One of the first questions that many students ask is, “How much practice do I need to do?” We have all heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Actually, practicing the right thing makes perfect...if you practice the wrong thing you make a mess! So how much practice is enough to develop your voice in a consistent and healthy manner? I’m glad you asked that question.
As many of my students have heard me say, ‘singers are vocal athletes’. Like other athletes, we need to train our bodies to behave in a particular manner. The development of muscle memory within the voice takes a considerable length of time...some would even suggest a lifetime given the differing developmental stages experienced throughout a singers life. As with most things consistency and moderation is the key. I remember one day during my studies at the Queensland Conservatorium I had found a fresh zeal towards my vocal practice.
This enthusiasm, teamed with an available practice room (which in those days was a rarity at the Con) saw me launch into a 2 hour singing practice with no caution shown towards my voices ability to sustain such. Needless to say, the next day I woke up with a pretty sore voice. I had overdone it! I had not worked my vocal stamina to the point that my voice could carry a 2hr practice session and I paid the price.
When developing a practice regime start off with small amounts and build it up slowly. For my singing students I recommend the following:
- Practice every second day – you are not learning the piano. Your voice needs rest periods so that the muscles can repair and respond.
- Start with about 20mins – by combining 10mins of vocal exercises and 10mins of repertoire practice you should develop a balanced vocal workout program
- Slowly increase your practice time – I recommend increasing the practice time by 5mins every two weeks, maintaining the balance between exercises and singing through your songs.
- Only practice for about 45 – 60mins max – depending on your individual voice you may be able to do more, conversely you may have to settle for less.
- Create a dedicated practice space – To help form a regular practice time I recommend students have a place in their home that is both private and good for singing...try to remove any distractions!
Students who consistently practice generally gain greater levels of momentum in their vocal development, and while ‘practice doesn’t make perfect’ it certainly goes a long way towards healthy and skilled singing.At Voice Loop, we graciously thank Dr Dan for allowing us to share his vast knowledge with our audience.
A link to the original article (and many more that delve deeper into the world of vocal care) can be found here: http://www.djarts.com.au/articles/perfect-practice/