The singing voice is an amazing thing. It stays with you all of of your life and matures as you do, and around your mid-forties is at its prime. Because it is a part of us, the voice is immensely flexible, and capable of a vast array of different colours and nuances of inflection.
It has the instant ability to show and reflect our feelings keenly. Precisely because of this facility to reflect our moods, it can be adversely affected if we are tired, upset, or unhappy. A happy disposition and a positive outlook are tremendous assets in contributing towards your singing effectively.
Learning to develop your voice to its full extent takes time. A degree of courage is also needed to develop the confidence to stand up in front of an audience. Nerves need to be controlled, whether you are singing to a large or small number of people.
The singer has to come to terms with those feelings and learn how channel them positively to enhance their performance. Also the emotion of the piece has to come over to the listener, and your own experiences of life will play a vital part in your ability to interpret it, thereby making it both moving and accessible to the audience. This is of course one of the reasons so many people are affected when they hear a song delivered with a truthful, honest, and above all sincere sound.
It’s always nice to receive a positive reaction to your singing. Not only does it make you feel good about yourself, but you begin to realize that what you have within can actually bring others pleasure. With children the process has to be approached with care, and while starting to develop their voices with various exercises, one must be mindful not to strain or overload their young voices by singing too loudly, or belting!
For the first couple of lessons, work on breathing and learning how to place the various vowel sounds takes most of the time, but as soon as pupils begin understanding the theory it’s important to start them on a song.
I will usually play through several for them to hear, until we find one they like. We then begin to apply the ideas regarding technique to the song in question. As time goes on, and they become more confident, we will also work on posture, stance, presentation and interpretation.
Because it’s always a good idea to have a focus and feel that progress is being made, I usually suggest the possibility of a singing exam. This will involve pupils learning several songs and other associated aural skills such as sight reading and ear tests. It keeps lessons interesting, and them focused and challenged in a creative way. Of course “nothing succeeds like success”, and the first exam pass with a certificate to hang on the wall is a very positive incentive to further improvement and ongoing achievement.
Unlike the children I teach, adults can sometimes come with problems of poor technique due to many years of singing incorrectly – or they simply want to discover their voice, having been told as children that they either couldn’t sing or just sounded terrible. This, not surprisingly, can actually leave some people feeling psychologically quite undermined. However helping them to find their voice is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching singing. There are many reasons people want to learn to sing, and an improvement in vocal ability can help in joining local choirs, amateur opera groups or just for their own pleasure at home.