Here are some tips for those who are new to taking voice lessons and good reminders for veterans. Spending money on voice lessons is an investment in yourself. This will help you to maximize your investment!
1. Think about goals you might have for singing and performing. Share those goals with your teacher. For example, you might share technical issues you notice already with your voice and body and what you would like to change & improve with your voice. Other information you should share is the style of singing you like, specific songs you enjoy, and what your ultimate performance goals are. This will help your teacher in guiding your lessons.
2. Bring your music to every lesson.
3. Keep your music in a binder. (Try hole punching and taping music back to back.)
4. Bring a recording device and record all lessons.
5. Listen to your recorded lessons and write entries in your listening journal. This is a great way to reinforce the information and process what you’ve learned. It’s hard to process all of what is happening during the lesson, in the moment.
How does this work?
Listen to the recording of your lesson all the way through, and as you're listening, take notes.
What to include?
Include the Vocal Exercises/Warm-ups (written out in a way that works for you), the coaching/feedback given on vocal exercises and your songs as well as your general observations and insights. It’s a great resource for you to use as you practice, but also later during times where you are not studying regularly.
6. Practice at least 30 minutes-1 hour a day (4-5x a week). This includes all means of preparation, like speaking through your text, researching your song, researching the composers, memorizing, etc as well as warming up and singing through songs. You’ll notice noticeable difference in your singing with regular practice!
7. Eat before your lessons. Don’t come hungry; you need energy.
8. Get sleep the night before (ie: 8 hours) and make sure you’ve been awake for at least several hours before your lesson. Sleepy bodies are not conducive to singing.
9. Get there early. Arrive several minutes early before the start of your lesson so you are ready to go and on time. Also you don’t want to feel stressed out at the beginning of your lesson. Give yourself time to get centered before you enter the studio.
10. BRING WATER. It’s important to keep your chords hydrated and it also helps to clear excess mucous off your chords.
11. Be open. Give yourself permission to try. Step out of your comfort zone. You may be asked to do some silly things like imagining you head is inside out. Go with it. Go for it. Who knows, it may be JUST the thing. PLAY.
12. Get ready to go back to the basics. Be prepared for simple, redundant, boring, basic work. The basics are your friend. This is how to get better. Tip: When you’re warming up, be a technician, not a performer. It’s not about making perfect, beautiful, emotion-filled sounds. Take the emotion out of it and think like a technician. Save the emotion and feeling for your song.
13. Go with where your voice is that day. Don’t push it if it’s not there. Remember you are the only one who truly knows what is going on with your voice. If something doesn’t feel right, stop, take a break, and reevaluate.
14. Talk to your teacher. This is a two way street. Let him or her know what you are experiencing. Are you uncomfortable? Something not making sense? Speak up. As you’re singing, check in with your body. Are you holding tension somewhere? Can you do something to ease the tension or find release? Let your teacher know when you notice discomfort or tightness. Any feedback you can give is going to deepen the relationship and shed more light on the issues at hand.