Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Performance is not a vocal exercise

OK, I'm going back to my novice training in golf (bless my poor husband) to bring out yet another golf/vocal parallel: There is an important difference between vocal exercises and performance. A singer must make this distinction clear to turn a performance into a heart-moving event.

Vocal exercises, like other athletic skills training, do two things:
  1. They nurture the vocal musculature, strengthening it, warming the instrument with increased blood flow and enabling greater flexibility.
  2. They create muscle memory.

With the flexible and strong instrument at your disposal, and with muscle memory causing an automatic connection to take place between your mind/body/vocal apparatus, you're then and only then ready for a great vocal performance.

Points to ponder:

  • Don't think about technique like you do when you are trying to learn a vocal exercise correctly. The time for that is BEFORE you perform.
  • Do your vocal training exercises regularly so it's just what you do naturally when you perform.
  • Learn how to connect with the audience through the song. That should trigger all the right reflexes, if you've trained your muscle memory correctly.
  • Don't worry about being perfect!! I've found that if you just commit to communication (after you've trained your instincts), you can do things in performance even better than in a mechanical vocal exercise.

Consider this: When you are doing vocal exercises, you have to be focused on yourself and on how you're working your voice. This is not, I repeat NOT communication. When you are performing, the truly effective performance moment happens when you are delivering a message. If you scatter your mental focus with too much thought, you'll miss the ball (sorry- golf again- ask me how I know >: )

Bottom line... you have to do both: Exercise and Perform. Just keep them separate in your mind. Voice teacher Jeffrey Allen says the Italians used to suggest taking your technique onstage with you in your little finger". Meaning... that's how much awareness they gave to training when actually performing. It's a paradox that you must also practice performing... make it a regular habit to sing to someone (even a cat or dog will do).

Trust your trained voice and it will reward you with performance magic!

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  • At December 2, 2007 at 2:14 PM , Blogger LA said...

    This is a great tip. As an actress, I've learned to do any work on my character before the performance, but then I tend to get the best results if I just let all that go into my subconscious during the actual performance and kind of go by instinct. I've never thought about this principle applying to singing, though. It makes total sense. Thanks!

  • At December 11, 2007 at 12:04 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Yes, that's a great way to put it. There are a lot more techniques for acting that have parallels in singing. Here's another- I bet you would agree that it's important to respond to your acting partner in a scene dialog. Singing is also most authentic when you are communicating TO someone. Even if it's to your own heart.

    Thanks much for responding, Leigh Ann!


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