How Often Should You Practice Singing?
This is definitely in the TOP 3 singing questions I get asked.
Now, unfortunately for you (and for me), there is no magical formula that works for everyone. I want to offer some guidelines on what I think is a good amount AS LONG AS IT'S SMART PRACTICE (we'll chat about that soon).
But we need to get clear on a few things before you can estimate how much practice you'll need.
WHAT IS YOUR END-GAME-SLAM-DUNK I-NAILED-IT IDEAL OUTCOME?
Why ride the guilt train if you don't need to? It makes me really sad when singers come into my studio and mumble about how they didn't have enough time to practice much and they know they're a bad student/terrible person/insert insult here.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?
This is a super important question to answer (and answer honestly).
If you simply want to learn singing for the pure joy of it and hope it leads to more confidence and a better voice in the shower, practicing for 3 hours a week is not going be of high priority.
If however, you want to write your own music, launch an EP and do gigs on the regular, you're going to need to dedicate more time and energy to your voice and your music.
LET’S DO THIS: Brainstorm what it is that you truly want out of your voice. What is your end game? What level would you be happy with?
HOW QUICKLY DO YOU WANT TO GET THERE?
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How important is it to you that you get your tone right for recording an album? When do you want to be in the studio doing this by?
How important is it that you're able to hit those high notes in the choir? Is there a particular performance you want to have the head voice mastered by?
How important is it to extend your vocal stamina to do a tour and when do you need to leave on this adventure?
WHATEVER YOUR GOAL - WHEN DO YOU WANT THIS TO START HAPPENING FOR YOU?
If you're happy exploring your voice and what it can do at a more leisurely pace because you don't have any performance aspirations, stop beating yourself up for not warming up every day.
If you have specific habits you're wanting to change in your voice in the next 6 - 12 months, you're going to have to make that happen with regular practice. Those muscles don't train themselves out of bad habits, you need to teach them what you want them to do for you!
LET'S DO THIS: Get really honest with yourself. Think about what you wrote down you wanted from your voice and set yourself a realistic timeframe of when you would like this to happen.
This is completely up to you.
Nobody can tell you when you want to perform in front of your friends or organise a karaoke night with work.
Nobody should be telling you when you should aim to hit a top C.
Your voice. Your rules.
WHY DO YOU WANT THAT END RESULT?
This question is a biggie because, depending on the answer, you may reach your goal or get nowhere near it.
What is the driving force behind wanting to do this?
Go deep. Deeper than “I think it’d be fun” or “I’ve always wanted to”. No "I want to be famous" or "I want to be rich" responses either (look deeper into why you want those things: connection, need for approval, etc).
Do you hope it’ll improve your confidence?
Do you want to be able to connect with people going through an emotional time with your music?
Do you want to learn a skill because you find it fascinating and are inspired?
Do you want to write songs and make a difference in people’s lives with your lyrics?
You are very rarely going to jump out of bed with the sun shining and announce that you are 110% excited to practice your scales and go over your breathing exercises.
It just doesn't happen that often.
The kind of deep, slow, precise practice you need to do to get results is not mind-blowingly exciting (except when those results show up and you high five yourself).
LET’S DO THIS: Write down your WHY. What is that driving force that has revved you up about singing? What emotions does it stir up that are POSITIVE?
It’ll be different for everyone because it’s personal. Make sure there’s a deeper reason for doing this that will keep you going when The Bachelor and the couch are calling your name.
That way you’ll be able to use your grit and determination and not get caught up in the “can’t be bothered” emotions of it all. Like Nike says, sometimes you’ve gotta Just Do It.
LET'S DO THIS: Schedule a plan. How often and for how long do you want to practice per week? Put it in your calendar, set an alarm if you need to. Do whatever you can to give yourself the best chance of success.
THE RIGHT KIND OF PRACTICE - DEEP PRACTICE
I mentioned earlier about practicing in the right way, the smart way.
The reason I don't like to give people a set amount of time they should be practicing on X amount of days per week is that I don't know HOW they're practicing and this is much more important.
You can get more out of a deep 10 minute practice session than an hour session without the right focus.
Smaller more frequent chunks of goal orientated FOCUSED practice is much better than singing through a few songs and exercises without any idea of what you're supposed to be changing habits-wise.
If you'd like a free downloadable practice sheet to help you structure your session (plus other goodies) grab your Kickstarter Pack here!
IF YOU'RE AFTER A GUIDELINE:
If you want to make changes to your voice within a few months, practice as often as you can. Every day or every second day. At least 30 minutes is brilliant but schedule what you can.
If you're working on increasing your stamina for regular performances, you'll need to up the length of those sessions.
If you're more relaxed about when you want to make changes, but you'd like to keep seeing semi-regular progress, check in with your voice by practicing 3 - 4 times a week. 20 - 30 minute sessions would be fab, any more is a bonus.
If you're not stressed about your progress and would rather let singing slip in and out of your daily schedule in a more chilled-out haphazard way, twice a week is fine (but you might as well make it worth your while by doing 45 minute sessions).