Singing is a very abstract activity. Our instrument - voice box/larynx - is inside of our body so we cannot see or touch it. How can we control an instrument that we cannot see or touch? That’s what makes singing so difficult.
Studies show that beginners rely on auditory feedback (how their voice sounds) to control their voice.
We should be relying on our kinesthetic awareness (the sensations we feel) to control our voice.
Two Kinds of Awareness
There are 2 kinds of awareness:
Exteroception is how we are aware of the outside world. For example: the floor feels rough, the milkshake glass is cold to the touch etc.
Interoception is how we are aware of our bodily functions. For example: we feel hungry, our heart is beating fast and our throat feels tensed etc.
When we are learning a new vocal technique, it is very important that we know how body works to execute the technique. Simple technical knowledge of the vocal anatomy is usually enough for us to understand a technique intellectually.
For instance: We should know where the soft palate is when we are trying to lift it.
Then, we need ask ourselves: How does it feel in my throat/body when I try to do the technique?
For instance: How does it feel at the back of your throat when you managed to lift your soft palate?
It is good to drill vocal technique outside of singing. This way, we can build the necessary muscle memory for the technique.
When we are practicing the technique, ask yourself: what kind of visual imagery or abstract thought pops up in your brain?
For instance: What is the shape of the soft palate when you have lifted it?
Once a vocal technique becomes a strong muscle memory, you can then use imageries to trigger it.
Example: Lifting the Soft Palate
You practice lifting the soft palate while you’re walking down the street/doing everyday stuff. This way, you build up the muscle memory of the technique. Then, you use the imagery of an upside down sushi dish to trigger the muscle memory (of lifting the soft palate) when you sing.
If you do this for all the vocal techniques you learn, they will become second nature when you sing songs.