vocal exercises and training

We have all been told it takes practice to get good at things, but often what people are not told is the type of practice matters more than the amount of practice. Some people do not realize that the wrong kinds of practice can hinder your progress. I am sure many of you have practiced a song, but instead of feeling it improve, you felt the tension build and the song become more of a struggle as your voice fatigues. That is not efficient practice.

So what is efficient practice?
Efficient practice is the slow isolation of vocal skills that build strength and coordination in the vocal instrument to improve its use.

Efficient practice is NOT…
– Performing
– Aiming to sound great
– Just singing some scales
– Pushing your voice hard

What are the benefits of efficient practice?
Practice makes permanent not perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Practice builds neural pathways which increase ability. Practice increases confidence and the ability to let go on stage and perform without worrying about ‘hitting’ notes. Regular effective practice minimises the risk of vocal injury/damage.

What to practice to be practicing efficiently:
Every singer has different needs depending on where they are and what their goals are but the following are things I believe EVERY singer should be working on/watching out for:

– Body posture balance
– Deep controlled Breathing and expansion
– Lower body connection
– Eliminating negative tensions – Ie tongue,neck,jaw,solar plexus
– Developing resonance via open space (soft palate/tongue/jaw/pharynx relationship)

A great way to break down practice would be as follows:
– Vocal Warmup – Whole body stretching
– Breath control/lower body expansion/lower body connection
– Vocal exercises with scales and slides (with a focus on correct sensations NOT pleasing internal sound)

Working through songs
– Isolating specific lines that give troubles
– Incorporating vocal exercises in place of lyrics temporarily to improve song lines.
– Working on dynamics and expression once the technical side is solid.

How long should practice be?
This depends on factors of concentration and stamina but generally speaking shorter sessions will be better for many. It is far better to practice for shorter periods with more efficiency and concentration then to practice for hours inefficiently. Practice is an individual thing and people will approach it differently, but I believe the core concepts shared here are things that every single singer should be mindful of in their practice times.

Remember, above all, practice is less about the time spent and more about the quality of practice. If you are not getting as much out of your practice time as you would like I suggest you re-evaluate your practice times and see if you can practice more efficiently.

Happy singing!