How to Practice

Sharon Stohrer
Submitted: Tue, November 14, 2017 - 8:49am EST
Suggestions for effective practicing and daily regimen.

PRACTICING

by Sharon L. Stohrer

Daily Regimen:

• Sing when you are fresh and awake—preferably late morning or early afternoon. If practicing follows a full working/study day, see if you can take a brisk walk first or something else that will energize you.

• Do some gentle stretches beforehand. Our bodies are our instruments and they need to be “tuned”. Eat a light meal before you sing. The chewing and swallowing help warm-up the same muscles used for singing.

• Warm up slowly and carefully, looking for the correct coordination rather than a beautiful sound. Be patient and come back to it later on if your voice is not responding.

• If you can, alternate singing with other activities. For example, do about 10 minutes of gentle warm-ups. Then come back to it later and sing for about 20-30 minutes. Avoid long practice sessions until your technique is very solid.

• In all your practicing, no matter what else you are doing, keep a part of your mind focused on what is going on in your body and mind and asking yourself what you need at the moment. This way, your singing will be more integrated, more focused and you’ll be able to catch any strain.

• Take a day off. Like training muscles for athletics, your body will better absorb the new co- ordinations you are learning if given some “down time”.

 

How to Practice:

• It is fruitful to sing new pieces on a vowel (usually AH) for several days or even weeks. That way, you can be attending to posture, starting each phrase from support, being sure to breathe at regular marked places, listening for spin in the tone and legato, tracking resonance, etc. etc!!!! Trying to do all that AND sing words is a recipe for tension and learning things incorrectly.

• While you’re practicing your piece(s) on a vowel, you can also work on the text. If it’s in older English or a foreign language, spend some time speaking it until it rolls off your tongue easily. Then try speaking it as if in a poetry reading or orating as if on stage.

• Next step is to speak the text in rhythm and then chant it on one note. • Occasionally use your practice session as a meditative time. Tune into the body sensations involved in singing, to what your heart is feeling, to the actual vibrations of sound. We take so much in life for granted. Developing this kind of mindfulness and be fun in itself and a tool for developing focus. Focus is what helps most performers overcome any distractions or jitters.

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