Whether you want to sing Mozart operas or Madonna pop tunes, taking music lessons is ideal for learning or developing proper voice techniques. If you’ve never taken voice lessons before, check out these tips for preparing for your first lesson, as well as five vocal warm-ups that you should never skip.
Picking the Right Setting for Music Lessons
As you look for voice lessons in Austin, make sure you choose a studio with times and locations that work for you. For example, if you’re a student, you probably need lessons after the school day ends or on the weekends; if you’re retired, your schedule is more flexible. Some schools have multiple branches and online options, such as Lonestar School of Music, while others can only operate at one location. Double-check all the meeting choices before signing a contract or paying for your first lesson.
You should also consider what kind of lessons your school specializes in. For example, if you’re interested in basic voice lessons, a studio that trains vocalists to perform operas is probably not your best bet. Look for schools that emphasize holistic training and are willing to work with your current abilities.
Warming Up for Music Lessons
When you’re practicing at home, preparing for a lesson, or heading to a concert, it may be tempting to dive into your music. If you don’t warm up properly, though, you’re going to have a hard time hitting notes at the extreme ends of your range. You could also damage your vocal cords. Avoid these unpleasant outcomes by incorporating these five popular warm-ups into your pre-lesson routine.
Many people associate buzzing with brass instruments, which rely on the vibrations of performers’ lips against their mouthpieces to produce music. Buzzing is an excellent way for vocalists to warm up for their music lessons, too. Press your lips together and force air through them without letting them separate. If you do it correctly, you should produce a buzzing sound.
Buzzing helps your lips loosen up, making it easier to enunciate as you sing. It also gets your breath flowing because your lungs must work harder to force air through your vibrating lips. Just be considerate of others; if you’re not a pro, unintentional spitting often accompanies buzzing.
2. Yawning and Sighing
Now that your lips are warmed up for your voice lessons, it’s time to think about the inside of your body. For this exercise, yawn as widely as possible and then let out all your air in a heavy sigh. Repeating this pattern encourages you to breathe from your diaphragm, which gives you the best breath support as you sing. It also takes care of tension in your shoulders so that your tone doesn’t get too weak or sharp.
3. Pretending To Be a Siren
One of the most famous warm-ups for voice lessons involves pretending to be a siren. This exercise is similar to singing major and minor scales. Instead of only singing eight notes in each scale, though, you slide from one note to the next so that you hit all the in-between notes called microtones.
Start at the lowest note you can sing and swoop up to your highest note to do your siren call. Repeat until you feel comfortable throughout your range. Make sure you’ve done a few other warm-ups before this one because it requires you to access extremely high and low notes.
4. Humming Through a Straw
If you are interested in improving your stamina and waking up your vocal cords simultaneously, try humming through a straw before your music lessons. Take any drinking straw and form a seal around it with your lips as if you were drinking from it. Then, try to hum a song. Start with something simple in a range that you’re comfortable with before humming a more advanced tune.
Humming through a straw (or, to use its technical name, semi-occluded vocal tract singing) forces your vocal cords to vibrate more quickly than usual because they don’t have unrestricted access to the air. When you remove the straw and use your entire mouth to take in oxygen, it will be much easier to sing. You’ll also be able to maximize your vocal vibrations, resulting in a richer and more stable tone.
5. Rolling Your Tongue
Finally, if you’re having trouble pronouncing all the lyrics during your voice lessons, spend some time rolling your tongue. This warm-up is essential for fast or repetitive songs. Make the same noise as you would if you were rolling the letter “r,” but sustain the roll until you need to take a breath. Not only does this warm-up wake up your tongue, but it also necessitates lots of deep breaths.
As you take more lessons, you may find warm-ups that you like more than others. You may also discover that certain warm-ups are necessary before specific types of singing. For example, singing pop music may require more siren calls because of the intense range these songs often employ. At the same time, humming through a straw may be better preparation for singing arias. Talk to your instructor about the best warm-up routine for you, and stick to it.
Handling Other Preparations for Music Lessons
Warming up is important, but when it’s time for music lessons, there are plenty of other steps you should take. For your first lesson, get plenty of sleep the night before so that your muscles are relaxed and rested. Drink lots of water throughout the day, and avoid milk and other fluids that coat your throat. Arrive a few minutes early in case you have trouble finding a parking spot, or you’re not sure where the room is.
For later lessons, bring all of your music, a water bottle, and a pencil. Make sure you’ve practiced throughout the entire week so that you and your instructor can rehearse productively.
Making the Most of Music Lessons
When you’re looking for music lessons near me, you may wonder how long it takes to see results from studying voice. The answer depends on how much experience you have and how much time you’re willing to put into your practice. Especially if you’re short on practice hours, implement these tips to make the most of your lessons.
Take Lots of Notes
Bring a pencil to each of your lessons, and don’t be afraid to write all over your music. Circle your key and time signatures, and write in the counting for rhythms you mess up. Use shorthand drawings such as a pair of glasses to remind you to read carefully or a backward arrow to help you take your time if you’re rushing. Don’t forget to use a pencil (not a pen) if your teacher shares your copy with someone else.
Whenever your teacher gives you instructions, and you’re unsure what they said, ask for clarification. Ask for definitions for musical terms or symbols that you don’t know, and request feedback if you can’t tell how a run-through went.
Look for Performance Opportunities
Doing lessons with a small group or one-on-one with your teacher is an excellent way to develop your skills and gain confidence. Consider stepping outside your comfort zone by looking for ways to perform. When you’re singing for an audience, you can’t just start over or take your time if you make a mistake; you have to accept it and move on. Similarly, singing when you’re under some pressure requires you to rely on the fundamentals you’ve built in your lessons.
Ask your teacher if they hold recitals for all the students in your studio. If you’re not comfortable singing on your own yet, look for choirs at local churches, community colleges, or arts conglomerates that you could join. You could even see if your town has any musicals coming up that need chorus members.
Listen to Others
Taking lessons helps you focus on your technique and get comfortable with your sound. If you’re serious about improving, though, it’s critical to listen to others. See if your teacher has any favorite vocalists or albums that they recommend, and ask fellow students at your school who they listen to.
Recordings on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services are great ways to dive into the different types of singing. Look for recordings from different periods of music, such as the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras; each recording will have a different quality. You can also discover new artists and composers this way.
Finally, it’s important to hear people sing in person. That way, you can observe their posture, breathing patterns, and other performance essentials that are hard to catch on a recording.
No matter how much experience you have as a vocalist, choose Lonestar School of Music if you’re looking for music lessons near you. Reach out to our team to sign up for your first session.
Getting Ready for Music Lessons With 5 Basic Vocal Warm-Ups | Lone Star School of Music – Austin, TX