It’s a common problem for serious singers. They take lessons with an experienced teacher, who guides them into vocal balance – only to find themselves frustrated when they try to reproduce this in the practice room.
One of the key skills a voice teacher provides is the ability to be outside ears for the singer. The teacher can quickly analyze the problem and correct the singer’s imbalances.
It is much harder to hear these imbalances on your own. There are however a few ways to get yourself closer to vocal balance and to make your practice sessions effective.
Ask And Ye Shall Receive
I believe it is important to know why you have been given a particular exercise. If you don’t understand the reasons behind an exercise it will be that much harder to practice it correctly.
Make sure to ask your voice teacher why they are choosing exercises and adjustments for your voice. They should be able to provide a clear and concise answer (if not, you might want to start searching out other teachers).
Take A Picture
Your teacher has a very different experience of your voice. They must guide entirely by sound – you must guide by a strange combination of sound and physical sensation.
The sound and sensations of a properly sung note are often counterintuitive, especially in higher notes.
When your teacher has guided you into the proper spot, take a mental snapshot of the event. Be aware of how it feels and sounds and (most importantly) the adjustments you made to get there.
The more you repeat this mental exercise the greater awareness you will build of your own voice. You will also be better able to recreate proper balance on your own.
I like to record key moments of my vocal practice so I can analyze my own voice in nearly real time.
When you are unsure of how to sing a certain note, turn on your recording device. Record your attempts and listen immediately to them, while the experience is still fresh in your mind.
If I am trying different vowel adjustments on a note I will give an audible cue when I am making a change (like clapping). When I listen back I can hear the precise moment when I made the adjustment and I can also hear if the adjustment was more or less successful.
By knowing why you need to make certain adjustments, mentally recording the results and doing critical listening of your recorded voice, you can make much better use of the time between lessons.