To get the most out of your Singer-Athlete workouts, you need to be sure you are practicing effectively…
The Anatomy of a Practice Session
- Begin by warming up your body. What this means and what your body needs will vary from day to day. If you’ve had a stressful day so far, you may need to massage and gently stretch out your neck or back. Shaking out your shoulders and arms can feel good. So can shoulder rolls or neck tilts. It’s best to learn a variety of options and then use what your body tells you it needs each day. Part of what you’re doing here is shedding whatever went on previously in the day to focus your body and mind on the practice session you’re about to begin. This is also a good time to do your palm presses.
- Warm up your voice. It’s best not to stretch cold muscles, so the first part of warming up your voice should focus on easy-going, high-vibration exercises, like humming, lip trills, vocal slides, etc.… Then you want to move into a repetitive vocal warm-up that covers your entire range. I strongly recommend using one that keeps your jaw still as your tongue does the work. This will both stretch and strengthen the muscles of your tongue and throat.
- Work out your voice. Next in your practice routine, there should be a couple of vocal exercise that tackle a goal you’re currently working on vocally. It could be a general goal, like expanding your range, or a specific goal, like an exercise that focuses on your head voice or on nailing pitches. This is where your real progress happens. Song work is where you experience the progress.
- Do your song work. This part may seem easy, but most students practice songs in an inefficient and ineffective way. If you play a song and sing along to it, you ARE singing, but you ARE NOT practicing. Song-work practice should have a specific goal (memorizing lyrics, smoothing out the transition into the chorus, singing the first verse with more feeling, etc…). To achieve whatever the goal is, you’ll need to stop and go back and try different things. Stop, go back, try again. Change up your timing, your pronunciation, whether you use your head voice or not, etc… Experiment to find the best delivery of whatever your focus was for that session. THAT is practicing.
This is the practice format we’ll be following for the remainder of this course and what I recommend as you use the audio library on your own.
Lesson Two Videos:
Lesson 2 Workout:
- Warm up your body: Do side neck tilts, massage the back of your neck, stretch your back. If you don’t know the best way to do these things, research it (YouTube vids, your personal doc, a trainer at your gym).
- Palm Press Audio: This week, see if you can increase your stamina and do two sets of 10 palm presses.
- N Hum Buzz Warm-Up: Be sure the tip of your tongue is only lightly touching the roof of your mouth as you do this.
- La Warm-up: See if you can improve on your ability to keep your jaw completely still this week.
- Ee Ah Slides, Var 1: Last week’s exercise altered slightly with a few added staccato notes before each slide. Give it a listen. You’ll catch on fast!
- Ah Staccato: This is the exercise I walked you through in the How & Why Staccato video. Your long-term goal is to have an ever more focused sound, and clean silences between your sounds.
- Song Work. Take my practice advice to heart as you do your song work. Repeat challenging sections of your song while trying different ways to enhance your delivery. Some things you might try:
- Change how you pronounce a challenging word (or a word on a challenging pitch) to see if it aids in your delivery (more on this later, but give it shot now).
- Go back and forth between singing with the artist and singing to a karaoke track (with and without reading the words). This will test your memory of the lyrics and your confidence with pitches and timing.
- Do your pitches and/or timing seem off in any area? Don’t just let it go. Listen to that section with the singer as much as needed to improve your accuracy.
- As always, regularly check in that you are expanding your ribs. At this early stage, you will forget more than you’ll remember. So, you want to develop the habit of reminding yourself. Don’t underestimate the importance of rib expansion. It’s where your power and ease will come from.