Establishing A Regular Practice Routine By Saul Fox, B.M. Voice Performance, M.M. Voice Pedagogy Everyone begins studying voice with the goal of becoming a better singer. But starting voice lessons with a clear understanding of the effort involved will help you to succeed. Improvement requires that students work hard, and attending your lessons regularly is only the beginning of that hard work. This article is a guide to establishing a daily practice routine. Your improvement will be in direct proportion to your efforts in the following areas: Read More Practice Daily – Improvement won’t happen without regular practice. The goal is 7 days each week of focused hard work. Here is the grading scale for practice: Miss 0 days of practice in one week – this is A+ work Miss 1 day of practice in one week – this is A work Miss 2 days of practice in one week – this is B work Miss 3 days of practice in one week – this is C work Miss 4 days of practice in one week – this is D work Miss 5, 6, or 7 days of practice in one week – this is F work Here is how you should practice: Start with 15 – 20 minutes per day. As you experience improvement you may want to add more practice time. Work daily on the exercises you are learning in you lessons. If you are taking private lessons, be sure to record each lesson and sing along with that recording each day. Singing with the recording is the best way to be sure that you are exercising correctly. Take advantage of the guidance you need. If you are taking group lessons record the exercises we do as a group and practice them at home. It is very important that you do the exercises correctly. If you’re unsure about what to do, be sure to ask. If you find it difficult to practice on your own, consider multiple lessons each week. Fox Music offers considerable discounts for the second, third, and fourth group lessons each week. Work daily on learning music. Begin by listening to the song you are working on, on youtube.com, on other listening websites, or on CDs, etc. You could also record the song in your group or private lessons so that you can listen to the recording at home. Listen to the song over and over without singing, 3 or 4 times each day. At first it seems like a lot of repetition, but it really is not much at all. It takes work to be a good singer. Do this every day until you know the song well enough to sing it on your own. Having the words to look at as you practice very is helpful as you learn the song. You can buy the music to your songs if you like, but the words can usually be found for free online. Try lyrics.com or other lyrics websites. Once you know the song well enough to sing it, sing it 2 or 3x each day. Pay attention to where you should breathe. Breathing shouldn’t be haphazard, but rather plan you breaths according to poetic considerations, as well as making sure you have enough air. Mark the breaths in your sheet music or lyric sheet with a pencil so that you always breathe in the same spots. This ‘ is a breath mark. Try to memorize your music. No singer, no matter how great, can do his or her best without memorizing the music. This again, takes a lot of hard work. Start by singing the song several times each day for a week. If the memorization doesn’t come easily, try writing the words over and over again. Repetition is the key. Use your group lessons as an opportunity to build your performance skills. It is great to be a good audience, and you can learn a lot that way – but listening to other students doesn’t help you get rid of stage fright and it won’t help you develop your performance skills. Push through your fear and be ready to volunteer to sing every chance you get. Work on songs at home so that you have something prepared to sing in class. It is difficult to feel comfortable singing in front of others if you are unprepared. If you need help choosing a song be sure to ask. If the song isn’t memorized the first or second time you sing it, that’s ok – Really it is! Don’t let that hold you back. But make it a goal to have the song memorized ASAP. Work toward communicating with your audience – not just singing the song. As your teacher makes suggestions, make mental notes or write down those suggestions, and try to incorporate them in your practice during the week. Next time you come to class do the same song again with those suggestions applied. Recognize that improvement, by definition means change. Embrace the study of traditional singing, if not for its own merits, do it as a means to improve singing in the style of your choice. I promise you it will help more than you realize, but only if you truly commit to work at it. Work hard to conquer psychological barriers to your progress. Many of the sounds we make in order to bring about growth are not aesthetically pleasing, but they are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The more you resist sounding strange, the more you resist your own improvement. Recognize that the study of singing is a long-term undertaking. Think years rather than weeks. Be patient with yourself, and don’t expect instant improvement. Students of singing must constantly fight discouragement. Work on a positive attitude and keep at it over many months. The improvement will become obvious if you don’t give up. It’s not easy, but you can do it.