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Practice vs Performance

Overview

  • What is Vocal Training?
  • Practice Environment
  • Mindful Practice
  • Vocal Health

What is Vocal Training?

Vocal training is when we intentionally focus on the coordination of the muscles used for singing in order to improve our skills during performance. The most efficient way of doing this is in the mindset of the “vocal gym.” Just like any other physical skill, such as dancing, painting, and running, time spent on technique allows the individual to perform better on stage, canvas and the track.

 

Practice Environment

Finding a suitable space to practice can play a dramatic role in your progress. The less distractions you have and the less self-conscious you are about what others may think of your voice, the more mindful and honest your training will become. This way, you can improve your skills in shorter periods of time.

When practicing, be sure to:

  • Find a private space where others won’t distract you
  • Be in a quiet environment that you can hear yourself well in
  • Be well-hydrated in advance and have water with you
  • Have an instrument you play (or device to play MP3s from) to interact with

If you don’t have a private space at home, work or school, remember that your voice is ALWAYS with you! So be creative and work at lower volumes to start with in order to create new behaviors and build confidence as you step up to louder volumes where others may hear you.

Mindful Practice

When we do an exercise, our muscles move and get a “work out,” but the real training takes place in the brain. This is where the term Mindful Practice comes from; the more focused, or mindful, you are when training, the faster your repetitive action will become a new learned behavior.

 

How Learning Works

All skills and physical behaviors are created through intentional repetition. The deeper the programming is in the mind, the more automated the behaviors become, which then allow your emotions to influence, express and interpret the skills available. All of this takes place through the actions of our conscious, subconscious and unconscious.

Three Branches of Consciousness

There are three neurological branches of information, coming from the brain to the body, that simultaneously instruct the muscles of the instrument what to do:

1: Conscious
The process of making decisions.

2: Subconscious
Learned skills and behaviors stored in the form of millions of tiny programs.

3: Unconscious
Source of emotional influence and real-time responses.

When we practice, our goal is to minimize emotional activity produced by our unconscious-mind. This allows us to build skills in our subconscious-mind by making intentional, conscious, decisions. For example, you can make a decision (conscious-mind) to learn a song. Then, you repeat the song several times to memorize the melody and lyrics (subconscious-mind). Finally, you sing the song with character, style and feeling (unconscious-mind). This process is what allows you to recall a song accurately, and express yourself more freely, even while thinking of other things in the moment.

The Importance of Looking After your Voice

Your vocal instrument is made up of living muscle tissue, nerves, cartilage and bones. All of these things require a balance of nutrients, hydration and activity in order to function to their capacity. The condition, or health, of your body and mind (collectively your voice), will have a significant impact on your ability to demonstrate your skills as a singer and express yourself as an artist. This means that the choices you make on a day-to-day basis will directly influence you and your voice. This includes what you eat, how much water you consume, how well you sleep, and how often you practice. If you are unable to reproduce the sounds you want consistently, start by looking at the health of your voice.

Activity

Think of a physical skill, other than singing, that you have developed (ie: painting, swimming, etc). Next, identify the conscious, subconscious and unconscious steps that took place for you to develop it.

What Did You Learn?

  • The proper way to train your voice
  • The best environment to practice in
  • What “mindful practice” means
  • The conscious, subconscious, unconscious minds
  • The importance of vocal health