I start every voice lesson with a brief check-in, “How was your practice? What were you noticing about your voice and speech this week,” that sort of thing. As we progress further into the training, it’s not uncommon for students to report feeling overwhelmed as they try to apply everything they’re learning in real life situations. That’s predictable. In voice training, you’re going to cover new skills much faster than your body can integrate them. Some of the techniques may require weeks or even months of practice before you master them well enough to use in conversation. So it can feel like all this new stuff is piling up on you, and that can be discouraging.

The solution is simple. You know what they say about a journey of a thousand miles; you take it one step at time. That’s true for any long-term project like voice training. The basic principles are pretty simple, but the list of details that need your attention can become rather daunting. Don’t hold yourself responsible for everything at once. Yes, take your lessons, learn new things and do your whole practice routinely. But, out in the real world, you can’t focus on everything. Out of all the things you cover during voice training, you need to identify one or two things that are most important for you, right now, at this stage of your training. You need a priority list. If you walk into a meeting or interview and try to be conscious, and apply, everything you’ve learned, it’s going to get ugly very quickly. You’ll feel distracted, overwhelmed and nothing will go well.

When you’re clear about one thing you’re going to apply, you’ll feel focused, in control and you might even notice some benefit from it. How do you identify your high-priority skills? If you just started voice training it might be something you learned in your first lesson. It could be something your teacher seems to correct on a regular basis or something that feels really good to you. As you progress, you’ll get a better sense of your own unique areas needing development. It might be unexpected. You may decide you need to focus on breathing throughout the day but instead you find yourself being very conscious of your posture.

Notice, and be responsive, when certain skills seem to take precedence without your intention. Sometimes you choose the practice and sometimes the practice chooses you. So, clarify your short list. By the end of lesson number two, you will have already covered more things than any person can possibly keep track of at any given moment. Know what are the one or two things that are most important for you at this stage of your training. Three months from now, your short list will be different. Six months from now you’ll probably be focused on other skills. But at any given point, know what’s important for you to reinforce, now, whenever it comes to your attention, and that has to be just one or two things.

The rest of it can wait. So give yourself a break and focus on one thing at a time. Let me know what specific vocal skills are on your short list at the moment. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.

Voice Training: Focus on One Thing

The principles that govern voice training aren’t complicated, and the exercises involved aren’t difficult, but the list of details that need to be addressed is extensive. If you hold yourself responsible for monitoring everything at once, you’ll be overwhelmed before you finish your first month of lessons. Learning how to clarify your short list is a key strategy for successfully achieving your objectives in voice training.