New Year's Resolution Ideas for Singers: Creating Singing Goals
Posted Saturday, January 13th 2024 by Tim Rosser
How do you create singing goals that are measurable and helpful for improvement? As we think about our New Year Resolutions, I will guide you through 6 measurable singing goals you can make for vocal growth!
January is here and I’m finding myself checking in on where I want to steer the ship in the new year - taking a little time to identify where I want to see growth.
It’s got me thinking about singing goals. What are your singing goals? When I ask new students this question, most say they want higher notes. I suspect this is largely because being able to hit higher notes is a measurable achievement, as well as a worthy one. I thought it would be useful to share some other measurable achievements in this article that you might not have thought of that are sure to contribute to your overall vocal prowess. They're likely to help you expand your range as well.
Here we go! Here are 6 measurable singing goals you can commit to this year that will help you grow:
1. Do you always sing loudly or quietly?
This might seem basic, but I find many singers come into the studio with a volume bias, and spending some time with the alternatives can be a game changer. If 1/10 (one out of ten) is the quietest you can phonate, and 10/10 is the absolute loudest, try some of your favorite song choruses at 3/10, 5/10, and 7/10. Don’t let the pitch suffer. Check that the jaw, neck and tongue all remain free and flexible regardless of the volume you're singing at. If you sing into GarageBand you can see how large or small the wave forms are to keep your volume efforts honest.
2. Are you always using chest voice, or rarely using chest voice?
Many singers have a conscious or unconscious register bias. Some feel most secure singing in an easy heady/sweet register. Some prefer the solidness of their chest/chest mix register. You can do it all and switching it up might open some doors for you. If you tend light and sweet, try to mimic some beltier singers like Meghan Trainor, SZA, or John Legend. If you tend to use a lot of chest, challenge yourself with an Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, or Sam Smith heady-mix.
3. How bright or dark do your vowels tend to be?
Record yourself singing and zoom in on this element. Are you more of a Kristin Chenoweth singing “Popular” (brighter vowels) from Wicked, or a Cher singing “Believe” (darker vowels). Try both. Switch it up: Do “Popular” like you think Michael Bublé would do it. Do “Believe” like Blossom Dearie. The sillier, the better. Make sure your tongue stays free and flexible. Don’t let the pitch suffer. Record yourself on your phone so you can observe the reality of the sound, not just what it sounds like in your head as you're singing.
4. Can you do a siren without cracking?
Can you do a siren (sliding up and down) from your lowest note to your highest note and back on a “hee” and a “hoo” without cracking? If you can only do it going up, but not coming down (or vice versa), see if you can figure out what makes the one direction easier and apply it to the other direction. Try doing the siren on a lip trill, a tongue trill, with a straw or an ng. Is that easier and more successful for you than the vowels? Locate where the crack is happening in your voice and go directly from the strategy that is working into the “hee” or the “hoo” that isn’t. Take your time with it. Be curious, patient, and gentle.
5. Can you sing with a straight tone and with vibrato?
Again, some singers have a strong preference and struggle to perform the alternative. Both are learnable and both can be beautiful. In my experience, learning vibrato requires a willingness to spend a little time feeling messy and out of control. You’ve got to let your tone wobble around, slightly above the pitch and slightly below. Start slow and speed it up, make sure your body is free, not tight. Mimic singers with a vibrato that sounds good to you. Learning straight tone often requires a willingness to feel very exposed for people who usually use vibrato. Vibrato might feel like a safety blanket. Perhaps you’ll feel the sound of singing a straight tone is boring and colorless. Lean into it. Some singers who are used to singing with a lot of vibrato hear a straight tone as “flat” even if it isn’t actually below pitch. Use the “Singscope” or “Nail the Pitch” app to check your pitches as you sing your straight tones.
6. Do you have any singing-related deadlines coming up?
Decide to take a certain number or frequency of voice lessons — you don’t even have to know who you intend to take them with right now. Pick a number and stick to it. Join a choir or a cappella group. Commit to making a certain number or frequency of videos of your singing for your website or your social media. Find a way to step outside of your comfort zone. Get some things in the calendar while you’re using this birds-eye view of your year and then all you have to do is go through with it.
Hopefully, one of these goal ideas sparks some curiosity in you. If you hit roadblocks along the way and need more strategies and guidance, there’s lots of very helpful content in the Voice Lessons to the World channel on YouTube. You might also consider signing up for a voice lesson and sharing your goal with your teacher. They are sure to have some helpful exercises and advice to get you where you want to go.
Tim studied music at Oberlin Conservatory and since then has pursued a 14+ year career as a voice teacher, vocal coach, music director, and pianist here in New York City. He’s worked with many of Broadway’s biggest stars in these capacities, including Kristen Chenoweth, Tituss Burgess, Chita Rivera, and Andrew Rannells, and on several Broadway shows as a pianist and conductor, including The Addams Family, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and Carousel. Tim is always honored to join singers on their vocal journeys. Helping a singer to unlock their vocal powers is one of the most gratifying things he’s ever been a part of. He has tremendous respect for anyone who has the courage to challenge themselves to grow, and is eager to be a positive force in that process!
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