Inside the Studio: A Lesson with Kristy Bissell
Posted Monday, November 1st 2021 by Kristy Bissell
The Effort in Trying: Asparagus, Vocal Exercises, and the Growth Mindset
When we are little kids, our guardians introduce the world to us. These parental figures have the power to control what we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel; all five of our senses are tested and developed. What were you able to see around you? What music did they play or not play in the home? What foods did they encourage you try? What were the smells you were around? Did you feel safe? A lot of the time our ability for growth as an adult is extremely tied to our upbringing. It certainly doesn’t have to be this way – you just have to be aware of it and then ask yourself some challenging questions. Am I pushing myself enough? Are my efforts of trying being put to good use? Is this worth it?
When trying out new things as a child, a common saying is, “just give it a try.” Flashbacks, anyone? One of the first “just give it a try” moments for me was trying the very dreaded vegetable, asparagus. I had never had it before and my mother brought it to the dinner table as a part of our meal. The horror that bestowed itself upon me was slimy, a strange tint of green, and it smelled funny. May it forever be seared into my brain as the day I learned there are certain things we just don’t want to do. All five of my senses went off in me and said: “No! Kristy Lynn, your life is at stake here and now. Do NOT eat the asparagus!!!” Needless to say, it was not a good night for me. I proceeded to sit at the table for an hour while my parents insisted that I eat it or else… Now, although this isn’t the popular style of parenting these days… they were trying to teach me an important lesson on trying. “Just give it a try.” To this day, I don’t prefer to eat asparagus, but I take in to account that it is a very healthy vegetable. It’s not my favorite but if I had to eat it, I could. Which brings me to vocal exercises in voice lessons.
Now, I would hope that vocal exercises aren’t like asparagus for you, but, I have met students that really were very opposed to doing them in the lessons! Allow me to help with this asparagus dilemma and win you over with some benefits to doing the vocal exercises:
1. Muscle coordination
2. Strength building
3. Range building
4. Zoning in on a specific concept
5. Mindful singing
6. Extending your range
7. Exploring new options
On the other hand, I also have many students that love doing the exercises and I always get very excited when someone is down to play with sounds like that. The students that are willing to make the effort and allow the teacher to help their voice through vocal exercises are bound to have more success. There is structure and the growth will certainly happen to a certain capacity. However, I am sad to inform you that we are not magicians, and we cannot make you the singer of your dreams in just one hour. It requires time, patience, and trust. It truly is a team event to achieve the sounds you want. We need each other to accomplish your dream.
Vocal exercises are a great way to discover what you are truly capable of but the biggest hurdle for the singer is being willing to try. The art of trying… what does it mean to try? The definition is vague – make an attempt or effort to do something. Effort involved with try. How much effort did I give to my asparagus? I am pretty sure I spit it out and did NOT give it a proper try. With voice lessons – the effort in the try is everything and even more so? You have to be willing to try it multiple times. And then there is also the question of is it worth it? Are you willing to keep trying it for a week? A month? A year? Years?
So, here are my 5 rules of thought to continue your growth mindset:
1. Give it time.
2. Connect with others and ask questions.
3. Write to collect your thoughts.
4. Ask if this is helping you towards your goal
5. Heart to hearts with your teacher
I hope you go out there and give your voice the love and effort it deserves, because I assure you – it deserves it. You deserve it.
Kristy Bissell is a Voice Teacher Associate at New York Vocal Coaching, specializing in Contemporary Commercial Music styles such as Pop, Rock, Musical Theatre, and R&B. She holds a Master's of Music in Vocal Pedagogy with a focus on Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) from Shenandoah University, and a Bachelor's degree in Music Theatre with a Voice Minor from Seton Hill University.
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