If you ever want to see steam come out of my ears, come to my studio and listen to me have this oh-so-common conversation with one of my students:
Me: “So how did your practicing go this week?”
Student: “Meh, it was alright.”
Me: “Why just alright? What did you do?”
Student: “Well, in the car on the way to school I sing along to the tracks a little. And like, ALWAYS in the shower. “
*Cue eardrum eruption*
So here’s the question of the day: do you practice? I mean, actively practice? You might be wondering at this point if you even know what that word means….
What is the different between active and passive practice? Passive practice (a.k.a. NOT practice) is what we have already described:
- Listening to the tracks as you do homework
- Singing along with the tracks without your music open
- Singing straight through a song without stopping to fix issues
- Singing without a plan in mind or something specific to work on
The biggest lesson to be learned here is self-control. Have the self control to stop yourself, rewind, and go back to fix something you’re not happy with. Fix it three or four times before moving on. Your reward will be singing through these songs all the way….. once you make it to the All State Choir!
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Active Practicing Dos and Don’ts
- Do: Practice for 25-30 minutes. Because you will be using your time so efficiently, you will not need more time than this. You may practice once in the morning and once at night.
- Do: Practice at least two days a week. This is the BARE minimum! In order to retain information you must repeat it later on. We recommend 5 practice sessions a week.
- Do: Give yourself a day off
- Do: Make a routine and stick to it. That way, your audition will feel routine instead of scary.
- Do: Clear your mind and space of distractions.
- Do: Warm up every time you practice. You will make more progress if you always approach your practice with a warm, healthy voice.
- Do: Sight read!!!
- Do: Have a plan for your time BEFORE you start. Choose one or two small things to master and only work on that.
- Do: Note how and what you practice so that you can keep track of your progress, make goals for future practice sessions, and get better at practicing.
You can download our weekly practice log template HERE.
- Don’t: Practice for longer than 30 minutes. Your vocalism will start to suffer and your brain will stop retaining information.
- Don’t: Assume that any practice is productive. You can teach your body a bad habit easier than a good one, so if you don’t have the time or energy for a mindful, productive practice session then maybe rest is the best thing to do that day.
- Don’t: Insist on perfection in the moment. If you are having trouble mastering a concept, revisit the passage or concept the next day. You’ll be surprised how much your brain has retained.
To sum it up, singers: Practice smarter, not harder! (Well, maybe a little harder :)) You probably just spent a ton of money to go to camp, so NOW is the time to start a routine and build on that information!