All you should know about vocal practicing

How soon in my training program can I expect to sing high notes easily?

Immediately, since in our approach there is no strain involved in the production of tone anywhere in one's range. You must move quickly into the extreme ranges to ensure that you don't get locked in to any one part of your range.

What about teachers who say you should build your middle range before you try to extend it up or down?

That is a very popular, yet self-defeating philosophy. Singing in just the middle of your range keeps you anchored to your chest voice, with a slightly lighter approach maybe, but giving you no concept of how to get into you head voice. You must expose the „break“ area (the most critical passage area in your voice) right away. Then, once you've established that it exists, you must proceed to eliminate it. This business of working on your middle range first is nonsense. With our speech-level approach to vocal technique, there is no inordinate pressure either up or down one's range. All your tones should be easily produced, and you should begin training your voice with that in mind right from the start.

What is a good dynamic level to practice?

Mezzo forte (medium loud) at the loudest. However, you must never forget why you practice exercises. You do so to set up the correct balance between your exhaled air and your vocal cords, allowing you to sing at a speech level, and to then have your neuromuscular system live with that balance. As far as volume goes, you should only sing as loudly as you are able to maintain your balance with a steady, normal vibrato. The intensity, or loudness, of that tone will come once the muscular coordination to produce pitches freely is established.

There doesn't seem to be a great deal of variation in the types of exercises that you use, compared to other books that contain vocal exercises. How do you explain this?

Who's to know if you are doing the other exercises with the proper balance in your voice? If just scales were all it took to establish a balanced voice, you wouldn't need a voice teacher. You could just sing scales all day.

The important thing isn't what you sing when you exercise, it's how you sing it. An exercise should help you connect your voice throughout your range – to negotiate the passage areas. Almost any exercise can be used, if you keep your voice balanced.

Exercises that require you to sing pure vowels before you have developed the coordination to sing them correctly, do absolutely nothing to condition your larynx to function independently from your outer muscles. As soon as you sense you are going to have trouble singing a note, your neuromuscular system activates those muscles, to try to make that note beautiful, or to somehow fix it.

Of course, you may be able to temporarily muscle your tone, but all you are really doing is reinforcing the same bad habits that got your voice into the strained condition it was previously in. You will have done nothing to train your voice. Your larynx should already exhibit a good deal of independence from your outer muscles before you begin to use pure vowel sounds. Otherwise, you will just „grip“ and „squeeze“ with your outer muscles as you sing higher.

Should I practice agility and velocity exercises?

Yes, but only when they can be done accurately with balanced tone production. It doesn't do you any good to plow through an exercise at a fast speed. Exercises should not be done quickly until you are able to sing each note clearly at a moderate speed, at your speech level. Otherwise, you only touch the notes so briefly that strained production is not detected.

How much should I practice?

You should practice as much as you perform, even more. They are not the same thing. Performance is the culmination of your vocal conditioning to meet the artistic demands you place on your voice for the purpose of communicating and projecting ideas and emotional experiences to your listener. Regular vocal practice keeps your voice aligned for efficient coordination, so that any temporary diversion from good technique can be recognized easily and corrected quickly.

When should I not practice singing?

Whenever you are indisposed with such things as a head cold, fatigue, etc., that could interfere with the physical sensations you use to judge your vocal coordination.

How often should I have a voice lesson?

That depends upon your ability and the demands of the particular music you are singing. A professional opera singer, for example, may have his or her technique checked by a teacher once or twice a week. For a beginner, though, or someone learning correct technique for the first time, I would say a minimum of two lessons a week, three days apart to start. Such a schedule should continue until the singer begins to grasp the fundamentals of the new technique. Depending upon the teacher and the student, this can take as little as one or two lessons.

A teacher shouldn't lead you by the hand every day unless you are both „crashing“ on certain problems that need to be solved quickly because of professional commitments. Preferably, you should have time alone to make mistakes and work them out for yourself. Eventually you can wean yourself from your teacher.

You should only study regularly with a teacher until you are able to apply your technique to your songs. Then, all you need is an occasional check-up. Another pair of ears can be very valuable.