How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

Weekly Teaching Tip Feb. 25, 2013

I heard this play on words when I was a kid in 6th grade. Truth is I didn’t even know where Carnegie Hall was or what it represented. Was the question asking for road directions?… the answer later.

To practice or not to practice? In my workshops I always ask the question, ‘who in the room has a practice schedule? Generally the answer is no. Then I ask ‘how much practice do you do per week’? The answer is often a guess…’I do a few hours here and there’, or’ I sing every day’. Whilst I appreciate and acknowledge the honesty  there is something inherently wrong with these answers…they are not measurable!  The hit and miss of this approach doesn’t give any clear indication as to what has actually caused the greatest amount of improvement (if any). There is a theory that I know to be true that talks about the 10,000 hours to Mastery. That is approx 20 hours per week for 10 years and you will be a Master. This has been tested from tennis playing, soccer stars, pianists and many other activities in between. I have seen this take place as I have had the pleasure to work with some students for more than the 10 years 10,000 hour approach. For more advanced information on this subject I recommend that you read ‘The Talent Code’ by Daniel Coyle , and ‘ Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell.

So you might be saying, ‘I don’t want to be a Master I just want to get a bit better’.. I hear you. I am like that with cooking. I’m happy to progress at a slow and steady pace without getting frustrated by it. If you are fine with your singing I am happy..if not, time to step up.

Here are my sure fire tips to get you on your way..

1) Schedule it!

If you have a scheduled appointment to visit someone or see your doctor it has a far greater chance of happenning.Take out your iPhone or diary right now and write in where you are going to actually spend time developing your gift. I recommend that you commence with 2 sessions per day of no more that 10 – 15 minutes(if you are a beginner) If you are more experienced then you will be able to handle more time…

2) Have a plan.

I recommend that you warm up thoroughly, have some water handy and work firstly on familiar aspects of your singing. That might be an in ‘ between song;’ as I call it. Simply put it is a song that completes your warm up and really lets you know that you are ready to sing. Some prefer to achieve this ‘ ready state’ via more vocal exercising and that is fine as well.

3) Now that you have actually got yourself to follow through…

Practice something that is not working well!!. This is where the progress is. You know it to be true as had your parents not encouraged you to get up off the floor when you were a baby, you probably would not have learned how to walk. The more intense practise builds better skills and more myelin (read the above books) the stuff that seals in the habit…

4) Celebrate.

Ok maybe not like an Oprah audience, but I want you to congratulate yourself for following through.

Do this and your measurement and management are under control. From this position you can make other decisions about your development.

Finally (you thought I’d forgot)

How do you get to Carnegie Hall…practice, practice, practice

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