Practice Makes the Performer, Perfect or Not
I hope your holidays were a delight, and that you’re BURSTING with ambition and drive.
January is a wonderful time to tackle new goals; for many of you, that might include amping up your singing game. If New Year’s Resolutions are taking your voice by storm, my job today is to convince you of something so crucial, you might want to consider tattooing it backwards on your forehead:
Achieving stardom (or mastery) with talent alone, is a myth.
When it comes to transforming your sweet little voice into a powerhouse with star quality, there’s only one surefire thing to do:
Practice, practice, practice, practice.
And then practice some more.
You can be born with all the “natural talent” in the world, but when it comes to going the distance and becoming a world class singer, only time in the driver’s seat will get you there.
10,000 Hours a Master
Want to know something cool? The path to mastery, be it as a singer, at chess, or in the operating room, is exactly the same: deep, dedicated practice hours will always make the difference between the novice and the professional.
And, perhaps unfortunately, we’re not talking an-hour-a-day kind of practice: it takes ANY human (at least) 10,000 hours of focussed, attentive practice at any given skill to master it.
The best surgeons in the world have spent over 10,000 hours in high-pressure operations.
Prima ballerinas start when their ballet shoes are mere inches in length, and don’t stop dancing until they’re ready to retire.
And the world’s best singers and most famous performers? You got it - a minimum of 10,000 hours belting it out in a focussed, self-aware kind of way.
To put that number in perspective, consider it this way: if you practiced one hour per day, it would take you TWENTY SEVEN YEARS to become a master. Ouf.
On that note, I should make an important distinction.
When I refer to refining your singing voice via practice, I don’t mean lettin ‘er rip in the shower. Part of the joy of being a singer is letting your voice ring out everywhere… but those minutes or hours of unfocused, fun-time singing don’t count towards your 10,000.
I know, I’m such a bummer.
If you really want to take your voice to the next level, your practice has to be concentrated training, or what’s called deep practice: time when your mind is actively engaged in what you’re doing, and you’re constantly refining your technique.
Performance as Practice
Truly serious about becoming a performer? Then fear not! Your time on stage is JUST as valuable - if not more so - to your 10,000 practice hour bank, provided you use that time to notice, analyze, and adjust your technique.
You know how some singers like to enjoy a beer or two while on stage… and then five or six more when the gig is over? Probably not the best habit to develop if you’re going to hone your skill on stage.
But if you take even the most amateur event seriously, practicing while on stage will give you an added edge. Being able to refine your technique in a studio with a vocal coach is one thing - it’s nice and cushy and safe.
Being able to self-correct and focus, deeply, on your voice while in front of a crowd? That almost counts for double.
Because whatever you can do in the shower, or while driving in your car, professional singers have to in front of thousands of people.
The Vocal Coach, aka your Practice Sensei
I’m obviously biased on this one, but want to know a secret to nailing your practice and making those hours count?
Someone with deep vocal knowledge and singing experience monitoring your every note.
Even if you just book one, one-hour lesson a week with a singing teacher, you’re massively contributing to your bank of practice hours. They’ll ensure you’re doing the work, guide you to where you need the most improvement, keep you honest, and cheer you on.
What’s more, they’ll help train your ear so that you can self-correct and benefit from solo-practice time.
In Conclusion, PRACTICE!
Nothing in this world comes for free, and hard work will always trump God-given ability. If you really want to progress with your singing, then keep singing: whether it’s on a stage, in good company, or solo in your spare bedroom, dedicate the time and focus on your craft. You’ll be a master in no time - er, in a mere 10,000 hours.