Singing at Home: Getting the Most out of Your Practice TimeApr 02, 2020
At this point, I think it's fair to say that we're all spending a lot more time at home - and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon. More and more people are looking for new hobbies or picking up old ones. And you know what? It's never been a better time to start singing!
Think about it - you don't need to buy an instrument, you can practice it anywhere and it's a whole lot of fun. Plus, there's a whole myriad of mental health benefits that come from belting out a song. So, with all of us singers suddenly finding a lot more time on our hands, I thought it was time to put together your guide to home singing practice.
What Should You Be Practicing?
Vocal techniques are basically the building blocks of singing. Learning and practicing techniques is the number one thing that's going to improve your voice, which is why it's the number one thing that we should be practicing.
Things like pitch, posture and breathing all come under the banner of techniques. It's also a great idea to continue practicing your techniques through your warm up.
Oh, and on that note, please make sure you warm up your voice before you start practicing any songs. I know it can be tempting to skip the warm up altogether, but it really is an important exercise if you want to keep your voice healthy. (Also, it helps you expand your range and strengthen your voice, and who doesn't want that?)
After you've worked on your technique and warmed up your voice, it's time to get into your songs! It's usually best to pick one song to work on at a time, and move on once you're completely comfortable with the song.
Before you start singing, work out what you want to achieve in your session. Here's a few ideas to try out if you're not sure what to work on;
Get to know the song. Make sure your pitch & rhythm is correct when you sing.
Practice breathing - make sure you're not taking a breath in the middle of words or phrases
Work on a particular section. If the verse is giving you trouble, sing it through a few times.
Mark out the really tricky bits and focus on them
Go karaoke! Get yourself an instrumental track and see if you can sing along without help from the original artist
Once you've worked on your song, it's time to have some fun! Really, just do whatever you feel like. Maybe you'll sing some songs you've learned before, maybe some songs you haven't heard in years. Or you could give the newest song in your playlist a try. Really, the choice is yours.
Singing Practice FAQ's
Alright, let me take you through some of the most common questions I get regarding practice.
Q: How long should I Practice For?
A: However long you can realistically practice for.
I know you expected the answer to be 30 - 60 minutes every day, but let's be realistic here. Not all of us have 60 minutes every day to use for practicing, so just use whatever time you have! You can practice your technique and warm up in just five minutes! If you're short on time, you should be focusing on your techniques and warm up - this is absolutely the fastest way to improve on a limited practice schedule.
Q: Does Singing Along to the Radio Count as Practice?
A: Not really. The best practice is done when you actually have a goal and work towards it. Plus, most of us don't work on technique or warm up our voice before singing along with a radio. You're better off setting aside that five minutes a day and practicing your technique.
Q: I Don't Want to Practice While My Family / Housemates are Around. What Should I Do?
A: Firstly, is there a time when they're not around? If so, make that your practice time. If not, see if you can find somewhere else to practice! Lock yourself in your bedroom, go outside, go to the garage. I once had a student who discovered that here walk-in-wardrobe was completely soundproof, so she made it her practice space. I've also known people to practice singing into their pillows or in their car. Get creative and find something that works for you! (And once you gain more confidence, you can work towards practicing while your family's around.)
Q: My family / housemates are making fun of me / complaining about my singing / laughing at me. What can I do?
A: You have a few options here. You could simply ignore them, ask them to stop or get them to join in and practice with you. If they're saying you sound bad, remember that they're probably being overly critical of your voice (it's quite common!) My personal favourite comeback to 'that sounds terrible' is the following; "If it sounded good, I wouldn't need to practice it."
What Are Some Resources I Can Use to Practice at Home?
Here's the fun part! There's a few great resources you can use for singing practice (or just for fun) - I've listed them below.
For Working on Pitch & Rhythm
Anyone else remember Singstar? It was huge when I was growing up. For those who don't know, it's essentially a playstation game where you sing along with songs into a microphone and you score points for singing on pitch. The beauty of this game was that you could see how close you were to hitting the right notes and whether you were too high or too low. If you've got some old games floating around, then this is a great way to practice your pitch.
Vanido is a free app that claims it'll teach you to sing. It's definitely not going to teach you everything about singing (sorry Vanido) but it's a great little app for getting your pitch together! Similar to Singstar, it gives a visual aid to help you tell if you're on pitch or not. Plus, the exercises are tailored to your vocal range, so you're not going to be singing too high or low.
For Singing Songs
Ever searched the term 'karaoke' on YouTube? You really should! There's millions of different karaoke videos that you could be singing along with! Apple Music and Spotify also have karaoke tracks, but the difference here is that YouTube is a video platform - so it usually has lyrics in the video that you can follow along with.
Smule is a karaoke app that's been around for quite a while. It's free as long as you sing along with someone else (it's not so free if you want to sing solo.) It has a decent song catalogue and can be a lot of fun, but parents take note - Smule offers video recording as part of the experience, so make sure your kids have it turned off if you don't want their face on the internet.
I hope this helps you get the most out of your time at home. If you have any practice questions, feel free to drop them in the comment box below. Have a wonderful time practicing!
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