Alone time and the serious singer


My Myers-Briggs personality type is ENFJ so I’m a people person. I get a little down and weird if I’m alone for days on end. However, I save time every day for the very solitary activity of practicing. I can practice with plants or pets in the room, but never with other people.

I practice exercises and run vocal experiments daily. I call the exercises and experiments “vocalizing”. Most days I sing some repertoire also, depending on what performing dates are in the future, but I almost never practice repertoire without also vocalizing. I practice for an hour or more daily, usually broken up into two short sessions of vocalizing and then one longer session with vocalizing and repertoire.

During this alone time, I have noticed over the years that I have gotten more patient with myself. I talk to myself a lot. As time goes on, I use more humor and kindness in this self-talk. I use a recording device often, and the comments I make before and after an exercise are a mixture of helpful, funny, and ridiculous. I have made it a mostly-successful discipline to not scold myself anymore. If something is going badly, I try to listen as a patient teacher and see if I can work my way out of it. Every year I get better at this.

The difference between how my 20 year old self and my 50+ self handle things that aren’t good in the practice room has changed radically. Why not be as nice to myself as I would be to a student? Why not crack a joke? Why not allow myself to run nutty experiments and just observe what they do? Many people hate practicing because encountering shortcomings and repeating drills feels emotionally negative. If you can force a chuckle when you stink, and invite newness in, with plenty of “see what happens if”, you may actually enjoy practicing. If you enjoy it more, you do it more, and when you do it more, you sing better.

As a youngster I was driven by wanting to accomplish something or to compete. Now I am much more interested in becoming happier with how I sing. I get to own and nurture that any way I want. Daily dedicated time to concentrate on myself is essential to my well-being. Practicing points me to liberation and pleasure; I have chosen that.

 

If you enjoy this blog, consider grabbing a copy of Sane Singing: A Guide to Vocal Progress, available in print and ebook!

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