Repetition is the Mother of Skill

Weekly Teaching Tip – Sep. 15, 2014
by Leigh McRae

Never a truer statement was made or more applicable with regards to vocal training and development. Today there are a myriad of ideas around about voice development, many of them not based in experience or science. The other day I watched a guy on the Internet espousing that in order to sing Opera you just have to make a sound like Kermit the frog…enough said.

On a regular basis I talk about the 4 Steps to Mastery. This approach can be applied to anything you want to improve in your life…

  • Discipline
  • Wisdom
  • Unconditional Love
  • Surrender

In this article I will deal with the first one only, discipline.

It is my experience both as a teacher and performer that if you don’t get the first one, then the rest are a complete waste of time.

As teachers we must develop and maintain our discipline. On occasions the 10th lesson of the day can feel almost the same as the 1st insofar as applying identical or similar exercises, finding yourself repeating the same description of how the voice works, improvising with words in order to communicate effectively and so on. Add to this that if you have long days your energy might not be where it needs to be and if you are not careful you can start looking at the clock and become impatient. There are days where we wonder if we’ve actually achieved anything and others where it seems like every student just ‘got it’!

It was mentioned in last weeks Teaching Tip about what I have referred to for many years as the ‘friendly’ vowel. This can take a while to establish, however when a student experiences the new physical sensation of getting through the range with greater ease and power utilizing one or two vowel sounds that really work, you now have something to grab hold of and continue. This becomes the ‘balance point’ that brings you and the student into a much closer understanding of the work that you are developing. I implore you to get to this point ASAP. This is where your discipline as a teacher must hold steady. It can at times be tedious, boring and a bit like watching grass grow, however this is where the rubber meets the road. I do suggest taking a small break for you and the student during these kinds of sessions, have a glass of water (maybe a bit of chit chat about the Kardashians) but get back to the work immediately whilst the neural pathways are receptive. As always make sure that the student understands precisely what you want them to continue with when they leave your studio by way of a recording that they can review. We all know the potential problem of the student going home and doing the wrong thing (or nothing at all for that matter) and then having to repeat the process seemingly from scratch.

For those of you that don’t have a methodology to get to this, please get hold of Dean’s book or contact me and I will send you an excerpt from my Vocal Mastery program. Please contact me personally (don’t order through the website) if you would like to purchase it and I will discount it for you, although that is not the purpose of this article.

One way or another do this and your teaching will take on an entirely new vista. I have been seeing some extraordinary results of late by adhering even more to this approach.

Forward and upward my friends.

Till next time, Leigh McRae

(Not even remotely cranky this time)

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