By Roger Beale, courtesy of %%Christian Musician%%

I am not against practice. Far from it! At some point you have to work at becoming a better singer. All great singers either performed or practiced a lot early on. However, it is a fact that many great singers practice much less than you might think. Some have a warm-up procedure they run through for twenty minutes every other day. Others will intentionally avoid a practice session after a successful concert, because they don't want to lose the feel of a good vocal performance.

Generally speaking, singers come with high-maintenance voices and low-maintenance voices. High-maintenance voices require constant work and large amounts of time in the practice room. Low-maintenance voices may be fine with very little practice. Whichever type of voice you have, with today's busy lifestyles, you probably don't have a lot of time or energy to practice many hours during the week. That's okay. You may not need to. By practicing in a more efficient and effective manner and applying the following practice techniques, you can sing better without an excessive amount of time in the practice room.

#1 - Forget perfection. The perfect voice is an absolute illusion. It doesn't exist. Try to develop a dependable vocal technique, but don't demand perfection. Some singers are always worrying about their voices, working on their high range one day, their breath control the next. They buy every vocal book, tape, and video they can find, trying to learn what they think is a professional vocal technique. Then they go sing with other performers and get depressed because they think the other singers are better. Once you have a dependable voice, stick with it, even if it is not perfect.

#2 - Stay with one method. With all that is available for singers these days, you can get information from hundreds of vocal teachers, each with a different concept of how to sing. It's easy to get confused. Instead, ask yourself two questions. "What method or teacher will I use?" and "What is my biggest vocal problem?" I suggest you learn one technique, then focus on your most common vocal fault.

#3 - Practice smart, not long. Your practice time needs to be short and focused. When you go to the practice room, focus on a few basics, such as posture, eliminating tension, filling the body with air, or vocal flexibility. Limit your practice time. Work in focused stints, and then leave.

#4 - Don't try 100 percent. Don't think of every note as the end of the world. Develop a casual attitude toward singing. Trying too hard will prevent peak performance. Everybody has bad days as a singer, really bad days. One note is not life or death.

#5 - Let it go! Too many singers tighten up as they try to sing a song. They try to force the voice into submission rather than focusing on the message of the song. While you are singing, you don't have time to think about technique and adjustments. Instead, just let the song happen. Compare it to a child in a swing. You pull him back, and then you just LET GO!

#6 - You are unique. If you take away a singer's personality or style, they will have trouble. If your voice sounds a little different or you sing in a very individualized style, it does not mean that you can't sing well. If you couldn't see some well-known artists, but you could hear their voices, you would instantly recognize them. Don't duplicate or imitate other singers. Let your unique style develop.

#7 - Focus on what is right, not what is wrong. Too many singers focus on a problem, not what they do well. If a vocal problem arises then go home, wait until the morning and see if the problem goes away. It usually does.


Vocal Health Tip:
Beware! If you have a slight sore throat and you are considering using a throat lozenge, avoid products with a menthol base. Menthol irritates the lining of the throat. Find a product that uses glycerine instead. Some suggested products are a candy called Pastillines (sold in tins), Smith Bros. throat lozenges, or a spray called Pro-Seed (found in your local health food store). Try these products, your throat will thank you.

Roger Beale is one of Atlanta's foremost vocal coaches. He presently works with professional singers in all areas of musical performance. His teaching and coaching facility, The Voice House, is involved in the management and care of the professional voice. Many of his students have won vocal competitions, scholarships, and are well known artists in the Christian music industry. Roger can be contacted at:

The Voice House
1675 Virginia Ave., Suite 103
College Park, GA 30337
(404) 766-0526
e-mail: voxhaus@mindspring.com
web site: www.thevoicehouse.com