Saturday, June 14, 2008

The practice of practice

All the vocal practicing I do falls into one of two broad categories. The first of these is technique. Here, I attend to things like pitch control, articulation, projection, range, and generally not sucking. I focus intently on specific parts of songs that need work, repeating them over and over again until (hopefully) I start to hear improvement.

The second category is maintenance. Maintenance involves running songs from beginning to end, seeing if I can get through them without any big mistakes.

I tend to spend more time on maintenance. It's easier and more fun. There's also more of a need for it if a gig is coming up. Unfortunately, this tendency hinders improvement. The thing that separates masters from amateurs in any area, be it chess, tennis, music, or vintage Donkey Kong, is that masters attend mindfully to every facet of their performance as they practice, striving to make each one better.

So for the past couple weeks, I've resolved to spend more time on technique. In particular, I've been working on extending my upper range. (For all y'all who have never heard Cinder Bridge, I have an unusually low voice for a woman, and it's hard for me to reach "high notes" that most tenors can hit without difficulty.) We had a gig coming up on the 13th, but I figured I could get a lot of the maintenance-style work done during band rehearsal.

Well, stuff happened. Rehearsal was called due to illness -- drummer had to take care of an ailing kitty. Then other responsibilities (and horrible time management) got in the way of my doing the maintenance I needed to do. I feared that all my great attention to technique would result in me singing "na na na" really well as I struggled to remember the lyrics to my own songs.

As it turns out, last night's gig was cancelled. One of the proprietors of the coffeehouse in which we were to perform got sick, and they decided they'd probably close early.

I was not nearly as disappointed as I should have been.

Next Friday we have a gig at Old Town Artisans. Between then and now, I will find a way to balance these categories of practice.

1 comment:

DeppityBob said...

Actually, you have an unusually low voice for a man. Come to think of it, you DID disappear to Sweden for a while...