What? I thought that “practice makes perfect”. No, it doesn’t.
The first problem is that you cannot even define what “perfect” is.
Everyone has a different opinion about a vague undefined concept that we call perfect. Maybe you think that perfect is something that is flawless or without mistakes. This is still a very superficial way of looking at something. There is so much more to this.
When looking at things microscopically, so to speak, they are not as they appear to the naked eye. When analyzing sound, it is not as you perceive it with your ears or your mind. Now we enter an entire universe of gray area, where there are variables beyond your perception or knowledge. So what do we do?
We have to start an analysis of where we are now as a singer and where we want to be as a singer. There are routes that lead to where you might want to go, but there are many routes which will not take you there, regardless of how much or how long you practice.
Two things are required to start navigating. 1) Where are you? and 2) Where do you want to go? This doesn’t just apply to singing. This is a life lesson, too. You don’t want to get lost along the way or go somewhere unplanned or you will waste time and maybe even money.
When I was in college, there was a teacher who had every trumpet player play on the exact same mouthpiece that he did. It worked for him, so why not? The ones who worked well with it, maybe three out of 20 did fine. The others quit, thinking that they were not good enough. He had a PhD. What did he not know? Everyone has a unique mouth, lips, teeth, oral cavity and pharynx. Some people’s teeth are such that the air stream (while playing) projects up; for some, it goes down. One is not right and the other wrong, but there are unique problems to be solved to make it work well. There is much more to this. The seventeen failed trumpet players could have put in six hours a day practicing or just a half hour and it still would have had the same outcome. Wrong = wrong.
Practice does not make perfect when something is wrong.
Every singer is unique and also has a unique mouth, lips, teeth, oral cavity and pharynx. Look around. We all do not look the same! Every singer is currently at a unique level of musicianship, which can be tested. Musicianship is one of at least 18 factors to look at when deciding what needs to be worked on by a singer. Those 18 factors also have subcategories of many more factors. It is not that it is so complex. It is, instead, necessary to work on the exact specific thing and practice the exact specific exercise or method to achieve the best result in the shortest amount of time. Otherwise, your practice makes frustration, or your practice makes you worse, or you have no improvement at all. If you are a singer and a super genius, maybe you can figure it all out on your own. I had to have help. Some of the “help” along the way was useless. Some help was insufficient for what I wanted. I was fortunate to have connected to truth and that truth has a “track record” of enormous success.
Dynamics, intonation, phrasing, style, vocal production, articulation, endurance, and power all play a part in singing. If your teacher cannot tell whether you have problems perceiving pitch or melodic or harmonic interval perception and if your teacher doesn’t know if it is a register transition issue (or not), for which you have developed a bad habit to hide that, you can practice from now until the cows grow wings and fly and you will still sing out of tune. This is but one instance of when your practice will not make perfect.