So I’m going to break this down and give you as much information in a simple and straight forward way. First remember that every student is different, so what may works for one singer won’t work for another. It’s also noteworthy to remember that your voice is a human instrument and every day your practice can vary and be completely different. There are so many things that effect your instrument, like stress, hydration, lack of sleep, medications, even foods can effect your vocal folds and effect your practice and ability.
I tell my students it’s not how long you practice, it’s how mindful you are when you practice. I don’t recommend practicing for long segments I think breaking it up into 15 minute segments during the day is the best way to get the most out of your time and voice. I think doing short segments of time helps to avoid fatigue and allows students to be mindful, deliberate and intentional when they are practicing. Paying attention to vowel sounds, shape of tongue, Shape of mouth remember that it’s the little things that make the difference.
I’ll break it down into 5 specific parts.
General Vocal exercises
Sustaining, Balancing and Blending vowels and consonants
Work on a specific song
1. Warm-ups: In general doing warmups should take you anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to get your voice ready for singing. Warm-ups are a lower impact, vowels tend to be more closed (E’s and O’s). This is not the time to sing perfectly or use power. Your goal is to get your vocal folds ready to sing. Think of it like a runner who stretches before they start the run. You are using this time to stretch, open and close your vocal folds and getting the tissue, muscles stretched and ready to sing. Don’t worry about sounding perfect, or worry about breaks in your voice. This is not the time to worry about how you sound! The best warm ups I recommend are lip bubbles, tongue trills, Z’s (Holding the ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ), V’s (holding VVVVVVVVVVVVV), th’s (ththththththththt). Then try taking a regular drinking straw and playing through a straw, like a gazoo. This creates a kind of resistance to the air and sound energy and works like a mini massage for your vocal folds. These warm-ups create a back pressure which is really great for the voice and helps vocal folds resist air and helps you hit those high notes. it will make your voice more agile, less croaky and just lighter to use.
2. General Vocal Exercises: Is the second segment of your practice time.
Start by running up and down scales using more open sounding vowels. Start combining
vowels and consonants. Use glides and sirens, usually a fixed pitch. Then start working
into sustaining and balancing the sounds. Blending, balancing are
3. Sustaining, Balancing and Blending vowels and Consonants: This time is about
blending, balancing and sustaining vowels. Running from one vowel to the next holding one
vowel and blending into another vowel and maintaining balance between the two. If
goes well then you move to the 4th segment of your practice.
4. Power and Belting: During this segment you can start to use your power and work
on belting. The focus is on power. Increase the intensity on the sustains, lean in more, open
vowels more, see if you can keep the balance. Try to extend the upper range and the bottom
range. Do not push and be mindful and aware of what you are doing. Use this segment to
analyze how you sound. Are you hitting your goal. If not then find out what needs to change
and practice with the new change.
5. Work On Specific Song or Music: Time to work on an audition piece, or a song
that you will be performing or recording. Isolate and work on specific sections of the song.
Focus on the problem sections. Maybe it’s just one measure or maybe it’s the chorus, or
the bridge. Work with shifting vowels and voice development. Be methodical and specific
when you are practicing. This is the way to really perfect the music and your voice.
Just a few last things to remember, your warm-ups are the most important segment to do during your practice time. If it is all you can get to, at the very least do your warm-ups. Remember, the more focus you put into your practice, the more you will improve. I hope this helps!