By Molly Rosen
One of the most common questions I get from my students, especially my beginner vocalists, is: “how often should I practice singing?”. My response is to ask yourself, how quickly do you want to progress? The answer to that question will determine how often, and for how long you should be practicing.
If you’re taking lessons to become a dynamic musical theatre performer, count on practicing for at least an hour everyday. In that daily singing practice routine, you should be including vocal warm ups and polishing repertoire. Similarly, expect to practice almost daily if you aspire to become an opera diva or divo. These genres not only demand more time, but also require much more from you, both mentally and physically.
But if you fall into the category of the majority of my students, you’re probably taking singing lessons for fun. In that case, daily practice is not necessary to improve your vocals. But even if you’re not looking to make a career out of singing, it is still imperative to practice singing for at least 20 minutes, three to four days out of the week.
Whether you aspire to be a professional or casual singer, this list of my top five singing practice techniques will help you drastically improve your vocals.
1. Get Focused
Take a moment to clear your mind and get comfortable in your space. If possible, try to eliminate any distractions. Find a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be distracted. By practicing getting focused, you will be prepared for any future performances, where it is essential for you to clear your mind before you sing.
2. Record Every Session
The best way to measure how you’re improving is through recording every practice session. I recommend to video record each singing practice, as you can play back and make note of not only how you sound, but also how you appear while you’re practicing.
3. Make Your Warm Up Fun
Think of your warm up as your “mini practice”. This is the time when you’re figuring out what your favorite exercises are, so use your imagination to find them! Sing a scale in a new way- use movement, change the rhythm, sing it in a different style than you usually do (try opera, gospel, or power-ballad), or create a dance routine. If you do something unique and unusual with your warm ups, you will put yourself in a great frame of mind while working on your repertoire.
4. The Creative Rehearsal
If you thought the fun portion was while you were warming up, you were wrong! Get creative with your singing practice- take your song, and add a twist. Invent a new character, and sing the song in their voice. Be overly dramatic while you sing. Sing your song in “nonsense words”.
If you’re still learning the musical aspects of your song, it’s easier to break down the song into smaller pieces. Take the song eight measures at a time, and learn the rhythm and pitches for those measures before moving on. It’s important to pace yourself, so you stay focused on your song.
5. The Imaginary Performance
In every practice session, include a “performance”. Imagine you’re singing before an audience- without stopping, sing to impress! By doing so, you will find that you’ve improved your voice exponentially over time.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does create progress. But throughout this journey as a singer, remember to be easy on yourself. Expect mistakes. Having practical expectations while you’re practicing will help you easily improve your vocals. On the other hand, if you’re overly critical of yourself, you will find that it is more difficult to reach your goals. Whatever that goal may be, remember- it starts in the mind, and not the larynx. So keep these five pointers in mind the next time you’re practicing singing. You will not only notice an improvement in your vocals, but you will also have much more fun throughout the process!
I am passionate about music, acting and the performing arts in general. I believe everyone has the ability to sing and should!
I’ve been performing for over 20 years and teaching for the past 12 years. I’m a proud member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. If you’d like to learn more about taking singing lessons, you can find more information and message me on my Savvy page.