Tips On Singing Practice For Beginners
by Katie Green, Sono School Of Music
To become a better singer and advance in vocal ability, it is important to practice CONSISTENTLY and EFFECTIVELY, especially in the early stages of singing because your vocal muscles and voice are still developing. Many beginners are not sure how to approach their singing practice, so here are a few tips to help!
How long should I practice for?
Vocalists who are serious about singing will benefit from having more 20 minute practices rather than less practices of longer duration each week. Not only will the content in your practices be more memorable for your next singing lesson, if this is the case, your voice will also become used to the routine, which will increase your vocal stamina. As you learn more and more material, practices will need to become longer as more content is covered.
What do I need for my practice?
It is sometimes hard to determine what notes to sing without a backing track, especially when you’re warming up. It is a good idea to learn some basic exercises on the piano that you can sing along to and warm up your voice. If you take singing lessons, perhaps ask your singing teacher to show you some simple warm up exercises on the piano. If your singing teacher doesn’t play piano or you don’t own a piano or keyboard at home, try using a pitch pipe. This adjustable device is a whistle-like instrument you blow into to sound a note. Use it to give you a starting note that you can work with while you warm up. Also, if you’re having trouble singing a note, adjust the pitch pipe to play that note, match your voice with it and continue. You can also use it to ensure you’re still on target.
Note: A smart phone also provides a keyboard application you can use instead of a pitch pipe.
If possible, aim to rehearse in front of a mirror as often as possible during your practice sessions. This way you are aware of how you perform and you can look out for any elements that need to be improved on, for example watching your shoulders when you breathe, facial expressions, posture, body language, etc.
A metronome is a ticking device that ensures you stay at the same speed or tempo when you practice. Without realising, singers slow down when they reach a hard section of a song or exercise, but it is important to keep the same tempo, and a metronome prevents you from falling behind. Use it to make sure you sing right on the beat. If you do not own a metronome, you can use a clock as a substitute and sing along to its ticking. Smart phones also provide you with a metronome application you can use as well.
Recording yourself so you can listen back is the best way to get an accurate sense of how you sound. There are many fantastic portable recording devices available today which have inbuilt condenser microphones and achieve good quality sound recording.
What should I cover in my practice sessions?
If you’re taking singing lessons, it is a good idea to structure your practices so that you are not only studying new material, but revising previous work so it is not forgotten. Whether or not this is the case, make sure to use the first 5-10 minutes warming up your voice before singing. Practicing every day without warming up will eventually lead to vocal strain, which is very inconvenient when you’re having frequent practices. After warming up the voice you are then free to practice your favourite songs or any content you have worked through in your singing lessons, making sure to fix mistakes by running them over and over again until you get it right a few times. If you have a bit of extra time, it might be a good idea to practice new material for your next lesson so that the time is used more productively.
Log what you practice!
If you’re taking singing lessons, make sure you write down everything you practice for each session. This way you can refer back to it in your singing lesson, or even just let your singing teacher know what you focussed on.