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How to Improve Your Singing: How Often Should You Practice?

May 23, 2018

How to Improve Your Singing: How Often Should You Practice?

Daniella Alcarpe

Wondering how to improve your singing? While singing lessons are a big part of the equation, the way you practice in between lessons is just as important. Take a look at these tips from Ann Arbor, MI singing teacher Elaina R...


How often should you practice singing? This is a question that, as a voice teacher, I get all the time. The truth is, singers are in a unique position when it comes to practicing, especially compared to other instrumentalists. Here’s the best way for you to learn how to improve your singing with regular practice.

The Voice Is Unique

First, it’s important to remember that the voice is a delicate instrument. The entire vocal apparatus is a part of your body. This is what makes the voice such a personal and special instrument, but it also gives us certain physical limitations. The vocal cords themselves are about the length of a quarter in men and the length of a dime in women – and even smaller in children and adolescents!

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While a professional musician with a man-made instrument (such as a pianist) can practice for many hours a day, singers cannot do so. Why? Our tiny little vocal cords are made of flesh, and there is only so much singing that one person can do healthfully in one day. Even Renée Fleming, arguably the most famous U.S. opera singer today, only practices for two hours a day.

Practicing For the Voice

Because the voice is part of the body – and you can’t go out and buy a new one if you ruin it – it is important to practice in a way that benefits the voice. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a vocal practice schedule.

– Practice Every Day: Think of practicing singing as you would exercise. Exercising every day improves your coordination and muscular ability. Using your voice every day improves the coordination and muscular abilities involved with breathing, lifting the soft palate, and relaxing the rest of the body. That goes for singers of any level. If I go on vacation for two weeks, I feel “out of shape” when I come back and try to sing again (I’m sure the same thing can be said of athletes).

Remember, even on those busy days, make sure to do something. As with physical exercise, even a 10-minute warm-up session each day is a lot better than nothing. If you have a commute, you can warm up in the car; if not, ask your voice teacher for a few quiet exercises that you can do while you are get ready in the morning.

– Do Not Practice for Too Long: Other instrumentalists can get away with practicing for hours and hours. Not us. Aim for anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes each day. Stop practicing as soon as you feel vocally fatigued (ideally before). As you get better, your stamina may increase, but it will change every day because of factors like how much sleep you got, allergies, and the like. Always pay attention to your body and listen to what it has to say!

– Practice Singing Healthfully: Singing healthfully – or singing without unnecessary tension or effort – is the main skill that will increase your stamina. Singing well involves the breath, the resonators of the upper face, and the muscles that you use to speak (in the lips, tongue, and jaw). Try looking at yourself in the mirror to make sure you aren’t doing any extra work. Are your shoulders raised? Does your neck look tense? Practicing relaxing while you sing not only feels good, it helps you to increase your stamina so that you can perform for longer periods of time.

The voice, just like other instruments, requires regular practice to master. By practicing the right things every day and not overdoing it, you can improve your vocal ability and stamina. It’s a simple way to improve your singing, and as you get better, you will find that it becomes easier and easier!

ElainaElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!


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