This is the second in a series where Brett Manning Associates from around the globe share their perspective on common problems faced by singers, the consequences, and what can be done to address them.
Plan Your Performance
BMA vocal coach Sharon Rowntree is a veteran performer and understands the role that preparation plays in engaging an audience and having a successful show. She feels it’s a must for singers to carefully and thoroughly plan their performances.
“Whether you are singing at church, at a gig, in your home, you should always know how you intend to sing that song,” she said. “You must keep rehearsing the song until you fully understand how it will be delivered. There are some successful, popular singers making a great living, not because they are great singers, but because they are great performers. They present a story and entertain the audience. They make the audience feel the emotion, and leave the performance taking away every feeling such as elation, sorrow, and joy.”
She feels that every time you rehearse, you must be totally focused on giving it your full attention. In fact, bad habits require time and attention for correction. If you put off dealing with a bad habit you end up reinforcing the bad habit.
“Don’t practice when you don’t have time to do it properly,” she said. “That will only put off dealing with bad habits for later, and make it harder to get things right later. You should also record your practice, and listen to how you have done your exercises. Evaluate, identify, and acknowledge what you did well and what you did badly. Then talk to another singer or teacher about the problems and what you did well. Encourage feedback!”
Rest Is Necessary
Another issue Sharon sees with singers is that they all too often push through injuries or illness, which can make things worse by inviting further injury.
“Most injuries need rest to get better,” she said. “Many of the great Divas doing daily shows will not speak all day to give their voice a rest. Vaporizing can get moisture down the wind pipe to the chords. Drinking water will maintain proper hydration and help with body moisture. Calli tea is very soothing and is available from the Singing Success website.”
Get Real With Imitation
Zuke Smith of Brett Manning Vocal Method: East Coast, U.S.A. sees imitation as a potential open invitation to bad habits.
“Imitation is good to a point, but when the imitation brings in issues with tension you can get stuck on a treadmill of bad habits,” she said. “I would never say a student is trapped by imitation because it’s a right of passage. We learn by imitating. My job is to make sure they imitate the best singers and not ones who have bad habits.”
Zuke understands that many students initially learn by imitating, and that as small children we tend to imitate or mirror behaviors in order to get a feel for things that we grow into and take on as our own.