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Perfect practice makes perfect.

Perfect practice

If you are a singer you have had a moment when you’ve asked yourself, “Am I practicing correctly?” How does a singer practice? Where should they practice? How long should the practice sessions be? Below I’ve listed my top ten practice tips that I’ve learned on my journey and that I incorporate into my daily practice routine.

(In no particular order)

1. Find a calm, creative place to practice. Choose a quiet corner of your home or a nice spot next to the piano/keyboard. The space in which you vocalize should make you feel comfortable and centered, free of distraction.

2. Timing. It’s wise to practice only when your body and mind feel rested and focused. If you are feeling tired, distracted, sad or frustrated tomorrow is probably a better option.

3. How long? Ah, my favorite question. This answer is different for every singer. I generally like to keep my practice session short and efficient. Often thirty minutes multiple times a week (daily if possible) is great! As I get closer to a performance or show I will increase the duration to an hour. A practice session for teenage singers should be shorter (approx. 20 minutes) as to not fatigue the voice.

4. The mental practice session. Yes, please! Did you know you can practice without using your voice? The pros call this score study. Sit in that calm, creative place you found earlier and look at your music. Memorize it. Live it. Breathe it. This time includes researching the opera/show, translation, synopsis and composer. The hours spent doing this type of work may have no time limit. A great deal of my practice as a performer is spent doing this. It will deepen your performance and understanding of the character you are portraying.

5. Perfect Practice. No, this isn’t a Mary Poppins quote. This means that a practice session done with poor technique, breathing or posture is not effective at all. You are better off not practicing and resting your voice. Always be conscious of the technique issues you are working in your lessons and study as you practice. A singer that practices without thinking through the process will develop bad habits. The practice session is done to do just the opposite. A 2o minute session perpetuating good singing habits and techniques will always be better than an hour using poor technique.

6. A Cappella practice. Take that phrase you are working on perfecting and sing it a cappella. Give yourself a starting pitch, sing through the phrase and then check in with your ending pitch. If you’ve gone astray, try the phrase again. Have you gone flat? Sharp? Adjust and get that phrase soaring in tune!

7. Be your own teacher. If I had a nickel for every time I said this phrase in a lesson…. When practicing you must be your own teacher. Sing a phrase and ask yourself, “How can that phrase be better?” Add some more dynamics? Use a different articulation? Sing a shape? Breathe deeper? Whatever the issue may be you must become your own teacher. This makes for a much more effective and efficient practice session.

8. Write it down. Recording what you did in each practice session may be useful. What warm-ups did you accomplish? What was your range that particular day? What pieces did you work on? Journaling progress can be extremely helpful!

9. Mix it up! Try that new warm-up you heard your friend sing. Use a warm-up in your practice session you learned in chorus today. Maybe start at the end of your song instead of the beginning? Changing up the routine a little each time while keeping a core set of exercises keeps you interested and motivated.

10. Enjoy your time practicing your craft! You’ve been given a gift. Use it and enjoy every minute of it!

Submitted by: LBWietig

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