Vocal Tips: Structuring Your Practice Time

girl singingYou know the importance of practicing – but do you know how exactly to organize your practice sessions for the most effective use of your time? Read on for helpful advice from Saint Louis, MO teacher Cathy C

Voice students – do you LOVE singing?  Isn’t it wonderful to listen to singers perform their art beautifully?  Do you get chills when the most powerful part of your favorite piece is sung with emotion and skill?

Guess what?  When you practice, you get to do what you love – you get to sing!  Your practice time is the chance to experiment, self-assess, gain skill and emotionally connect with the music. You practice so that when performance time comes, you can share the joy of making music with your listeners.

But how do you structure this time? Vocal practice sessions are not a one-size-fits-all kind of work.  Vocal students need to be self-aware enough to assess what works for them in relation to the particular musical goal they hope to achieve.   Some questions to ask are: (1) What is my goal for this week?  (2) Do I have all the supplies I need?  (3) What warm-ups should I use to help me focus on my weekly goal?  (4) Where should I practice in order to meet my goal?  Does the space matter to me?

Once you answer those questions, you will know what you need to do when you sing in order to make progress.

GOALS: Goals should be set in each lesson as a teacher-student partnership.  You should leave each lesson knowing what you should work on between lessons.  If that is not clear, your voice teacher can help you!

SUPPLIES: Do you have everything you need to reach your goal?  Necessary items may include accompaniment recordings, stands, printed music, alternate recordings or online links, a personal recording device, a mirror, and note-taking materials.

WARM-UP: Just as runners stretch before they head out for a training run, vocalists need to warm up the body and voice.  Vocalists should be engaging the breath and all of the vocal embouchure (jaw, lips, tongue, pallet, teeth), and also establishing mental focus.  Specific warm-up exercises that cater to the end-goal are also important.

LOCATION: Some students need solitude and quiet, some need the shower (yes, it’s true), and some need an audience.  You know what works best for you! Consider that mental rehearsing counts as practice and can be done anywhere you can mentally focus.  Lyrics can be memorized in the car or during an exercise session, and vowels can be sung in nearly any location.  Time spent listening to recordings of yourself (in the car, for example) is valuable and will help move you toward your goal.

Structure your practice time around who you are as a person and what your singing goal for the week is! Enjoy the effort and the results.  Staying goal-focused will move you along and help you make the most of your vocal lessons!

St. Louis voice teacher Cathy C.

Cathy C. teaches guitar, singing, music performance and songwriting lessons to students of all ages in Saint Louis, MO. Her specialties include classical voice, pop voice, contemporary Christian guitar and voice, folk guitar and acoustic; she is also a Board Certified Music Therapist. Learn more about Cathy, or visit TakeLessons to find a teacher near you!


Photo by D Simmonds

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