Practice

Do you groan when you read or hear that word? To pursue any vocation requires practice. And yet that word can make us freeze,
can awaken memories of well meaning parents who, keen for you to learn an instrument or develop your singing tell you to – for
goodness sake, practice! Half an hour, every day, now, not later or you’re wasting hard earned money, wasting loving expectations.

The music teacher for whom you can never “get it right” – You’re not counting, you’re not concentrating, you begin to dread scales and arpeggios, can’t see the point of them, of repeating them and learning more and more of them. That fuddy-duddy teacher of yesteryear who belittled you and your love of music; you wanted to sing the songs you love, to learn the piece you heard, to move, dance, sway and tap your feet, to feel rhythms and sounds in your body. The word ‘practice’ reminds you of list of ‘shoulds’, the worst being you should be more disciplined. lt brings back memories of rules, expectations, exams, sibling rivalry and judgement. You practice to please parents and teacher but rarely to please yourself; that is condemned as play. For many the judges in childhood cast long shadows.

Making music, singing story, dancing sounds is play. It’s about feelingcand expression, creating your own world through song.

My purpose is to entertain myself first and others secondly.

J.D. Macdonald.

You want to rediscover/develop your singing voice through taking
lessons, how and in what way do you practice?

To practice is to nurture, to discover and to play

Find a space where you can be alone, where, without feeling self-conscious, you can focus on releasing the singer within. Set aside a time each day and do your best to stick to it, create a habit so that when, for a myriad of reasons, you are unable to turn up to the space, you miss it. You feel “out of sorts”. This is your time, your time of nurture. Missing it you’ll return to it.

Discover. Record your lessons, listen to the suggestions given to you by your teacher. Placing your voice, practicing scales and exercises is the best way to warm your voice. You wouldn’t go for a run without stretching your leg muscles. Scales and exercises enable you to daily reacquaint yourself with your voice, to prepare for the creative work, to find the precision required to interpret the music as you feel it in your heart. There’ll be days when your voice feels heavy, when it
seems to do the opposite of what you ask of it, days when everything flows, when singing gives you a sense of freedom and joy. Be patient. vigilant but not critical. Stay present, try not to allow your mind to wander off into memories of yesterday or plans for tomorrow, ask yourself – what do I want from my practice today? Don’t allow the “judges” to hover over your shoulder. The judges are merely negative thoughts; they belong in negative space not with you. Do
your teacher/s suggestions work for you? Do you feel your voice is “connected” and supported? When you’ve completed your exercises
– what-ever they may be – does your voice feel stretched and
warmed? If it does, turn to the song both you and your teacher have chosen, to the creative work of interpretation. if it doesn’t, discuss your concerns at your next lesson. The exercises, like bar work for the dancer, should enable you to focus on technical challenges in the song, to have sufficient knowledge to find solutions.

Play. We sing, doodle songs when we’re happy and sometimes when sad. Sing the songs you love be they yours or someone else’s, be filled with wonder for the music, the lyrics and your ability to relate and experience your emotions through song; to, in which-ever genre, have annulled your ego through practice to interpret the wishes of the composer/song-writer.