“Practice makes Perfect.”
“You are what you repeatedly do.”
While there is some truth within both of these popular adages, we would argue that Practice makes Permanent, and how WELL you repeatedly do something is the more interesting factor.
Singers who wish to improve, maintain their vocal health, and grow in their artistry absolutely must practice. However, there is one type of practicing that outweighs all the rest: Mindfulness. Singers who simply put in the hours going over and over their scales and their songs may earn the badge of dedication, but here is another adage for you: Work smarter, not harder. By working with your brain and body strategically, given what we know in the era of exercise science and neurology, the modern singer can create truly effective practice routines that will not tire them out mentally or vocally, leaving more time for voice rest and care, and yes, even the fun part– wowing your audience.
Whenever you set out to practice singing, focus on awareness and feeling. As you know, your voice will sound different to you in each unique environment you sing in. This means that listening to yourself can actually be misleading! Instead, trust your body. The comfort level you have within your own body is a great, reliable indicator of how efficiently you are singing. Of course, your ears will always play a part– unless pitch-matching is a challenge for you, your innate musicianship and pitch-matching will be all but impossible to turn off completely, so you can afford to spend your mental energy elsewhere. Focus on even, controlled breathing: can you hear yourself inhale? Are you exhaling evenly across phrases? Try to catch yourself working too hard and find ways to bring in more comfort. Remember, as soon as the excitement of singing in front of a crowd kicks in, you’re likely to become less detail-oriented. Your practice session can be the meditative workout that helps your body stay in control, despite whatever adrenaline spike you might be overcome with during a show. Often, singers report things going differently on stage than they do in the practice room; we would argue this is a result of practicing in the wrong way! By clueing into calm (yes, even for those high-energy numbers!), you’ll learn to stabilize your breath and even slow your heart rate, without sacrificing an emotive, exciting performance. In other words, practicing singing well is often about the INSIDE work, controlling your breath and mindset, even more than it is about the OUTSIDE work, preparing what your audience sees and hears.
This all sums up to the fact that HOW MUCH you practice does not matter as much as HOW and HOW WELL you practice. Truly mindful singing practice may even be more tiring to you in less time than you would have previously spent singing the same song over and over again. True concentration takes a lot of mental energy, but it will save you on vocal stamina– an excellent trade-off for a performer!
Not sure how to create a practice routine that serves your needs? Schedule your complimentary Intro Session today. Meet with a teacher, ask your questions, and learn more about how to become a smarter singer. We would love to help you reach your goals!