February 23, 2015 by Tony Lee
One of my favorite things about being a private voice teacher is developing relationships with my students and watching them grow from week to week. Not only do they grow as singers, but they also just become really cool people. The first lessons are usually the same. I’ll say, “Alright! Tell me what you love about your voice and tell me something about your voice that you hope to improve in our sessions.” 90% of the time they’ll say, “I’m really good at singing on pitch, but I wish I could sing louder.” I always follow that up with explaining that being a great singer is not about being the loudest person in the room (no one wants to stand next to that girl in choir), but it’s about singing both loudly and quietly with power and energy.
Music teachers are always advocating the importance of music lessons for a person’s overall development, but I specifically want to go to bat for voice lessons in this blog. Why should you take voice lessons? Why should you learn how to sing “properly?” Aside from the fact that performing is so much fun, we learn to sing because we want to be better at something. We want to be better at our very first instrument. Today we are going to discuss what we learn about ourselves when we take voice lessons.
We are capable of more than we think.
More often than I would like, when I explain that I teach people how to sing for a living, I get this response. “Oh, you would hate teaching me! I can’t carry a tune in a basket!” I really do believe that singing well is a skill that has to be developed through knowing the right tools. Yes, even tone deaf people! There is no greater feeling than seeing a student’s face light up after discovering their first “real” sound. Their first burst of self-confidence! That sound is the result of having to think about singing in a way that they hadn’t before and just going for it. The most common occurence is finally hitting that note that they didn’t think they could reach. I love being able to look at them and say, “Remember when you couldn’t do that a month ago?! You just sang it like it was nothing!” Through practice, the skill that seemed impossible and then was difficult, eventually became second nature. Singing stretches our physical limits and helps us become more aware that we can learn how to do anything if we just go through the steps!
We become more outgoing.
In voice lessons, we learn that singing is a multi-step process that requires more physical strength than one would think. We learn that we sound our best when we throw caution to the wind and try something new. Also, most voice teachers try to get you feel where your voice resonates by making really loud, silly sounds. I’ll never forget the first time my voice teacher made me sound like a siren. I looked at her and said, “You want me to do what now?!” I realize now that she was trying to get me to make an uninhibited sound powered by maximum breath flow. Voice lessons give us an excuse to be the loudest, most artistic versions of ourselves without fear of embarrassment. In fact, as I type this, I’m thinking of the “Barbaric Yawp” scene from Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams helps Ethan Hawke find his voice. Love that movie! That mindset can help us out when we’re in situations where we have to talk to people we don’t know or talk in front of a large group. When we stop worrying about making a bad sound and put our energy into how to make a great sound, the result is beautiful singing and an awesome performance!
We become more thoughtful artists.
I love that singers get an extra element to their music. Lyrics. Two art forms in one. When we take voice lessons, we get to break away from technique and figure out how to tell a story. Through that we have to have an understanding of the text that passes the need to just memorize words. An audience is going to love a song that’s memorized, but you’ll captivate an audience if you show that you understand a song on a deeper, more personal level. Taking your lyrics, breaking them down, taking that line that makes absolutely no sense and making sense out of it helps to make it your own. Soon you realize that you have a deeper understanding of this song than when you started. Perfecting the performance of a song on so many different levels will help set you apart from what other performers are doing because there is never an interpretation quite like yours!
by Freeway Music Voice instructor Mari Hazel
by Freeway Music Voice Instructor Mari Hazel
Here is an article from WikiHow about warming up your voice: