If you have never had a singing lesson before, it can all seem a bit daunting, regardless of how old you are or how confident you are in your current ability.
The biggest fear for most of us is not knowing what will happen during that hour. Here is a brief breakdown of how a typical singing lesson with me works!
Warming Up Your Voice
Warming up our voice is as important as warming up any muscle in our body before we do a workout. Your voice is a delicate muscle, and needs to be warmed up gently in order to perform at its best. Singing also requires your whole body to be involved, free of tension and ready to work in order to produce the best possible sound. Lots of people do not realise how much your body needs to engage to support your voice; while you probably won’t get a sweat on, singing really is a workout and burns a lot of calories! If your body is full of tension, which a lot of us hold from day-to-day stress and incorrect seating positions, this will have a negative impact on your vocal ability. It is important that your body is ready to go and in good, working condition first and foremost.
Breathing Exercises & Humming Work
We will start with some breathing exercises, getting our breath sitting in the ‘right place’. The way that we breathe when we speak is often very different from the correct way of breathing to sing, so this is something we will work on quickly to get you on the right track. We then move on to gentle humming work, all with the common goal of finding the voice’s correct, comfortable placement before we even begin to sing.
Warm up exercises are crucial; not only are they necessary to look after your voice and get it ready to sing, they are the most important learning tool in terms of correct vocal technique and placement. I have been shocked to hear of teachers leaving the room while their students perform warm up scales to a pre-recorded backing track. Your teacher should be fully aware of your technique during your warm ups, picking up on any elements that may be preventing your voice from sitting properly ahead of your work on songs. I will always clearly demonstrate and explain how small changes in our vocal technique can have a huge improvement on our tone, clarity and projection, with easy-to-follow ‘tools’ and ‘tricks’ - everyone feels a bit silly doing them until they hear and feel how much better their voice is and feels!
Working on Your Songs
Once your voice is warm and your technique has been addressed, we will then put that work into practice through your chosen piece(s). Depending on your singing goals, that may be in the form of selecting appropriate pieces for exam preparation, or for a public performance, or simply for your own enjoyment. I can always advise you on suitable repertoire depending on your current ability, your voice type and your stylistic preferences, making sure that you really enjoy the pieces you are working on, but I am also more than happy for students to suggest songs that they enjoy and WANT to work on!
It is important to remember that the work we have done in your warm-ups will be frequently referred to throughout your work on your songs. This gives us the opportunity to see how tricky phrases and passages can be overcome by applying correct vocal technique, and pulls the entire lesson together cohesively.
For all songs, we will work on key elements of delivery such as vocal placement, phrasing, lyric conveyance and breath work. Depending on your chosen style, genre and the context of your singing preparations, your song work may also require us to work on elements such as translations, performance presence and recital formation.
I will only ever move at a pace appropriate to your ability and encourage students to ask all and any questions about what their voice is doing - no question is too silly!
The more you understand what is going on inside your body when you sing, the more aware you will be of your instrument, and subsequently you will produce a better sound. The voice is a complex instrument as we cannot ‘see’ what is happening most of the time, as it is primarily all happening inside of us. With clear analogies and useful technique ‘tools’, I can help you to develop a better understanding of what mechanisms are at work inside of your body while you sing and how to get the best out of them.
If you would like to know more about how my singing lessons work, and to book in your FREE welcome discussion, please get in touch!