Creating good habits as a singer is one of the keys to a successful career. Our bodies and our minds adapt to whatever we do daily; in neuroscience, this concept is known as the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand). What that means practically for you as a singer is you want to investigate what habits you currently have that affect your voice, and then check in regularly to keep yourself on track. If you can pay attention daily to your habits, you will be well on your way to creating a vocal instrument that will have longevity and stamina. Here are seven tips to consider:
1. Know how you respond to expectation.
Before you read any further, go to this link and take my quiz called “What’s My Performing Personality?” The quiz is based on the work of Gretchen Rubin, whose book Better than Before examines habit-creation in detail. She identifies four basic types of people when it comes to habits:
Upholders: Upholders are excellent at creating habits and easily meet expectations placed upon them by others.
Questioners: Questioners are perfectly happy to meet expectations that others have for them, but only if they make sense to them.
Obligers: Obligers have an easy time meeting other people’s expectations of them but may struggle with expectations that they have set for themselves.
Rebels: Rebels resist any constraints on their personal freedom, be they external or internal influences.
When you learn which of these four personalities you lean towards, you can make it much easier on yourself when it comes to incorporating new habits into your singing. Rubin’s contention is that this awareness has the potential to make you much happier and more productive as a person, and I would agree. The quiz that I’ve written is designed specifically for performers, and when you get your results, you’ll also get some advice from me on how to apply your performing personality to your career.
2. Create a practice schedule and stick to it.
Any new habit that you want to create has to live on the calendar. It’s not enough to intend to practice or hope you have time. We all tend to live in what is known as the “better future fallacy.” We say things like, “During the summer, when I have more time, I’m going to learn a bunch of new songs”, or “Once I get through the semester, I’ll start practicing again.” The truth is, there is never going to be a better time than right now to start a regular practice schedule. Make time for a minimum of three singing sessions per week—30-40 minutes is an ideal length.