The Top 5 Mistakes Advanced Singers Make - Part 1
This post is the first out of two - Part 2 lives here!
This article is not meant to embarrass you if you're currently having a WHOOPS moment with any of the below, I promise. In fact, I've made every single one of these mistakes myself. It's really easy to do!
I wanted to write this because I see far too many intermediate/advanced singers who leave my studio feeling both elated and angry.
Not because I've deliberately confused them emotionally but because we make an adjustment to any of the "mistakes" I mention in this post and then magic happens.
They're elated because they can now stop beating themselves up and get to work on using and sharing their voices without frustration. But angry because they wish they'd known the information years ago.
So let's get started.
#1: THINKING A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TENSION IS OKAY AND IN FACT NORMAL
I used to sing with a certain amount of tension day in and day out and just assumed that my throat SHOULD be a little tight when I belted.
That my abdominal muscles NEEDED to grip inwards to help me jump up to higher notes.
That my head voice wasn't SUPPOSED TO feel as relaxed as my chest voice.
No siree Bob.
Please don't sell yourself short. Singing should be effortless from the neck up and in your torso should feel a little engaged but not tight or gripping. Let's explain that second part in the next point...
#2: SUPPORTING INCORRECTLY
Hands up if the words "sing from the diaphragm" have been thrown at you more times than you can count?
Hands up if you'd struggle to explain exactly how you support your voice or what it feels like?
Hands up if you notice an increase in body tension when you try to project with more strength?
If you're anything like Past Me, you'll have nodded to at least one of the above. Past Kim would've agreed with all three.
How to sing from the body, sing without throat strain or properly support the voice was one of the most confusing parts of my technical training.
I thought I had it sussed. I used to suck my abdominal muscles in as tight as I could (which I believed was "properly supporting") and wonder why my sound wasn't amplifying. I was trying so hard and yet I still felt like I was pushing from my throat.
I would lose my voice if I performed for a number of hours. My sound was okay but my stamina was not.
My confidence took a fair hit when time after time, show after show, gig after gig, my voice would start to give out before the end.
If you're in the same boat, the first thing I want to assure you is YOU'RE NOT STUPID.
It may have just been explained to you by a teacher in a way that didn't click with you or wasn't specific enough about how it should feel.
If you think you might want a little more clarity around support and an exercise to help you investigate how it should feel, please check out my video here.
#3: NOT WORKING ON THE MOST IMPORTANT BODY PART OF ALL
The number #1 question I get asked by singers is - How do I feel more confident?
Followed by - Why can't I sing in front of people? And another popular candidate is - Why do I sound different in a lesson vs at home vs on stage?
All of these questions come back to the way you think and feel about yourself.
One of the reasons I write a lot about the emotions and mindset behind singing is that it has a HUGE IMPACT on the way we learn and the way we sound.
I know not everyone wants to dive down the rabbit hole and ask themselves questions about why they don't feel good enough or what they're afraid of, but if you don't - you're not going to get far.
Roadblocks like perfectionism, comparison, dealing with criticism, competition and self doubt can hold you back just as much as poor technique. And worse still? They can MESS WITH YOUR TECHNIQUE.
If you've ever practiced your little heart out, got a song as close to perfect as you can get and then gone on stage and it all fell apart - you'll know what I mean.
If we're battling the demons in our head, we can't be present in our bodies OR tell an emotional story with our voice to connect with an audience.
Sound like something you might want to work on? Feel free to head back to the blog and check out a bunch of other articles over there. Talking mindset is kinda my favourite thing (you know, apart from whiskers on kittens).