Ah, the American shower…. that waterfall of acoustic distraction with a hard tile reverb chamber that sends harmonics into a swirling tornado of ambiguity, neutralizing the need for correct pitch and bringing every serious shower singer front and center in front of Adam, Blake or Simon with the winning performance. And we get clean to boot!
A great start and a great finish to a long hard day. But wait – put down the hairbrush microphone and tell me again – did you just say you had a good practice? HELLO? Sorry, man – singing in the shower is NOT practicing!
Oh, it’s fun, and sure, it’s better than NOT singing in the shower (maybe) but… practice? No, I don’t think so, and neither should you. Practice means being focused; practice is warming up your voice properly; practice is using a track or instrument to keep you in the “pocket”; practice is reviewing runs or riffs and making sure they are being sung accurately; practice is singing “correctly” to the high notes, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re ready to perform those in public yet.
They used to call it “woodshedding”. You went out back to the woodshed and you didn’t come back until you’d really accomplished something that was going to make you better at your craft.
As a vocalist you’re not that different from an athlete; you are coordinating muscles and learning the tricks of the game to accomplish a goal. Just as an athlete does warm ups, calisthenics, cardio and prepares mentally for game day, a singer does warm ups or vocal “stretches”, takes care of their voice and goes over phrasing, presentation, riffs and runs, stylizing: everything that the art demands.
Too many singers nowadays think that you have to be “born with it”, and that hard work is not part of the equation. Well hey, your neighbor is singing in the shower too; why don’t they have a major record deal? The fact is, I’ve seen it time and again, where the “naturals” are passed up by the workers, and often burn out because they can’t get used to having to work hard to keep up.
Solution: Set aside time for a great practice, and get all your tools around you. Use a prerecorded program to work out with; one made by your teacher for you, or one made by me available at www.voicetraining.com.
Stand or sit up tall, have a glass of water handy, and thoroughly work your voice through the routine, paying attention to how your throat feels. Don’t rush or push your voice too soon; pace yourself! When you’re ready (say, 20 minutes), take a 5 minute break and then prepare your tracks or pick up your instrument and get ready to sing.
If you’re learning a song and don’t really know it yet, don’t sing all out. If you’re learning from sheet music, keep your voice light, or “marked”, like a hum, until you truly know the song and have even memorized the words. If you’re learning from YouTube or a CD, then LISTEN while following the words.
Take in the subtle nuances of the singer’s voice and decide what you like and what you don’t. Decide what you might want to do to make the song your own. Then you can sing along with a “marked” voice also. When you truly feel like you know the song thoroughly, even if you’re still reading the words, you can try it at normal volume and start the real craft of shaping the song.
When you get in the habit of practicing this way, you’ll realize you’re not really working hard at all, but actually “working smart” and getting the job done more efficiently! It’s fun! It’s what you do!
By the way, if you would like to roll up your sleeves and REALLY work your voice in a way that will get you the high notes without straining, go to http://www.voicetraining.com and get the Ultimate Voice Training for Singers course.
The Vocal Troubleshooter™