Yesterday I had an awesome vocal warm up.
I took some scales, arpeggios and worked through them. Not going to get into the details now, as we’ll cover this in a future post, but the point is that it was great fun. Heck, I wasn’t even singing one of my favorite songs and it was still fun!
Process Vs Result
For a lot of activities that we claim to enjoy, we often kid ourselves; “I love exercise”, “I love my job”, etc. For some people, these statements may genuinely be true. For a lot of us, I suspect, it’s not true. What do I mean?
When we say that we love working out or sitting in an office for 8-12 hours a day, we would most certainly prefer to be doing something else. We just love the result: our in-shape body. That regular paycheck. However, we probably tolerate or dislike the process.
With singing, even the process is enjoyable! The process is the day-to-day incremental development of the voice. The exercises, vocalises, working on a piece, practicing with your band. The continual iteration of our attempts, feedback (from ourselves or voice teacher) and improvement is fun in and of itself.
Singing, Breathing and Being in the moment
When we take a look at why, I believe it relates to the relationship between singing, breathing and being totally present in the moment.
Breathing. We are constantly breathing. Air fills up our lungs, and then leaves it. All day and all night. It never stops. (Hopefully). You can never say that you are done with breathing, like finishing a workout. There is no result; only a process.
Being in the moment. A goal of meditation is to be totally present in the right here, right now. We focus on the breath so are continually drawn into the present moment. Related:– amazing post from Zenhabits.net on Breathing . You can’t say you are happy with the result of being present. It’s already in the past!
Now on to Singing. At its core, singing is Breathing + Phonation (Fancy word for making sound). Yes, there is obviously a lot more to singing, but fundamentally, this is what you are doing. Essentially, singing is a process for the singer. It is a process for the audience. Singing is enjoyed and appreciated most in the moment. When the concert is over, when the performance is finished, it’s all over. The excitement is gone. Proof: You don’t hear people say “I’m glad I got that concert done – now I can enjoy myself”. That’s why I love Singing.
Why even practicing is enjoyable
Even when you are practicing at home in your singing haven, singing is still fun. As you practice and iterate through whatever you are working on, you begin to see tangible results. You focus on a vowel, on resonance or on singing a high note. Related (LINK – how to conquer a vowel) The first time is a fail, but that’s OK because you need to fail at first to succeed. You try again; you’re a little bit closer. The third time you nail it. It feels good.
But even this cannot compare to the final part of a practice session – an actual song. You take whatever you are struggling with and then nail it in a song. That high A? Make your practice count now in the context of a real song. That difficult ‘eee’ vowel? Let’s sing it as part of a phrase. Guess what? You may fail again! That’s totally fine because you need to fail at first to succeed. (I’ve said it again cos it’s true!) A song is totally different context to just an exercise, so it’s much harder. You try again. And again. Eventually, say on the fifth time, you nail it! You can now sing a song that you previously struggled with.
Fast Forward….It’s now the next day. You warm up. Practice that difficult note or vowel. You move to the piece. This time it’s a totally different section you struggle with. Or it’s the same one again to remind you that you haven’t fully mastered it. That’s OK! You do it again. Iterate and improve until it’s second nature.
The amazing thing you will start to see is that after a while, it becomes harder to revert to the original bad habit! It became easier to do it right. You have witnessed the incredible power of practice on the brain. We can train ourselves to make a habit of solid technique.
The Big Unspoken Secret
So what happens if you are just beginning your singing journey? What happens if you feel you aren’t that great yet and your practice sessions just feel like a long, hard slog? (Related: I’m not a Natural Singer, can I become a Good Singer?)
Well, the answer is that both the novice and experienced go through the same struggle on their own levels. Yes, when you’re in the moment of practice, it’s the same for everyone. We just struggle on a different objective level.
If you’re just starting out, take solace that the practice you are doing now will become joyful and rewarding over time. It’s the laboratory of where you build and hone your vocal gift. No one has it easy from Day 1, and nobody succeeds without investing in the daily grind of focused practice.
Singing belongs to one of those precious life activities that people enjoy as they are doing it. It’s voluntary act for amateurs and a work of passion for pros. No one tries to just get it done, like the dishes or a workout! Let’s relish the moment and tap into the incredible power of being in the moment as we sing. There is no such thing as failure; just a message of what we haven’t yet mastered. If we focus on the process instead of the result, every moment of singing can be joyful.
What do you think? Do you enjoy your practice sessions as much as the author of this post? Are there some aspects of singing that you find hard to be ‘present’? Leave a comment below!Follow Me!
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