Did you know that young musicians serious about their craft practice their instrument 2-4 hours a day? Some even practice 8 hours a day on holiday and summer vacation! Amazing, right?!
Do you know as a singing musician you also can practice that same amount every day? Yep, no excuses! You CAN practice 2-4 hours a day :).
Hold up, Ms. Amedee! How in the world could I possibly SING for 2-4 hours straight every day? My voice would give out! I would get so tired. I would be so bored!
I know, friend! It seems impossible, even crazy! But you know what? A GREAT and PRODUCTIVE practice time is just within your grasp. Let me show you.
I've got some great ideas for you!
To keep your practice time moving, productive and fun you need to mix up your practice time with different practice techniques: time to move, time to sing, time to listen and time to think.
Variety is the key to success! Utilizing multiple practice techniques within your 2-4 hour practice time means your voice won’t get fatigued, you will get so much accomplished and you won’t get bored! The best part: huge improvement in your over all performance!
Here. Go ahead and take a look at this 3 hour practice session schedule I created and give it a whirl.
Grab your water bottle, music score, recording device, pencil and colored pencils. Get ready to have a great practice time. Let’s go!!
Hour # 1
Warm up the body with simple stretches (ex. sun salutation) and breathing exercises.
20- 30 mins:
Warm up the voice with vocalises for 20- 30 minutes. Start with simple voice exercises that start by warming up the middle of your voice. After the middle voice is warm move on to more difficult exercises as you extend past your middle range in both directions.
Note: get out your recording device and start recording yourself.
Practice singing through your repertoire.
Sing through your song from beginning to end. Make note (with your pencil) of any areas that you should address or that your teacher has asked you to practice.
Find the part of the song you want to work on. Practice small sections (measures at a time or even notes at a time). The goal is to practice those small sections excellently 5 times in a row. If you mess up, make the section smaller and go slower. As you progress, add on another small section. Once you have accomplished perfection in a section, sing the section in its entirety 5 times
Sing the song again while recording yourself.
Listen back to your recording.
Grab some water and a notebook and pencil. Take some sips of water while you listen back to yourself sing a few times. While listening, make notes of any areas you did well, but most importantly areas that need improvement. Mark the section that you will practice next and make notes in your score with PENCIL :).
Note: you can NEVER make too many markings or notes in your music score! Seriously, write all your notes down! It’s your road map to success, friend!
10 - 20 mins
Find a recording of your piece by a trusted artist/artists. (note: the vocal artist should be vetted by your teacher to play it safe and make sure there are no mistakes in the recording.) Listen or watch the recording with your score. There is so much to be gleaned from watching and listening to trained singers. It will help expand your ear “pallet”, help with your performance practice and so much more. Listen, listen, listen!
Note: I love listening and memorizing while I’m running. Go ahead and take your listening practice outside on a walk and run. Physical activity, especially cardio exercise, counts as practice time in my studio, so get moving!
Now that you had a vocal break, it’s time to sing again! Grab your music, get back to the piano and start working on the section you needed to practice after listening to your recording. Follow the same structure as before a.k.a small sections 5xs perfectly and then add on. After you have sung the section 5xs in a row without messing up, start you recording device and sing the song in its entirety again.
Hour # 3
Again, grab your note book and take some time to have a “sit and listen”. Listen to yourself sing and write down any observations and areas your need to work on for the next practice session.
Grab your score and get some colored pencils!
Yep, it’s time to get creative. Assign a color to different markings in your score (for example: dynamic markings like piano- mezzopiano can be blue, tempo changes can be orange, key signatures can be purple, etc.) and color your score. Really get into it. The more detail the better: tempo changes, key changes, editorial markings, breath marks. Translate any foreign words or phrases and write the translation in your score. This is a wonderful way to get more intimate with the piece and visually learn the song.
Memorize a page of the song. 1 page a day :) You can do it.
Finish out the day by doing some research on your song/songs.
Let' s pretend you are an archeologist and you discovered this mysterious song on an excavation. How exciting! Now that you found this song, ask where, why, who, and what questions about it. Where did the song come from? Why was it written? Who wrote it and for whom was it written? When was it first performed? Why is this song important. What does it mean?
Along with historical research, you can perform theoretical analysis on your music by diagraming the song to see its harmonic and melodic structure. Knowledge is POWER! Find out a much information as you can about your piece and your performance will only improve.
Whew! You did it! You just accomplished 3 hours of practice time!
By mixing it up and utilizing the multiple practice techniques (time to move, time to sing, time to listen and time to think), you had a STELLAR practice time.
I'm so proud of you! Let's do it again tomorrow.