I remember taking my sight reading book with me to my grandmother’s house and listening to the practice tracks on my iPod. I wanted to make the All-State choir so bad, and that year it paid off: I was first chair at area!
As much as we want you to enjoy your break from school, it is so important to continue to practice regularly because, if we are being honest, many of those competing at Area will not utilize this time, and their audition will suffer! Even if its 2-3 days a week, practicing a few times weekly still keeps your mind fresh on your music, heading toward your goal of making the choir.
Stay Healthy: Continue to get enough sleep and use your voice in a smart way (this can include: no screaming or speaking too low in your range– always speak with head voice in mind). Other tips to staying healthy include: taking your daily vitamins, eating healthy food, and, exercising regularly. Try to avoid getting on to a weird sleeping schedule… don’t start staying up until 2 AM and sleeping until noon…it takes several days to recover from that!
Smart Practice: Make sure you are getting to ALL of your area music in a given week. WE typically see two and sometimes three of the pieces auditioned, so do not neglect any individual piece, thinking it will not be auditioned. Practice all of your music in sections, never run through the entire piece top to bottom– this only engrains bad habits. Stop and start and make goals for each session and piece. Keep a practice log/journal.
Read our post on smart practicing by clicking here: Do you even practice, bro?
Voice Lessons: If you study with a private voice teacher during the school year, try your best to see them for at least one session during the break. Taking a lesson or two helps you check in on all music to fix problem spots, add/change breaths, and sightread with immediate feedback. While you’re rested, your teacher will really be able to push you in your lessons. And they will of course remind you about vocal technique and keep you accountable in your practice.
Warming up and sight-reading: I encourage all of my students to warm up before each practice session. This helps create good habits for your muscle memory and set you up to sing your best during your session.
Do not forget that sight-reading counts for 20% of your score and can make the difference in your area audition. Every day you practice should include one eight measure exercise with 30 seconds of practice time.
You’re probably a very good sight reader, but at this point, the practice is more about making the process feel automatic than getting to be a better sight reader. In the same way you take an SAT practice test to get a feel for how the day of the test will go, a regimented Sight Reading practice will make you an expert on that most-important minute of your life.
If you’re traveling over break
If you want to make the choir you will not let this get in your way! Find a way to hide away and practice, study silently, or mark up and study your music. Listen back to voice lessons or sectionals (you record those, right?) or re-read some of our blogs. You can even use this time to start visualizing your audition, training your innermost thought toward positivity, and practicing some self-affirmation.
In short: do NOT get out of shape! Would you take two weeks off before running a marathon? Uh, no! I can promise you that there is someone out there who you are about to compete against who is practicing as you read this.
Keep practicing. Every. Day. You can do this!