When I was 7 years old, my mother had me audition for the Southern California Conservatory of Music. From that point on, I was lucky to study voice privately and on a scholarship with the founder of this amazing facility until I was 18 years old.
Lurrine Burgess, my first vocal coach, was classically trained and super strict--she knew how to get results!
Lurrine had each student prepare and perform 8 new songs every 3 months, come rain or shine!
This is where I first noticed that some singers would get better and some would not. And the ones who didn't eventually quit!
I almost quit myself, were it not for the encouragement of Lurrine. She taught me so much of what I know about singing success and coaching.
Lurrine said that failure is for those who stop trying.
She would often would end each lesson by pointing to this quote, which she had framed on the wall right by the front door of her vocal studio.
Being the rebellious teenager that I was, I used to think that meant I could skip a day and Lurrine would never notice! But these days, boy can I hear the difference in my voice when I practice 5 days versus 7 days per week. It is night and day.
How quickly you start sounding better is directly linked to whether or not you are consistent with your practice.
I want you to become a singer who is always getting better, so here is a brief overview of what I know will yield fast, lifetime results.
First and foremost, you must maintain a daily vocal check-in and workout. This is really about showing up everyday to activate your breath and get your juices flowing until you feel fully warmed up. Some days this can take 10 minutes. Other days it can take 30 minutes.
For example, professional athletes don’t just occasionally show up for practice when they feel like it, or just arrive to the game hoping for the best, right? Athletes train with their coach, their team and on their own--every day. They take time to study and maintain specific muscles groups every single day.
Singing is no different, because vocalists are athletes too.
Vocal maintenance is about making sure you stay in top shape and improving upon certain exercises and techniques that you already know how to do well. It is the heart of your practice and a way for you to stay in tune and in touch with your voice. It is a way for you to reinforce proper technique and relax into your body.
Consistency is key; it won’t work unless you do it on a daily basis.
Which leads me to the next essential key to maximize your results and stop wasting time:
Here's what I mean by this:
Are you actively staying engaged with your mind and body when you practice? Or are you on auto-pilot?
Are you sending visual cues to the body? For example: do you consciously expand your rib cage when you inhale? Do you lift your soft palate and make space behind your face each time you go for a high note?
Or are you just physically forcing the note out? Or thinking about what you want for dinner?
Singing is the ultimate test of your ability to connect with your mind and body.
Each exercise or note you sing should be performed with the intention to help you dive deeper into focusing your mind on the sensations in your body. There are cues and directions you must give your body if it starts to tense up or if you run out of breath--are you aware of what they are?
Active mental cues are key to your progress. If you learn how to sing and connect in this way, you will find that getting results can happen fairly quickly. It doesn’t have to take weeks, months or years!
A quality vocal maintenance session results in feeling good, free and relaxed in your mind and body. Whereas, unproductive singing or just jolting in singing songs, no matter the length of time you spend, will lead to poor results and the reinforcement of bad habits.
Challenging yourself with new songs and advanced techniques is great, but this is not meant to happen without a proper vocal maintenance workout first. You will get better, faster if you follow these guidelines.
Superstars, commit to a daily vocal maintenance schedule and learn how to use effective vocal techniques and mental cues that will develop fast results.
Stop wasting your time singing the same exercises or jolting into songs on auto-pilot. Remember, it is not just about what you do on a daily basis, but how you do what you do that makes a difference.
And by all means, don’t quit!