You have just finished a lesson, and you are excited and encouraged to make progress for next week’s lesson. What do you do now?
I tell my student’s to practice just ten minutes a day. Unless you are specifically trying to get a piece of music learned and you need to sit and “plunk” out notes, which can take a while, there isn’t a huge need to sit and sing and sing and sing. It actually can be a detriment to your voice.
When I am practicing between lessons, much of what I do is silent; I am a thoughtful singer. I go over and over what we have done in my lesson, in my head, re-tracking the map we have created, seeing if I can recreate the space or shapes internally. I do this a lot throughout the day- doing the dishes, driving, working on my computer; Silent, yet active.
When I actually sit down to sing, it is often with a specific piece I am working on, and in short spurts of time. I add sound to the internal, silent work I was doing throughout the day. The key is to make sure I am being as close to 100% technically accurate as possible. If I am having a “good” singing day, achieving technical successes, I run with it- take it while I have it! On other days, when I just don’t seem to be getting that piece of technique correctly, I stop and walk away. Often, if I am not getting something, the more I sing the worse it gets. It is better to walk away and then come back and try again later; I let myself really digest what was happening right/wrong and come back with more knowledge than before.
When you practice, you are effecting muscle memory. Part of practicing is about building new muscle memory, and part of it is about getting rid of old, incorrect muscle memory. When you work in smaller lengths of time, you are more likely to make changes to your muscle memory in the right way, and less like to go too far in the wrong direction if you are struggling to “get” something. Being mindful is what it’s all about. Be a “thoughtful” singer. Try not to listen too much- things sound different inside our heads than what it sounds like from the outside. Record yourself and listen to the differences from one minute to the next. Make changes and check your recordings again.
When you show up to your next lesson, you can come in with concrete information for your teacher [ I was struggling with this… This kept happening… I just couldn’t get this… When I did this, this happened… ]. Having real intelligent and thoughtful information for your teacher is the best way to start a lesson! Your teacher will thank you.
Now go… practice thoughtfully!
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