Over the years, I’ve received various reactions from students when stating ‘look in the mirror.’ I’ve seen horrified faces, bashful faces, lots of ‘please don’t make me!’ faces, and very few excited ones.
Actually, I believe my students are quite expressive. They should use these faces on stage, the audience would love them!
So what’s the deal here? I’ve come up with my own conclusions on the apparent taboo of looking in the mirror and I believe a lot resides in the fact that someone else is in the room. Many of you don’t want to be seen checking your makeup or hair, or may appear vain if you look in a mirror…in public.
Of course, why would I ask you to fix your hair or makeup in your lesson? Well, I wouldn’t. Ok, I suppose if we were going on stage in a few moments, however that’s generally not that case. Watching yourself in the mirror while singing has many other benefits that will help you become a stronger presence on stage and allow you to manage your technique at home while you practice.
In my studio, you will notice I have a full length mirror and ‘head shot’ mirror hanging on two different walls. I also have a hand held mirror on the piano. I use all of them on a daily basis, for myself as a singer and with my students.
#1 Reason the Mirror Should Be Your Newest BFF
You can see if you’re breathing correctly. Yes, you may know to get a low breath and to keep your shoulders still. The best of us slip from time to time, especially if we’re getting into the song, so it’s good to have a visual reminder.
You may be aware of how your body works, but many people can’t ‘feel’ things when they start lessons. They need to ‘see to believe.’
#2 Reason the Mirror Should Be Your Newest BFF
I know you don’t believe me when I say your mouth needs to be open more. Look for yourself and keeping looking while you practice at home! You could also record me saying some key phrases and keep it on repeat on your iPod: drop your jaw, keep a tall oval shape, remember your /a/ is rounded. The mirror seems so much nicer though, and again ‘seeing is believing’!
#3 Reason the Mirror Should Be Your Newest BFF
You may want to see what you look like before the audience does. Expression does not come naturally to everyone. You may think it’s not important, or that it’s less important than vocal technique, but ask any audience member and you will be proven wrong.
Once you get on stage, if you do not convey the message of the text and music, are you really performing or merely singing? Expression is shown through your voice, your posture, your face, any movement you make.
Yes, you should practice expression. You may think you look amazing in your acting and with your face, but until you see it yourself or have someone watch you, you don’t really know. You can videotape yourself, but if you are in the middle of practicing then it’s better to get real time feedback (and quite a bit faster). You can fix things quickly, use trial and error, even laugh at yourself.
Once you start using a mirror on a regular basis, you will notice many more advantages. It’s almost like having your real BFF backseat driving for you.