When you start singing you think „I have a voice, I can speak, this must be easy then?!“ hmm…. I hate to burst your bubble, but it may be fast at the beginning but then as you improve your progress will get slower and steadier. It may even stagnate for a while BUT there is hope and 5 simple ways you can tell that you are making progress with your singing.
Record your song at the end of your practice session. Every single time.
There is no sugar coating it, when you start out not a single person likes the sound of their own voice. Why? Because you don’t hear your own voice the way that others do. You hear approx 75% of your voice through the conduction of sound through your bones in your face. What you hear through your ears is a fraction of the sound coming out of your mouth, so of course when you hear your recording for the first, second, third, fourth time you are not going to like it.
By recording yourself every time you practice you then make it a habit which turns it into a regular part of your practice. You can then go back and look at the video the next time you go to sing and make notes of what you need to work on. You can also keep it as a progress tracker…. see where I am going with this?
Feedback is really essential when it comes to singing. Get out of your head and ask a 3rd party (like a teacher) what they think of your songs.
Every good sports person has a trainer, and every good singer has a teacher or coach. Ask them how they think your progress is going. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our own journey that we fail to see the big picture of the overall work we have achieved. By asking for help, feedback or assistance it doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing a good job, it just means you are wanting to improve and grow. It takes courage to ask for help. If you want feedback on your own singing then get in touch for an ad hoc session.
Learning a new skill takes hours of work. Learning to sing is the same. Take it slow and steady to avoid burn out.
Have you heard that one? Practice makes perfect? Well it is rubbish, utter bullshit. Deliberate, focused practice makes perfect.
We can all go through the motions of the exercises, but without the express goal of repeating the scales to improve you could sing for hours without improvement.
Just because everyone on YouTube tells you that singing is easy does not mean that it won’t take effort and dedication. Focus on steady improvement in a specific area of your singing. When you direct your practice and attention you will notice the progress but when you spread your attention to 500000 different aspects of singing you will just end up not getting better at any of them.
Let me give you an example: Your goal is that you would like to be able to sing higher. Then focus on going to the top and bottom of your range with every exercise. Make sure you spend time really stretching your voice to the extremes. Spend a good 20min of technical work with your vocal stretching. Then your body stretching, because limitation at the top and bottom of the range is a lot to do with tension in the muscles around the voice. Then move onto a song that challenges your range. See what I am getting at, the whole practice session was about singing higher and singing lower, so you focused on that one aspect of your singing.
If you need a bit of help with your breathing, though check out my take a deep breath post over here. It might just help clear up a few things for you.
When you go back and sing old repertoire you will see how much easier it has become.
Depending on what your goals are, whether it is to sing higher, louder, with more power …. ect you can always go back and sing old repertoire to see how far you have come. Did you transpose that song because it was too high 6 months ago? Try it a tone higher, hell try the original key. Did you crack on that one note last year? Go back, sing it again. What happened? How much easier did it get?
This is probably my favourite way to track progress because the proof is just so glaringly obvious. The notes will be easier, your tuning with be better, you will find suddenly „oh shit that wasn’t high at all“.
If you are only hard on yourself you are never going to see progress no matter how much you make.
The rule that I grew up with was you can learn anything if you practice for 10,000 deliberate hours. Even though this rule was debunked a couple of years ago in a new study with violinists the general consensus still remains that deliberate practice is the most important factor in improving at any instrument, singing included.
The most beautiful part about singing and creating music is that there is an audience out there for you no matter what your level, voice type, range or style.
How cool is that?!
So if you practice kindness towards yourself, and remind yourself that we all grow and change over time, you will enjoy the journey a lot more than saying „I will only be a singer when I am able to belt to a high F“. The fact of the matter is, the singing voice is a live instrument, and it can change with time, but it also has physiological limitations. You may just not be able to sound like Beyoncé on that top C, but you can hit it really well and sound like you.
Practice kindness towards your instrument and realise that when you compare your voice to other recordings of your own voice as we talked about before you will notice progress and change. However, if you compare yourself to the stars you will have no chance, and you will remain miserable and unhappy. There is only one you, and that is your unique selling point with your music.
I just only wished someone had told that to me when I was starting out with my singing. You have to enjoy the journey because it is going to be a long one.