The voice is an amazing instrument but it does not run itself; it is run by your conscious mind -says Meribeth Dayme.
As singers we sometimes focus too much on the physical and neglect our mental state. When we do this our performance lacks soul and expression.
Here are 5 ways to power up your practice, reveal your authentic self and develop your connection with the audience.
Shake Up Your Practice
Sports athletes don’t practice the same thing in an identical fashion over and over again. They don’t want poor habits to form, that want spontaneity and an ability to be flexible and responsive. A tennis player will hit a ball a thousand times, but each with a different angle or force.
If you are learning a song, experiment! Convert your song into dance, rap it, tap it out in different rhythms, visualise yourself performing in different venues.
This will enable you to overcome mental blocks onstage for example, forgetting lyrics or getting distracted by the audience. But, most importantly, you will gain more musical freedom.
Set Your Intention
Before warming up or practicing, it is important to set your intention. Clarify in your mind what it is you want to gain from this activity.
If you have an audition coming up, practice visualizing for the big day. Imagine yourself performing your absolute best: How does it go? What do you wear and say? What does the panel say to you?
Start visualising as soon as you can, this may be weeks before the audition. This practice will give you a chance to build up positive energy and remove anxieties. Your brain will respond because it doesn’t know the difference between your imagination and reality.
You can feel when you truly connect with the audience – it’s almost magnetic. This can only happen when you go beyond your awareness of your body and what you are doing.
Be aware of everything that is going on around you. All the sounds, smells and movements that are in your environment. Use that to power your performance rather than trying to block it out.
You have the power to change how the audience perceives you by being fully aware, projecting positive mental thoughts and being completely in the moment.
I encourage singers to integrate joy, play and imagination into their practice.
When you are about to warm up for singing, start with something that requires no criticism. Don’t start with scales – you have to get a scale right. If you worry about getting something right you will tense up and think negatively.
Start with something fun. Dance, play, experiment. Do more than what just requires your intellect. Use your imagination. Make sure it feels comfortable and has flow. Warm up exercises mustn’t feel static or rigid.
Beware Of Imitation
Imitation artists have explained that in order to sound like somebody else they copy the faults of that person’s voice. Singers who try to sound like their idols may not find success but may injure their voices.
Comparing yourself to other singers can reduce your self-esteem. Enjoying the learning process of singing as a unique individual will help you love the sound of your own voice.
It is very easy to want to emulate a singer who is on stage making millions of dollars but being self-critical will interrupt your journey of self-discovery. Accept where you are and get excited by your potential.
Meribeth Dayme is the founder of CoreSinging – a universal approach to singing, and the author of various books including Dynamics of the Singing Voice and The Performer’s Voice. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, a Master’s in Sacred Music and a Doctorate in Music (Performance and Anatomy).
She won the Human Communication International Award in 2000 and the Van Lawrence Fellowship awarded by the Voice Foundation in 2001. Find out more about her extensive work on her website.