move, get head in the right frame of mind, use siren sounds, lip trills etc to get the breathing and flexibility going.
  • 10 minutes – moving from gentle exercising into moderate exercising that deals with specific areas in the voice.
  • 10 minutes – song work – one song only. Begin with areas that need work if you have sung it before and avoid singing it over and over again.
  • Use the 80/20 rule using sounds in the songs like lip trills, hums, consonant and vowel combinations to find where the voice needs to adjust. Then take a two-minute breather.
  • The last 5 minutes – sing through as if it doesn’t matter. Just perform it and you will soon see where work needs to be done another time.

Please leave me your comments and what your favourite practise tips are!


7 ways to overcome negative thinking

7 ways to overcome negative thinking


Have you ever struggled to get rid of negative thinking?

I have. In fact we all have. You know those doubts and fears and mild depressions that can overshadow us like a cloud. I’m not talking about major chemical depressions those are very different, but the mood swings and the feeling that no matter some days how hard you try, you have trouble shaking it off.

Well if you struggle with these thoughts often, then it is robbing you of confidence and if you don’t stop; this thief will rob you of opportunities and the joy of everyday life too.

Here are a few reasons why we struggle with these thoughts:

  • Family problems
  • Peer pressure
  • Disappointing results
  • Fear of failure, humiliation – or succeeding
  • Criticism
  • Low self esteem
  • Lack of a clear vision for the future

I could go on! So let’s get way more positive immediately.

In order to stop the thief from stealing your peace and plans you have to understand how to get control of your thinking…

Which can be challenging when we have 65,000 thoughts a day!

How can we do it?

 

Get out of the storm

When you feel that your head is about to explode with ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ and fears of “I must have my future all mapped out today”, get out! Literally get out and go for a walk in the fresh air, or go and do something practical. Most importantly don’t try and get control of the storm of thoughts running through your head. Let the storm pass by.

You can’t make a decision what to have for dinner tonight in this state let alone what to do to move through your greatest fears and move forward. Only when you fell calmer will you be in a better frame of thinking to look at it all.

Get clear on what the problem is

Begin to journal. Write it out, what’s bugging you? Why are you so afraid? What happened that hurt you so bad? What are you most worried about if you do this or that? What went wrong? Why didn’t you see it coming? What can you actually learn from this? What really needs to change even if it worked last time? What story are you making up as to why you can’t? What pattern are you repeating?

Get a Vision for the next 3 months 12 months and 10 years

Strangely now is then time to lift your eyes and look to the hills. Plot a way back from it all. Planning so far in advance can mentally lift you from your current state. You begin to get curious instead of fatalistic. Your frustration and impatience at the current situations are only temporary. You don’t have to have it all worked out you just have to begin plotting markers along the road.

Get into a routine

No matter how hard it seems to do, if you can maintain a routine while you move through your thinking patterns they will begin to lift sooner. It shifts your focus from the energy that is only self focused. Start practicing or writing or walking or doing a social media campaign for 15 mins. a day to start. Try and pick the same time. You will fight it I promise, but who is going to win here your dreams or the comfort zone?

Get out of the rut

We all fear breaking out of the box, but you only have one life and tomorrow is not a day of the week! On average apparently people watch around 6 hrs of TV a day! That’s a whole evening after work or daytime TV! If you want more for your singing, then you have to raise the bar and add another dimension. There are 2 choices, lower your expectations or raise your game. I suggest the latter!

Get better at talking

Both to yourself (stop that negative mouth telling you it’s OK for others but not for you) and to others. Say something positive to others. I’ve been challenged to write 3 points to be positive every day on Facebook (why don’t you join me). Scientists are now saying that if you keep thinking negative or positive thoughts your brain creates a neuro-pathway and it changes brain function. In other words you think your way to a better life or not.

Get Confident

Confidence is developed one step at a time. No one is confident beginning new things, but instead begin some new routines, habits and talk to get confident. If you would like my help to take this further then join me on The Confident Singer Program for more details.