Does this sound like you?…
“I’ve been singing along with the voice exercises, and I can do them and it’s all good, but I just feel that I don’t GET it. I don’t see how doing these scale-based and word-based exercises (ya, ha, ee, etc) will get me to where I want to be. I feel like I’m waiting for some sort of explanation as to what this is meant to achieve […] So… why did I do what I just did? And what am I supposed to do now?”
Yes, there’s a big difference between doing vocal exercises, and actually singing a song.
Think about learning to ride a bike with training wheels.
The training wheels kept you upright. They were a natural correction device, bringing you back in line whenever you tipped too far. And the more you rode, the better you learned to ride, and the less you needed the training wheels.
In the same way, voice exercises make singing easier by encouraging you to sing correctly. They keep you on a narrow path. They help you to sing correctly, so you can let your vocal cords and vocal muscles form memory of what that feels like.
But, back to the bike analogy: You weren’t just mindlessly riding along, logging time on the bike. You were observing, focusing, experimenting. You were trying to ride “for real” – little by little, slowly. You can do this, too, with voice.
You can transition from singing with training wheels, to singing “for real”.
1) Match up a song where you’re having some sort of issue, to a vocal exercise that deals with that issue. For example, if you are having trouble getting powerful high notes, try “mum mum mum” on an ascending scale to keep your larynx from rising; or try “meow meow meow” on an ascending scale to find your pharyngeal / mask resonance. (The selection of which voice exercise addresses a particular issue is where a voice teacher can really help.)
2) Work on the singing exercise until you’re doing it right. Notice how it feels in your body.
3) Sing the song using the syllable(s) from the singing exercise, instead of the lyrics of the song. Just sing “nay nay nay” or “mum mum mum” or whatever the vocal exercise tells you to do. Focus on making the song feel like the vocal exercise felt.
4) Take one word or syllable of the song, and change the vocal exercise to use that syllable or word. See if you can still do the vocal exercise.
5) Sing a line of the song now, keeping in mind how it should feel and sound. Take your time.
6) Finally work up to doing the entire song using what you learned.
(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn
Adrienne Osborn is a vocalist and performance coach based in Colorado. For more free articles and tips, visit https://PerformanceHigh.net.