The biggest complaint voice teachers give regarding students is their absolute refusal to open their mouth to sing. It sounds strange, but many beginning vocalists share this bad habit. You would think once they made a decision they wanted to sing, opening their mouth to achieve success would come naturally. But that’s often not the case. There are a few reasons for this:
- Fear of rejection – Artists tend to be dealing with this all throughout their artistic journey. How it is managed will define the artist’s career. A good teacher encourages the student or performer not to ignore the fears, but to accept that they are there and work to overcome them.
- Copying the bad habits of their favorite star – This is a big one. To some, the fact that their favorite star is a success means they’re doing something right. But often overlooked is the fact that with stars you are seeing them at the height of their artistic journey. You see what they WANT you to see. It is only when “Breaking News” comes out revealing medical or other issues that you see the other side of things.
- They listen to the “INSIDE THEIR HEAD” voice and think everyone else hears that voice too. Students are often amazed at the difference in the sound of their voice when on tape. The same reaction happens when they are singing in front of someone. They may believe they are projecting loud enough for the world to hear, but often this is not true.
- They learn bad vocal mechanics – Yep, this should be number one. It is a misconception that singing comes “naturally”. There are a lot of events that must take place to successfully sing. True, sometimes we see people who are naturally gifted, but good mechanics can yield more good singers than you might suspect.
The relationship between the teacher and a student who has any of the above issues must be one of trust. Establishing that trust early can be done by listening to the student sing, watching how they pronounce words or execute scales and showing them the proper way to do it. Visual techniques work best. For example if a student sings an “ah” with the mouth only open wide enough for a cheerio to slip through, imitate their note exactly how they delivered it and then show them the correct way to perform it. Ask the student which one sounds better to them. Almost 100% of the time, they pick the version where the mouth is open. This will spark something in the student and bond of trust is formed.
DROP THAT JAW…
Once a vocal teacher has developed that bond of trust with the student, success in vocal mechanics instruction can be achieved. For the serious student, warm up exercises will usually be done correctly in front of the teacher. However, when working on an actual song, old habits will creep back in and the mouth will begin to close again. As teachers, the constant reminder of “drop your jaw” and “enunciate” becomes like a mantra to the student, but if they are serious about their craft, both the student and the teacher will notice a dramatic difference. These positive habits will lead to the student having a healthy voice and hopefully a good, long career.
FIND A TEACHER!
There are lots of online videos that can help tutor aspiring vocalists on how to sing correctly, BUT a word of caution here: While these videos may give good information, developing good mechanics works best when one is working closely with a teacher familiar with THAT vocalist’s own unique situation. After working one on one with a good teacher, vocal mechanics will become second nature and something the vocalist no long has to think about. Investing time and money early in one’s career saves a myriad of bad habits from forming AND will keep the vocalist from spending a lot more money later trying to fix a deeply rooted problem.
The most important thing to remember is you have a voice and the world should hear it! So the next time you want to sing a song or take a vocal lesson, make a note to yourself with a big smiley face by it: OPEN YOUR MOUTH TO SING!
Want to learn how to sing correctly? Let Prodigy School of the Arts help you develop your skills.