I have not met a singer yet, who does not want to improve their voice, but what do we really mean by that? – asks Dr Dan.
How often do you practice your singing only to get to the end of your practice session thinking, “Well, that sucked!” It is not unusual to think negatively about your singing and what you have just produced; in performance or practice.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with critical reflection. A proactive response to a poor performance can propel you forward and help to refine and hone your vocal skills. However, short-sighted, negative comments, even when only stated to ourselves, serve only to discourage and hinder our growth as singers.
In my teaching studio, singers are permitted to reflect on their practice, nominating their displeasure with what they have produced, but only if they can simultaneously suggest specific areas that will be worked on during the next sing through.
This approach is helpful when you are workshopping single notes and phrases. However, being a proficient singer with an excellent singing voice is much more than singing dots and lyrics on a page.
There is far more to you and your voice. If you want to be a five-star singer you need to be:
1. Personally grounded
Who do you think you are? No. Really? The way you perceive yourself will often govern how your voice develops.
Western society seems to promote a celebrity culture as well as celebrating inflated egos. Neither fame nor unhealthy egos lead to better singing.
Learn contentment with your current place in the world, while simultaneously seeking to better the world around you; first for others and then for yourself.
Learn to be satisfied with what your voice can do today as you continue to develop it for tomorrow.
2. Emotionally mature
I say it all the time: “great singing is about communication.”
Singers who can express themselves, with clarity, through the narrative of a song, are those who actively work on their emotional maturity. The development of a performer’s character can clarify the message that the singer is seeking to deliver.
Life experience often serves to mature us emotionally, providing us with opportunities to grow. If you are a younger singer, you too can embrace emotional maturity by tackling life’s challenges as they come your way.
3. Technically proficient
At this point, you may be forgiven for thinking that I am a spiritual nutter who thinks that good singing is all in our heads and hearts.
While I do believe that we need a strong psychological foundation to sing well, it is all about underpinning the voice technically.
Every voice will be advantaged by exercise and technically challenging activity.
4. Stylistically expressive
If the character of the singer is the foundation, and the technical proficiency is the framework, then the stylistic expression is the cladding and fascia.
Style is what our audience sees and hears. Ultimately, we do not want our audience talking about our accuracy of note or our excellent breath management any more than we want people discussing the cement slab that our house is built on.
No, we want people engaged in our stylistic expression that gives rise to our message.
An intimate love ballad will often be benefitted by a breathy tone and rough offsets. These are the characteristics that people will hear, but they will not notice <style=”text-decoration: line-through;”>is the excellent breath management that effortlessly provides the breathy tone.
5. Artistically expansive
The psychologically secure singer, whose technique is sound and whose voice is stylistically appropriate, will be set free to be artistically expansive.
Freedom in Creativity is the holy grail of all art forms. As a singer, your capacity to artistically express yourself is restricted only by your inability (unwillingness?) to work on the other aspects already covered.
Interestingly, when an artist becomes artistically expansive, they often draw attention because their art is communicating with clarity. This, in turn, will require the artist to contemplate their place in the world once again; bringing them full circle to the place at which they began their journey (personally grounded).
I believe every one of us has what it takes to become a five-star singer. The question is, are you brave enough to intentionally and methodically develop each of the five areas that we have covered?