“Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you” – Billy Joel
The other day at work, one of my co-workers said, “I don’t make resolutions. They just get forgotten in about three weeks anyway.” And while I laughed at the bluntness of her statement, I was also struck by the truthfulness. Most of us probably at least think of New Year’s resolutions, but as my co-worker pointed out, we soon forget them.
As singers, we often say the same things as New Year’s dieters. We want to “Sing better”, “have better breath control,” or “dedicate more time to home practice.” But for many, the major roadblock to singer improvement is establishing a follow through plan.
Here are some helpful suggestions to follow through with your New Year singing goals:
- Keep your goals to a minimum. Having too many goals can get awkward, and we end up quitting. Stick to one, or two at the most.
- Be specific. Statements like “I want to sing better,” are like saying you’re going to write a term paper on the universe and how it works. Way too vague and too big to do well. Focus on being specific, like, “I want to focus on good alignment every time I sing.” Very specific, and very attainable!
- Identify Resources. We have resources today like we’ve never had them. Facebook, Twitter, search engines, videos, and the old standards, people and books. I suggest that once you find an area for improvement, talk to your vocal teacher or director to help find resources.
- Set Objectives. What do you want the finished product to look like? Use phrases like, “At the end of (time frame), I want to be able to…”, and spell out your long term goal(s). See suggestion #2 as a good example.
- Set goals. Goals are short term road markers that help you reach your larger objective. In football, the goal is to score a touchdown. However, piling up first downs moves you toward your objective, and a 10 yard goal seems more achievable than an 80 yard goal. So, “by the end of ____, I want to be able to ______.” Make the goals achievable so your success can fuel success. Then, adjust as needed. If you don’t meet a goal, adjust or extend it.
- Make a plan. A plan is nothing more than daily goals. The daily goals help you reach the short term goals, which help you reach your objective. “Step one: talk to director. Step two: identify resources. Step three: _________.” Building a house takes time, and must be done in the order. Building good singing habits is no different.
One last thing. We all get busy, and sometimes life interferes with our grand plan. One missed day, or one missed week, should not throw us off our goal. After all, improving as a singer is a lifetime of work, and today is literally the first day of the rest of your life. Don’t let little setbacks make you quit. Keep going. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Good luck, and good singing!