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Vocal Practice 101

So, you've had a voice lesson and now you're ready to practice. But... how? When it comes to practicing your singing, it is super important to know how to make efficient use of your time so that you're working intentionally towards your goals. In this blog, I'm going to answer the top questions I get asked about practicing to help you get clear about what to do so you can get started.

1) What do I need for my practice session?

Not much, honestly! (Singer perks - you carry your instrument with you everywhere!) You need your binder with your music or lyrics, a pencil, and a device to play your backing tracks on. If you have a warm up track, you also need to have it on your device.

Nice to have, but not necessary, are a water bottle, a music stand and a journal (or your Muzie account) to keep some practice notes and any questions that come up in.

2) How much do I need to practice?

I get this question a LOT. Here's the question I have for you in return: what is your goal? Someone who is a beginner singer that is looking to take lessons for fun is going to need less practice than a student who is wanting to pursue a career in music, is involved in a show or has a vocal audition or exam coming up.

You want your practice amount to match your singing goals. The quality of your practice is *far* more important than the quantity of your practice. Consistent practice is also more beneficial than sporadic practice, so you're better off spending 10-15 minutes singing every day or two than spending an hour practicing just one day a week.

Your age and ability also play a role in how I would answer this question. A younger child's practice sessions could be 10-20 minutes, whereas teenaged and adult students have the vocal stamina to practice for longer chunks of time (30-60 minutes) if their schedule allows for it. Play around with your schedule to see where you could fit a regular amount of practice time 4-6 days a week. I have said it before and I will say it over and over again - consistent practice is FAR more beneficial than sporadic practice.

3) so... do i just sing?

Chances are you probably sing a lot... in the car, in the shower, with your friends. Does that count as practice?

Not really. It counts as singing, but unless you are creating sound with *intention,* I would not classify it as practicing. It's still fantastic, and I highly encourage singing (obviously!!), but no, it is not practicing.

As you learn to sing, you are learning to coordinate tiny muscles, which you cannot see, to function in a new way. This takes brain power! That's why having intention behind the sounds that you're making is the key to good practice - if you're just singing for fun without paying attention to how you're making the sounds, you're not conditioning your muscles to work differently, but relying on your previous muscle memory.

A useful practice session is also not just singing through your song three times. There is a time and a place for run-throughs, but there are many more-effective ways to practice to help you reach your goals faster!

4) How Should I Structure My Practicing?

Think of your practice time as a mini-lesson! Following a similar structure in your practice means you are setting yourself up for success. There will be three main parts:

1. Body Warm Up

  • Start with a quick 1-2 minute stretch of your upper body, including neck, shoulders, and a little face massage.

  • If you've been working on breath, spend time before making any sound focusing on your breathing techniques, too.

2. Vocal Warm Up

  • What you do for your vocal warm up will be entirely dependant on your age, vocal range, vocal strengths and challenges, your goals and the kind of music you're singing. (Did you realize it was all so personalized? It is!) In my studio, students can use their lesson notes and other tools provided on Muzie to guide them through this section on their practice session.

  • Your warm up isn't just about going through the motions and singing the exercises - each exercise has a goal and is specifically crafted to help you with a certain vocal technique. Keep the goal of the exercise in mind and don't be afraid to repeat an exercise a few times or to slow it down to let your brain get the hang of it. Patience is key here! The more intentional you are with your technical warm-up, the more well set-up your voice will be for the next step.

3. Song Work

  • Finally, the part you've been waiting for... singing your song! Now that your body and voice are primed to work their best, you can work on your song. I suggest looking through your lesson notes before you begin so you remember what we've been working on together.

  • How you structure this time depends on your personal preferences. Some prefer to run through their song once just to see what feels good and what needs some attention still, others prefer to leap right into the sections we were working on in the lesson first and run-through later... or maybe not at all.

  • The most important part of your song work is the detailed, intention-driven work of a specific section so you can implement the things we did in your lesson. Repetition is key! Go slow, repeat small chunks, keep your goal in mind, and self-evaluate as you sing. We're building new muscle memory, remember? Try to be fully in the moment and aware of your body as you do this work.

The Extra Mile

Want to go the extra mile with your practice? Jot down any thoughts, ideas or questions that come up during your practicing so we can dive into those in your next lesson. There's even a place for you to do this in Muzie so you can keep all your voice lesson stuff in one spot on this fabulous and bewildering thing we call the internet.

Another fabulous way to wind-down your practice session is to reflect on what went well and name 3 things you are proud of yourself for. This thinking allows us to end on a positive note and helps us to want to do it again tomorrow, even if it felt like a slog today!

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