Master Vocal Technique Teacher/Coach for Singers, and Published Author

Singing Lessons and the Value of Vocal Exercises


            Voice lessons for adults are just as important as the other lessons you take to improve a particular skill. Those of you who are striving to find your real voice must come to terms with the necessity of learning how to practice vocal exercises. They are the key component to developing your voice. This aspect of the voice lessons is the critical factor when going in to strengthen the voice, fix any pitch problems, bridge the breaks that keep you from singing seamlessly throughout a phrase, and for increasing your range. This means that you will have to practice the exercises a lot. It is not easy work because it requires tenacity and the drive to never give up no matter how hard the work is; never give up trying to “get it” no matter what.

You’ll have to prioritize it. When you are taking singing lessons, it is through the vocal exercises that all of the issues you have with your voice are addressed and corrected. Unlike the techniques you learn in your voice lessons for singing songs — which take you away from all things academic and technical; this is the one aspect of the singing lessons that you must learn exactly how to practice the exercises using all the technical know-how, science, and academics given. Also unlike singing songs, the vocal exercises require that you strive for perfection. Otherwise, your cultivated bad habits will never get corrected.

            Vocal lessons for adults requires self-commitment. The most important thing to understand about vocal exercises when taking singing lessons is that this is where your foundation gets built and once you are on your way, your exercise voice will come into play when learning how to use the very different techniques I teach to help you move away from all things technical and move you into all things emotional and the story driven content of your songs. If you try to sing with the same kind of focus and extreme concentration it takes to strengthen your voice and correct all the issues when working with the vocal exercises, you will not be able to sing your songs with freedom, ease, joyously, and effortlessly. Singing lessons for adults is that opportunity that allows you to access this paradigm.

            There is something else you need to know when you are taking singing lessons. It is important to have a keyboard nearby. You don’t have to play it well, but you do need to know where all the notes are between middle C and high C and be able to pluck those notes out because it is through the practicing the vocal exercises that you learn about all the things you can and can’t do on every single note of your range. You will find out where your voice weak spots are (which set of notes need strengthening) and which set of notes are your strongest; your “sweet spot” (otherwise known as the set of notes where you sing best).

            I teach all of my voice lessons online. Because there is always a delay on any online platform, you cannot sing along with the vocal exercises while I play them. This means you will need access to a keyboard or be able to sing a’capella (sing accurately without instrumentation). Mistakes playing them are a given. (Even I, after 30+ years of teaching, still make mistakes when I play those exercises for demonstration).

            The most important thing about the keyboard is that it provides you with a visual of where every note is and which of those notes you are struggling with. Since vocal exercises are all about repetition and going from wrong way to right, you are repeatedly looking at the keys. That means when you go to sing songs and you reach a trouble spot, you can see the keyboard in your mind’s eye and have a good idea without looking at it exactly where those notes are.

            Additionally, if you are not having any problems hitting notes in vocal exercises that you suddenly find yourself having a hard time with when singing songs, you have the benefit of going to the keyboard, plucking out those notes where those troublesome notes are and literally seeing for yourself exactly where they are in relationship to what you know you can or can’t sing when executing the vocal exercises. This is how vocal lessons for adults can make a difference. There is a good chance that you will see that in your exercise voice you have no problem hitting those notes. So why is that not the case in the songs?

            It all boils down to using the consonants, not your air or the force of it, to propel the sound directly into the open vowel sounds you’ve been practicing in the vocal exercises. But the bigger culprit is you mind. It will play tricks on you. Once you know an area of your voice is coming up that you always had trouble singing when singing songs, your mind will tell you that you can’t sing that part. As soon as that happens, your old bad habits kick in and guess what?  You can’t sing those notes. Your fear told you so and your voice and body automatically reacted to that fear — which landed you where you have always landed on that note or in that area of your voice. This is how singing lessons for adults does wonders. It brings out the best in you.

            As your teacher, that is when I would have you take a look at the keyboard and the notes you were trying to sing so you can see for yourself which notes they are; which area. Chances are you will once again see that in exercises you don’t have that problem. I would then create a vocal exercise to apply to that set of notes using those exact same set of words to take you up and down through that entire area. Then I would ask you to sing that area of the song as written again. That is when you will realize you can sing those notes without the struggle you were having. That is also when you will learn just how much your mind is in control rather than you. The mind is not always your friend when you are working on your voice. Chances are it is acting as your master. You must become its master. You have to learn how to take control of it; your voice must follow you and not the other way around.

            Voice lessons; singing lessons that employ both the techniques for vocal exercises and the different set of techniques for singing songs will help you rein that mind of yours in and your voice will eventually learn to obey your commands until those commands become second nature to you. Once that happens, you will no longer be worrying about what comes next. You will be singing the way you always wanted to, and joyously so because you will have grown to love not just the sound of you voice, but also the ease with freedom with which you can now sing.