How to Overcome Practice Room Paranoia

Today after I finished class and clomped home in my rain boots (Thanks, Nashville), I nearly collided with a workman who was on his way to service my upstairs roommate's apartment. I groaned inwardly as the inner dialogue started.

“Ok, why don’t you postpone that vocal warmup session until after he leaves.”

*Clomp-clomp into the house. Door slam*

“He’s gonna yell bloody murder when he hears the sirens.”

*Rain boots removed after considerable effort*

“I’m sure he’d love to hear the ‘I AM A ROBOT...NAAAAAAH’ one! Yeah, no.”

You may be able to identify with my struggle. Not a day passes when I’m not reminded of all the talent that surrounds me at Belmont University. This knowledge follows me into every practice room, and haunts me whenever I open my mouth to sing. I’m already self conscious practicing full songs in those little rooms that are so darn echoey, let alone the slew of bizarre warm-ups I have to sing.

Sirens, riffs up and down a scale, “nay-nays” and “I AM A ROBOTs” have a way of penetrating the walls of practice rooms and making my delicate ego cringe. Unfortunately, when we singers get self-conscious, our egos aren’t the only things that cringe. Vocal chords are very sensitive to surrounding tension. When we’re nervous or “cringy," so are our chords. Not good.

So, what should you and I do when we just can’t seem to practice well within earshot of others?

Here are 5 things to remember:

1. It doesn’t matter if people hear your ridiculous warmups.

If other people are weirded out or judgmental of the sounds emanating from your practice room, then they aren’t the type of person you should care about. True musicians know about “the struggle”, and will likely be impressed by the fact that you’re practicing fearlessly.

2. Singing weird warmups with confidence will help your overall confidence as a performer.

You know it’s true! If you can sing a killer “I AM A ROBOT” in front of your vocal seminar class without batting an eyelash, then you know you can accomplish anything!

3. You'll thank yourself later!

Singing full voice in your practice sessions is the only way to true success. You can’t squeeze, whisper or half-sing your way to stardom.

4. You very well might make someone laugh.

Hey, brighten someone’s day. Maybe they’ve never personally witnessed a coloratura soprano crest a siren with a high F. Likely, the experience will be memorable (to say the least).

5. You very well might make yourself laugh!

Let loose! Have some fun. Relaxing your mind, body and spirit will give your vocal chords the best environment in which to be conditioned for greatness.

So, did I end up practicing? Yes. Did Mr. Worker Guy care? Probably not.

But guess what?I learned how to do a mean harmony with a power drill.