I started my new years resolutions early. I have started working out regularly, eating better and more consciously, and also practicing smarter and harder.
I had taken an extremely long sabbatical from regular singing. I think one of the major lessons I have learned from this year away from academia is how self-motivated one must be to continue moving forward in this career. I feel like I have always "known" this but being in school I never really had to put it into practice. There was always something to prepare for like the next show, recital, jury, or lesson. Without even the motivating power of weekly lessons (and by my last year in school I was taking two and a half hours of lessons/coaching every week, so spoiled!) it's easy to get distracted by things like food and sleep and my inner voice, whose mantra apparently is "don't worry about it, you have all day tomorrow to practice."
After a small series of auditions for summer work etc. I found myself once again feeling totally apathetic to the act of productive directed singing on a daily basis. It wasn't until I realized that just because I was done with those auditions that I wasn't done with singing for the season. I decided to give myself a real plan for my singing goals. My plan not only includes an overhaul of my aria package (tidying up all the loose ends I have been meaning to get around to) but also adding a full role to my repertoire AND performing a full recital. All of this is to be accomplished in a mere three months. Impressed? So am I. I have sketched out a calendar of mini goals and deadlines within my three month time frame and am feeling beyond confident about it. I do have a couple of recent personal discoveries to help me a long the way:
1. My new method of practicing: I record my entire practice sessions and while I am practicing I listen back to parts of the recording. It gives me an accurate representation of the sound I am making (because we all know that trying to listen to yourself while singing is a BAD idea). I also talk to myself in the recording about what I am feeling and thinking about an approach to a phrase or after I have sung something. Doing this helps me record how I approached some musical item so I can attempt to continue doing it correctly and keep improving. I seriously endorse this practicing method for anyone who is beyond the point of requiring a teacher's presence every time you open your mouth. Practicing like this has totally transformed my productivity and focus in the practice room. It's like taking a voice lesson from yourself. This was a method suggested to me by a professor at Eastman (from my visit in October). It is amazing.
2. Practicing an hour at least everyday: Even when I don't want to or don't have time or energy to practice I force myself to do some productive singing (not just sing through some things). When I don't have enough energy I only vocalize and work on technique because I know that it will force me to focus, where as i might be tempted into just singing if I work on repertoire. If I'm sick I speak through my repertoire and work on interpretation. Basically, I'm trying to follow the "just do it" philosophy. Which leads right into my next motivator.
3. Do something for my career everyday: This is a philosophy I have heard of from a variety of sources and when I feel like putting something off I just think of this sentiment and feel inspired to persevere. Honestly, I think this statement can apply to so many things including practicing and exercising, both of which can help sharpen my skills and image.
No time to waste now, back to practicing.