Improve your singing in 2019 by setting clear, achievable voice development goals. Top vocal coach Joshua Alamu explains how.
Get a clear picture of what you are aiming for with your vocal style by writing a list. This can be as extensive as you see fit; the aim is to get a clear sense of direction about what you want to see and hear within your own voice. Write it down so that it serves as a blueprint for you and your vocal coach.
Ask yourself: What do I want my voice to be able to do? How high do I want to be able to sing? What stylistic nuances/sounds can I explore? Who are the artists that I like or sound like? How can I develop more musicality to complement my technical ability? What styles of music can I draw inspiration from? What kind of teacher do I need?
Singing style develops with time, experience and a whole lot of listening. Be curious about different genres of music and pay attention to the vocal delivery. Make notes about what makes each vocal approach different. To broaden your intuitive vocal expression capabilities, you need to be open to the unusual, the weird and even the “wrong or bad” sounds that our voices can make. Don’t just listen to the kind of music that appeals to you.
Vocal coaches are always banging on about practice from a technique point of view, but it also helps you develop your vocal nuances. These are the subtle shades of variation and expression that a voice can produce. Practice all the weird and wonderful “wrong and bad” sounds and vocal colours that you have been listening to. Spend time mimicking and imitating them for the purpose of learning. Embrace making mistakes as you explore. Work with a good vocal coach to develop this safely and with consistency. Once you have explored the various sounds, work on the aesthetic quality of the sounds that you are exploring. This is where you begin to develop stylistic skills and start to cross over into vocal mastery. Work on exercise routines that increase range, power and improvisational ability and explore the plethora of vocal qualities that your voice can make.
4) Reinvent songs
Have fun with existing songs. Modify the melody, and throw in some studied improvisation and a few licks or riffs. Add rougher nuances where it was smooth or smooth nuances where it was rough – let your imagination run wild. Explore various onsets and offsets, phrasing, dynamics, improvisation, breath, diction and accents. Record these vocal experiments and decide what you want to keep or place aside for another set of vocal ideas.
Set goals that involve you going out there and performing. This helps to build confidence in your work and to see how people react to what you do. It also gives you the opportunity to put what you have been working so hard to achieve into a real-life context. People need to hear you. It might be scary at first but becomes very enlightening and rewarding after some trial and error.
6) Assess and re-assess
Review your short, mid and long-term goals regularly. When considering all this information think about how you are going to apply it. Develop a good structure and be accountable to someone. Find someone whom you trust and let them give you some advice on how things can improve or feedback on what they enjoyed from your performance.