How to practice
I'm currently busy preparing for a new semester with my private studio as well as at SUNY Dutchess. Part of the preparation involves reevaluating course handouts and topics for the semester.
I put together a basic 'How to Practice' guide that... hello!... I need to work on following. Overall theme? Don't skip steps.
repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
synonyms: training, rehearsal, repetition, preparation
Plan on setting aside at least 30 minutes a day, 5 x a week. This includes all means of preparation, like speaking through your text, researching your song, researching the composers, memorizing, etc as well as warming up and singing through songs.
Find a quiet, safe place where you are able to sing out. Your car does not count.
What to bring?
Your music, water, & recording device. (You may want to record yourself at times and listen back. It is also extremely helpful to video record yourself singing through your songs to watch back.) Here is a very helpful video by Tim Welch on How to Study Your Own Performance:
-Sit quietly for 5 minutes to center yourself. Close your eyes and observe your breath. (You bring everything with you to your practice session. Take 5 Minutes to let go of the angry post you saw on FaceBook that made your shoulders rise above your ears.)
-Stretch. (You can't sing if you can't get a low breath and you can't breathe if your alignment is all out of whack.)
-30 jumping jacks. (Singing is a sport. ENERGY is required.)
-Go through the warmup you've developed with your teacher. Start out singing softly and with as little effort as possible. Build from there. Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks (this is why recording yourself is helpful, you sing a little..… then listen….. sing a little….then listen and repeat.)
-Check in with your body. Are you holding tension somewhere? Can you do something to ease the tension or find release? PLAY.
-Go on FEEL, not on sound.
-Go with where your voice is that day. Don’t push it if it’s not there.
-When you’re warming up, be a technician, not a performer. This is not about making perfect, beautiful sounds. Take the emotion out of it and think like a technician. Save the emotion and feeling for your song.
-Remember you are the only one who truly knows what is going on with your voice. If something doesn’t feel right, stop, take a break, and reevaluate.
-Warm up SLOWLY, by starting off SOFTLY. When we add volume…. we engage more muscles. By humming softly you’re stretching like an athlete does before running a marathon. Don’t skip steps and start belting your song out without warming up. You’ll tire yourself out more quickly.
-Treat your voice with the respect, care and honor it deserves. Work on developing an awareness around your instrument. Notice when your voice gets tired and do what you need to do to NOT PUSH IT. Don’t sing if it hurts.
-Get sleep, eat well, exercise, drink lots of water, don’t smoke and don’t be around it.
-Don’t sing on an empty stomach.
I'll be posting more in the coming weeks and I welcome your feedback! Feel free to comment below or send me private message. Would love to hear from you!