I have been teaching for over a decade and I can always tell when a client comes to their lesson having practiced. Their voices are usually stronger, more balanced, and way more equipped for challenging song phrases. If you haven’t been a consistent with your practice, don’t even sweat it, don’t make time for ‘practice guilt.’ Instead just get right back into it. But, how exactly should we practice? Is there a method to getting this ‘right’?
This is the beauty of having your lesson recording. When listening back, try not to focus on how you sound in the lesson recording, and focus more on what the exercises feel like as you sing along. If you like to take notes, jot down some of the coaching tips I give you as you’re singing. Or make a mental note of what coaching points are always repeated, chances are those are habitual patterns that need to be worked on.
Here are some tips to help get you started on a more regular focused practice.
1) Pick 3-4 days at the start of your week and schedule in your practice times (no less than 3 days per week) – yes actually type or write this into your schedule, the time in which you are going to be practicing
2) Aim for 20-45 minutes of practice – with periods of rest – this may increase to one hour as you advance – always make time for short increments of vocal rest during your practice – straw work and sips of water etc.
3) Don’t go straight to your songs without working through the scales – scales are going to help you progress better in the songs
4) Listen and sing along with the recorded sequence of exercises:
5) Listen to the song(s) you are learning – active listening is paying close attention to the melody, follow along with the sheet music or lyrics, what is the singer doing, where does the song go?
6) Practice along with the singer – if you don’t have the correct melody, go back and listen to it again, if there is a riff that you need to learn, practice it slower – do you have precision and clarity on each melody note (approach notes and ‘not so important notes’ too!)
7) Having trouble on that one note? – take out the lyrics, and practice along with the vowel consonant combinations assigned (more details will be given in the application portion of the lesson)
8) Practice phrase by phrase, slowly – over and over again (3-5 minute increments)
9) Write down what came up for you that was challenging and bring that into your next session (you can also bring your practice journal in to share your progress)
10) Remember to have fun! The process of training is exciting and should be enlightening! Your voice will get stronger and more balanced and you will be able to sing more challenging material. Do not rush the process. Aim for progress vs perfection! It may not feel like you’re getting anywhere, but just keep going.
11) Change is good – if it doesn’t feel different from what you’re used to doing, chances are you aren’t making progress. Use this practice time to build better habits and better muscle memory which is going to feel different from how you approached singing before.
Remember, it’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency. You’ll be surprised where it takes you.