Healthy Practice: Tips on how to get the most out of your practice time
1.) Stretch and Warm Up DAILY
It is recommended that vocalists, well, vocalize for at least 10-25 minutes each day to keep their instrument in consistent health. Karolyn has given many fine vocal exercises to each of us to warm and stretch our voices, improve our breath, and clarify our vowels and intonation.
2.) Organize your practice sessions
Most musicians will sit down in a practice room and work through one piece or one phrase over, and over, and over again until it has reached perfection in one sitting. It makes sense to practice this way, but there is a better way to organize that valuable practice room time. When we sing or play a phrase over and over, our brains become bored with the repetition-- we are no longer engaged in the music being made. And more often than not, the next time a musician will sit down in a practice room, all of that hard work will seem to have disappeared overnight. No wonder practicing can be such a drag!
Instead, select 2-3 phrases from 2-3 songs you are working on, and practice each of those selections for only a few minutes at a time, jumping around to each song. A general example of how you could break that practice time down:
3 minutes- Phrase A
3 minutes-Phrase B
3 minutes-Phrase C
3 minutes-Phrase B
3 minutes- Phrase A
3 minutes- Phrase C
This type of practicing style allows your brain, and therefore your instrument, to remain continually engaged. Not only does an engaged brain make practicing more fun, an engaged brain is more likely to process and retain all of the progress that was made, paving the way for even more progress to be made through the following practice sessions.
3.)Track your Progress
In order to keep your focus and motivation going, you need to know where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go. In order to keep improving, we need to find a way to track our progress and reflect on how to keep moving forward. Ideas for this include:
-We must use our practice time wisely. Unlike other instrumentalists, we can’t be working in the practice room for hours on end. Our instruments, though powerful, are exceedingly delicate. Listen to your body, pay attention to your instrument, rest when it is feeling tired. Arguably, the most important practice we perform is that of self-care.
-So much of a vocalist’s practicing doesn’t involve any vocalizing at all! We listen to other artists’ recordings. We write out and speak through the diction of a piece. We research the music; the story behind the piece, the character we are trying to portray, the meaning behind the poetry. We think through the performance choices we want to make to connect with our audience. These practices give our singing so much more depth and meaning.
Hopefully these tips will help your personal practice sessions. Now, go practice!
A Very Important Date…
Performers and audience members! Mark your calendars! We will be having our Opera & Musical Theatre review the weekend of May 19th. We are honored to be working with the incredible Jane MacQueen as our accompanist for this performance. Details on time and venue will come soon!
Student Spotlight: Amelia Carson
A student at the Denver School of the Arts, Amelia is a young woman with a fiery passion for music and performance. Her choral experience includes her participation in both City Wide and All State Middle School Honor choirs, and is currently a member of the choral group Allegro Voce at DSA. Amelia has had the pleasure of taking part in summer performance programs with the Manhattan School of Music (Margot in Legally Blonde, Jr. and Ensemble in Into the Woods, Jr.) and Berklee College of Music. With The Studio School in Northglenn, Amelia performed in such roles as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls, Jr. and Mama Bear in Shrek, Jr., to name a few. Aside from her already vast music and performance experience, Amelia is also the president and sole proprietor of Clef Candies, where she works in partnership with Hammonds Candies, distributing their delectable treats to finance summer music and education opportunities. We are absolutely delighted to welcome Amelia to our Voices Unlimited family!
A thought on Music:
“Every day, you wake up, you thank God for the gift you have been given, and you go to work”
-Dr. Robert McIver, Eastman School of Music, in regards to practicing.