Hello my amazing singers! I hope everyone has had a magical summer filled with all the things summer dreams are made of (insert summer dream here). I've been touring and teaching and traveling a lot, and so I haven't updated on blog posts in a little while - but I am back now with a vengeance with a new website(!), and with Autumn on my side. Oh yeah. Get ready.
With the spirit of a new season upon us, and with Fall always seeming like a time to settle in, hunker down, and get to steppin', I wanted to throw out a quick tip on practice. Ahh, practice. Always necessary, and yet stealthily avoided (believe me, I know). I've been having this conversation A LOT with my students - questions of how much to practice, how TO practice (read your notebooks!!), and "what if I'm practicing the complete wrong thing?!" have been coming up lately.
My answer: practice always seems to work best when we're
1) realistic and flexible about it and
2) we do it.
Not meaning to be snarky there, really! What I mean is this: it's highly unlikely we're ever going to have all the long, leisurely time we want to devote to our creative & artistic pursuits (and a funny phenomenon happens even when we do - the ability to avoid doing something you know you need to do can be impressive, y'all; I know it first-hand). So, instead of saying we need to practice for an hour every. single. day. and then inevitably falling short of that goal is only going to set you up for failure. Instead, try just 10 minutes. That's right - anyone can do anything for 10 minutes, and chances are, once you get into it, you'll turn the timer off and be really in the vibes, and you can keep going. The important part is to just get started - if, after 10 minutes, you really need to move on, or aren't feeling it, then that's fine too. Maybe your practice for that day isn't about doing scales or singing through a song you've been working on - maybe it's about feeding your creativity in other ways, by taking a walk, listening to new music, reading some poetry - anything else to feed your inspiration well.
The other important piece is the "what if I'm not practicing correctly?!" concern. While a valid concern - I always say I want you guys to be mentally vigilant with your own, individual singing "bad habits" - I know for a fact that part of the process is trusting in the process. I know that so much of singing or anything creative, really, can feel sometimes like you're feeling around in the dark - but that stumbling, and trying, and failing, and then the A-HA! moment, is all a part of the learning. So just DO it - something, anything. Even if you have to just go back to basics and focus on proper breathing for a few minutes, and then gradually upping the ante by adding trills, and then sung notes, and then singing a few lines of a song, all the while focusing on your breathing habits - is enough.
Trust your voice and let it show you some thangs.