I feel that one of the most critical things that I can impart to students is help them form clear intentions in their singing. Singing with intentionality informs technique, interpretation, and performance. Too often, I find that singers simply start singing without forming a clear intention beforehand. This leads to confusion, anxiety, and often, a poor performance.
At the beginning of study, it is important to allow the student enough emotional room to experiment and to notice what feels better, what sounds better. After a time, it becomes important to "ask" for certain sensations in the body that will allow the singer to produce the sounds that they desire.
The conscious "asking" is what I hope to instill in singers. A simple, non-technical exercise will help the student to understand the value of "asking" before singing.
Try this exercise. Write down a number of "intentions" onto separate 3x5 cards, using one intention per card. States of mind such as: "playful," cajoling," anxious," timid," etc. will suffice.
Select a number of cards for the student to work with. Have the student start with one intention, and begin singing either a vocalise or a song with that intention. Switch the intention several times during the vocalization.
Upon completion of the exercise, discuss with the student how the intentions helped, or hampered their abilities to sing, their feelings about singing, and their energy level during singing.
The student will come to an understanding of how much their intentions can affect them in their singing.