What Puppies Taught Me About Singing

You read that right -- puppies! Allow me to explain...

One of my students, Claire S., is an assistance dog trainer. She's enrolled in Singing Transformation and noticed that a lot of my teaching revolved around the following principle:

Singer's should QUIT....while they're ahead.

It might sound weird. But it's a tried-and-true method -- not just for learning how to sing. As Claire told me, it's also great for training service dogs!

Before we talk more about puppies, let's first discuss:

What does it mean to "quit while you're ahead" when you practice singing?

In my opinion, the best warmups sessions should end on a "high note" (no pun intended). If you use my 3-step practice system, your typical warmup session might look like this:

  • PART 1: Breath Activation and Stretching (relieve tension, make sure your singer "engine" is working for you)
  • PART 2: "Open Up Shop" (get the juices flowing)
  • PART 3: Skills Work (a couple of challenging exercises, to develop whatever skill you're working in)

**The quitting happens in Part 3.**

At this step, you might sing through a challenging exercise one time and feel like, "Okay, that was decent. But I can do better." So you sing through it again.

This second time? Damn -- it felt really good! It wasn't perfect, but you can hear progress. You feel relaxed, and for the most part, very jazzed about how it sounded.

My advice to you is: STOP. THERE. Log your progress, write down what worked, but then close up shop for the day.

Why?

While working on a singing skill, it's easy to push yourself to the point where you're straining, pushing, or feeling frustrated.

When you quit while you're ahead, you avoid that negative spiral, AND you end your session on a positive note -- thereby reinforcing to your subconscious mind that you CAN do it.

But don't just take it from me. Take it from Claire and her experience training little cutie dogs: 

Claire wrote:

"Fel, [quitting while you're ahead] is the same principle I use when training assistance dogs.

"When we were training a new skill, if we stopped at the point when the puppy had just reached a new skill level, and celebrated it together, they would be able to do it really well the next session, and also be super keen and confident.

"On the other hand, if I pushed them to keep going after the new milestone had been achieved they would begin to go backwards and everything would unravel...next session they would be less confident and clear about what to do."

"Shorter sessions clearly proved to be the best training method, as the puppies improved much more rapidly and with less stress. Their cute little minds had time to process things in between sessions."

Didja hear that?

Our cute (singer) minds deserve a break in between training sessions, just like those adorable puppies.

Listen to the puppy... "Don't over-practice!"

 

What do you think of this technique? Are you willing to give it a try?

Leave me a comment here on my blog, I'll read every single one!

xo Fel

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