Recently, I was asked by my colleague, Molly Mahoney (of The Prepared Performer), if I would compile and contribute a list of three tips for singers for her e-book, “Top Tips from Top Vocal Coaches.” As a big fan of Molly’s work, I quickly agreed. Her book includes singing tips from over a dozen talented and knowledgeable voice teachers/vocal coaches around the world, and I’m thrilled to be included among them. The book is currently available as a free download here.
As someone who has A LOT to say about singing (as you’ve probably noticed), it was actually rather difficult to come up with three salient tips. There are so many topics I could’ve touched on: vocal technique, repertoire, performance, voice science, etc. Ultimately, I decided to keep things as simple and direct as possible. Below are the three tips I contributed to the book. I hope they are useful!
1. Always take a holistic, full body approach to singing. Voice maintenance isn’t just about singing scales and warming up regularly. In order to ensure that the vocal mechanism is performing at optimal capacity, you MUST get an adequate amount of sleep, eat a nutritious and anti-inflammatory diet catered to your body’s needs, manage stress and anxiety in a healthy manner (yoga, massages, acupuncture, whatever works), and develop a personal and intimate connection with your singing.
2. Take the time to find a functional voice teacher who can directly address your individual needs and who recognizes that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to singing. Remember, that teacher is going to be working with you and your body, so it is important to ensure that he/she is knowledgeable and trustworthy. Different genres of music require different technical and stylistic approaches. Just as many doctors specialize in specific areas of medicine, every voice teacher and vocal coach has a unique focus area and set of professional skills as well. Voice training MUST be catered to the individual and his/her personal and professional goals.
3. ALWAYS be open to new approaches, and never stop learning. Remember, no one voice teacher or vocal coach knows everything about singing. The voice community is constantly learning new information about the human voice, and it is important to stay up-to-date with the most recent research out there (or keep in touch with someone who does). Simply put, you wouldn’t go to a doctor who ONLY uses techniques from over a century ago, so I encourage you to hold voice teachers to that same standard. Ask potential teachers about their professional background and methods, and stay far away from teachers who claim to know everything about singing.