Want To Be a Great Singer? 5 Organisational Skills You Need
It's easy to get bogged down in technique when you're learning how to be a better singer.
But what good is vowel modification or register overtones when you can't seem to find time to practice, and you can't stick to a routine and schedule?
I'm about to share 5 Organisational Skills You Need if you want to become a seriously great singer - and I'm not just talking about scheduling time in your calendar to practice each day, I'm talking about within your actual practice routing and in your physical approach to singing - if you're just practicing scales without learning to apply something you've developed from all that practice, then you my friend need these 5 core organisational skills that every great singer needs to learn.
#1 - Time Management
Time management is a critical part of reaching your goals. It might not be super exciting to book 15 minutes a day into your calendar to warm up with lip trills - but for me, it's been a habit for the last decade that I've actually come to enjoy.
The REASON that I enjoy my little 15 minutes of trill each day is because it's a functional part of my ability to sing well - as I focus on connection, fluidity, freedom and form with a lip trill, I can almost feel my voice moving into position and 'building the foundation' that I need to sing the way that I enjoy.
For me personally, separating my routine into the base elements of breathing and connection using lip trills first with no other exercises or sounds has been a life changing experience, and the efficiency of my warmup routine and time manage skills have improved out of sight just by putting a few minutes aside to go through a few trills without overthinking things or trying to rush.
Time management as a singer is an incredibly critical skill for many other reasons, not just the obvious like your practice schedule.
How long does it take to get to the gig? Are you going to practice before you leave, or at the venue? Is there a break between sets - and do you need a cooldown period or some more warmups for your second set?
And what about studio time booked to record vocals? Do you have harmonies written already? What order are you going to sing the songs - and again, do you need a cooldown period, warmups or time to troubleshoot any issues between songs? I hate to say it - but we're not all in a position to spend months and months of the year living in a studio like Metallica do when they make a record; you've got to be on point, you have to be ready, and you really need to nail it in the first few goes.
Being a great singer is about more than just awesome technique and a killer voice - time management is actually one of the most critical skills you need to learn to be a powerhouse, professional singer.
#2 - Application
We're heading back to the technical side of things again with this one.
"An idea can only become reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements"
Again, what's the point of practicing vowel modification if you don't know how to use it in a song? Organising your vocal technique into a set of actionable steps is intrinsic to a professional approach.
I like to call this Practical Application - and it's an important step in the process of not only building a great voice, but also one of the most important steps in becoming a super consistent singer that nails it every single time you step up to the microphone.
My favourite way of developing practical application is to use a set of 'reference songs' throughout my warmup to test how well I'm applying/work on applying each technique that I'm developing. Starting with something super easy, I just focus on connection, freedom and resonance. As I move forward in my warmup routine I move onto more and more challenging songs - returning to any techniques and exercises I feel aren't being applied in the right way - and before I know it, I'm wailing in the 5th octave like it's a piece of cake.
Practical application really is one of the most important skills you're going to need as a great singer. Developing a step-by-step approach to warming up and then singing actual songs is the key to application of great technique.
#3 - Chunking
Chunking is actually a term I learned as a guitarist - basically, the brain can't process multiple pieces of information at the same moment quickly/very efficiently. For example, if you're shredding along a scale at breakneck speed, your brain isn't actually recalling every single note that you need to play like "note 1-note 2-note 3-note 4", it's really recalling patterns "1234-1234-1234" as chunks of stored information, hence the funny name chunking.
Singing is much the same in many ways. For example, I couldn't tell you every single note I'm singing in a vocal line like "A4 on the word Love, C5 on the word Me, B4 on the word Tender" - I'm really recalling the vocal line as a learned 'chunk' of information, the lyrics to the song as a 'chunk' of information and any stylistic choices too.
This is also super helpful in your warmup and development routine - rather than agonising about each sound, each note, each technique, you just need to learn each exercise as a 'chunk' of information, then the subsequent steps of "Support, balanced onset, vowel overtone, register" as another chunk. With this simple approach to recalling information, you will get better and better each day instead of starting fresh like you're learning to ride a bike for the first time every time you practice singing.
I could list pages of ways that chunking is helpful in your development as a singer - lyrics, melodies, phrases, style choices, vowel modifications and so forth. By learning to 'chunk' the information you're learning in singing lessons, vocal courses and in your vocal routine - you'll make solid chunks of progress along the way much faster than if you're trying to remember, apply and process too much all at once.
#4 - Review, Reflect and Reference
I'm often asked "but how do I know I'm doing it correctly?", and the answer is in your ability to Review, Reflect and Reference.
I mentioned reference songs a little earlier up the page, but review and reference is really an honest reflection of how it felt to perform a line and ultimately - how good it sounds.
Self review and reflection is one of the fastest ways to improve any skill, in particular singing. Many singers often think that "close enough is good enough", but in essence they're not being honest in their reflection of their performance. That dodgy onset, the pitchiness, the odd squeak - within the frame of a long vocal line, these little flubs might not seem like a big deal; but if you're cutting corners and not being honest with yourself in self reflection, then you're going to make these mistakes again and again and again.
Review, Reflect and Reference my friends.
#5 - Routine
We've already spoken about time management and many other important organisational skills that are going to help you progress as a singer much faster than if you were to approach it in a haphazard and chaotic way - but what about a specific routine?
What is the best singing routine out there?
Obviously, with over a decade of experience as a professional voice coach myself, I have a wealth of experience in effective training routines to build a great singing voice, and while I'm not going to tell you "this method, that method" is better or worse, I will tell you the #1 most important aspect of your vocal routine:
I know, it's not a fancy buzz word or some crazy technique taught to me by monks in the mountains of Italy - but it's the absolute truth.
When it comes to great singing, Foundation is king.
Want to develop a rock solid foundation for building a solid and practical vocal routine? Check out The Four Vocal Fundamentals in this free tutorial video:
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