Last time, I revisited a blog post I wrote about four years ago. Here is part 2 of that post, focusing on how to practice. Mostly, this is about the practical side of practicing – I am the queen of coming up with excuses, but I find those very things I somehow resisted doing for many years, are the most worth pursuing. I still work on my fear of success everyday, and establishing patterns and a physical environment that supports your desire to practice go a long way in overcoming fear.
Here’s that original post, part 2:
As I mentioned in the teaser to Part 2, you should make every attempt relieve yourself of the burden of expectations when it comes to practicing. It’s true that practicing is meant to engage and improve your skill set, and that without doing some daily practice, you probably won’t achieve your goals. But why expect every day to be filled with some amazing technical revelation or new insight? Have reasonable goals for yourself each day. If you know that Mondays are really busy, try to spend 10-15 minutes in the morning speaking through your text, or something equally simple. If you have time to sing through it later on Monday, well, great! But if not, then at least you’ve already accomplished some small bit of work on your piece. Baby steps will help your overall progress and also make you feel better about getting something done (no matter how small) each day.
Practicing comes in many forms, especially for singers. You can simply speak through your lyrics or text, and that’s practicing. You can then speak it in rhythm. Listening to other examples (on YouTube, Spotify, or Classical Archives, for example) of your piece also counts! Reviewing several other performances of your piece will exercise your ears, and give you plenty of ideas of how to interpret a song or aria. You can also just do some of your warm ups or vocalises. Spending one practice session concentrating solely on technique will help you get to know your own voice. This sounds obvious, but sometimes when you strip away text, melodies, or composers’ rhythms, your voice will reveal itself in a totally different way.
Learning to practice well takes time, thought, realism, and above all, persistence. Stick with it!