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how long to practise?

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Benns
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hey guys,

I know practice time is subjective to you and the time you have available but how long would you guys suggest is a decent amount of time to practice exercises, given to me by teacher (say, your have time everyday).? For months, i would practice for at least 2 hrs or sometimes even longer, everyday. And while, i did see good results, it's becoming really tiring and boring. I understand quality is better than quantiy, which is why i am asking you guys, what do you guys recommend is a decent amount of time to practice exercises everyday?

Thanks

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I think Dante and Phil both have great ideas here.

For me, I base my practicing around some fundamental goals that I work around the other variables of life:

1. favor long sessions

2. favor daily practice and have that take higher priority than #1

3. favor taking breaks during the long sessions

It has been working great. These goals are just ways of avoiding a compromised practice experience. For me, when I skip days, or don't do long sessions enough, or don't take breaks during the long sessions, those are the things that seem to compromise my progress. So I just avoid those, and the result is a very effective yet very flexible practice schedule.

The bottom line is that you need to put in the practice time frequently enough to progress at the rate you want. Without it being so ridiculously frequent that your wear out your voice or mind in a way that would slow down your progress. But that's pretty rare since most of us students have so much else we need to do with our lives besides singing, so the recovery time is included naturally.

With that made clear, how you prefer to break up your practice time throughout the week, depends on the person.

BTW by long sessions I don't mean 5-7 hours. At this point in my training I don't think my voice could handle that unless I took a lot of breaks. For me a long session is more like 1-3 hours.

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wow, so many great responses. I used to do them for hours but i would think half of those hours consisted of me doing sloppy technique due to me losing attention after a while. I think i should try and stick to either 13-20 mins or 30. The thing is, that i have edited the quality of the scalee mp3 so that it plays really really ultra slow (so i can pronounce better) which is great but a scale that was originally 2 mins is played for almost 5 mins or so due to the ultra slow settings. Usually, i don't mind practicing for 30 mins straight but recently since i have edited the settings to really ultra slow, even making it 10 mins is so difficult - concentration/attention wise. As you can imagine it takes time for the note stioo hit each other once one note is played. Recently, i have only managed 5 mins (of actual performing the exercises, properly before losing concentration/attention) tbh because of how slow and long the scale is. I really like dante's idea but i find it hard to get back into practising in the same day if i finish my first session and then attemp to get back into it, hours later. It's just not the same, if you get what i mean?

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Great points Dante.

I find it interesting that you guys have to worry about losing focus when you practice...I don't really feel that, at least not as much. Definitely not after 5-10 minutes.

When you lose focus Benns, what do you end up thinking about? Does your mind wander to other topics? Do you get in a vicious cycle of negative thoughts, telling yourself you suck and can't improve? Do you just forget to focus on doing the exercises correctly and just go through them mindlessly? Do you feel impatient about vocalizing and want to get to singing songs already?

Each of those issues has their own unique solution. But my point is, only being able to focus on practicing for 5 minutes is quite a hindrance to your progress and you should try to figure out what you need to do to increase your attention span.

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I actually DO like those long practice sessions and will still do them at times, lol. I just don't like it for a beginner. When you get advanced, long practice sessions are a must; it's the only way you will build up your stamina and ability to focus for long periods of time.

You don't have to spread the sessions hours apart. You can practice for 20 minutes (starting out), then take around a 5-10 minute break, then jump back into another 20 minute session, and keep repeating that process until you don't feel like singing anymore. The thing about spreading out the practice sessions over the day is frequency -- you're giving your neurological system more chances to adapt to the new behavior you want, which equals faster progress. This is especially true with ear training type things. If I'm trying to learn a new melody or scale, I can sit and practice it for 2 hours and nail it, then try it again the next day and can't pull it off anymore. I found that by having multiple mini sessions, I can work it into my system much more quickly. I've found the same is true when trying to learn vocal coordinations.

Also, you should eventually try to work to have your voice in a "ready to sing" state all the time. That might mean changing your day to day speech habits too. I recommend to students to take a song you are working on, and get used to singing it acapella at the drop of a dime. I recommend they do this multiple times per day for weeks until you really start to feel comfortable with the song, and singing the song becomes an ordinary thing like brushing your teeth. I really do this to challenge them, because life isn't always nice to us, giving us ample opportunity to warm up and be properly prepared. You know, sh*t happens. But if you're always ready in spite of that, then you're good. This is basically how I've come to approach my voice. I forced myself to sing just on the spot. It requires a different mindset and approach to singing, and you really have to learn how to turn up your "inner singer" into high gear in 30 seconds or less. It takes time to learn, though, but can be done.

~~Dante~~

Ah, now your approach makes sense. ha, i was under the impression that i should space the sessions within hours apart. I get where you coming from, now., It happens to me sometimes, i would do something right one day and then the next day, i wouldn't be able to do exactly as great as i did it the previous day. My only problem is the new settings of the scale that i am using. Usually, i do the scale at it's normal speed and it's normal speed is 2 min's long. However, due to me having problems with pronunciation, i have decided that i should ultra slow down the scale in order to help make sure that i pronounce each word properly. Now, by setting the scale ultra slow using the vlc player, the scale drags on forever and like takes about 5-7 mins to complete. Now, this is what makes the process so boring and hard for me to concentrate. If you get what i mean..the scales/the notes literally taking forever to come. I mean, it's been great with helping me pronounce properly but getting through this ultra slow scale is very tiring and boring. Usually, with the scale at it's nromal speed, i like to practice the same scale at least 5-7 times but practising this really really really slow scale is like torture haha.

Ahhh, i really like your idea about getting your voice in a "ready to sing" state. I might actually try that, later. Thanks for that!

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Great points Dante.

I find it interesting that you guys have to worry about losing focus when you practice...I don't really feel that, at least not as much. Definitely not after 5-10 minutes.

When you lose focus Benns, what do you end up thinking about? Does your mind wander to other topics? Do you get in a vicious cycle of negative thoughts, telling yourself you suck and can't improve? Do you just forget to focus on doing the exercises correctly and just go through them mindlessly? Do you feel impatient about vocalizing and want to get to singing songs already?

Each of those issues has their own unique solution. But my point is, only being able to focus on practicing for 5 minutes is quite a hindrance to your progress and you should try to figure out what you need to do to increase your attention span.

I don't usually lose focus when practising scales but since i have changed the settings of my usual scale to, ultra ultra slow, i can't help but lose track. When i lose focus, my mind switches to random thoughts. Like thoughts on past events, friends, family etc. Mundane thought like those, really.

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I don't usually lose focus when practising scales but since i have changed the settings of my usual scale to, ultra ultra slow, i can't help but lose track. When i lose focus, my mind switches to random thoughts. Like thoughts on past events, friends, family etc. Mundane thought like those, really.

Well then maybe the scales are too slow.

If you're spending more than a full second on each note it's probably slower than you really need it to be

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Learn to focus. Whether you are doing scales or a song. It is said that Caruso, in whatever exercise or thing he was working on, whether breathing, scales, or a section of an opera, put his entire focus on that.

Do that.

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Also, you should eventually try to work to have your voice in a "ready to sing" state all the time. That might mean changing your day to day speech habits too. I recommend to students to take a song you are working on, and get used to singing it acapella at the drop of a dime. I recommend they do this multiple times per day for weeks until you really start to feel comfortable with the song, and singing the song becomes an ordinary thing like brushing your teeth. I really do this to challenge them, because life isn't always nice to us, giving us ample opportunity to warm up and be properly prepared. You know, sh*t happens. But if you're always ready in spite of that, then you're good. This is basically how I've come to approach my voice. I forced myself to sing just on the spot. It requires a different mindset and approach to singing, and you really have to learn how to turn up your "inner singer" into high gear in 30 seconds or less. It takes time to learn, though, but can be done.

~~Dante~~

Dante - Question: should you be able to jump into a song cold without doing at least one warmup that day?

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depends how difficult the song is for you and depends if you don't mind sounding rough for 1-2 songs if it's difficult. If you're performing, i wouldn't want a rough first impression

I always warm up first. I used to not warm up before a gig, but that was when I was young and stupid. I definitely can start singing an easy song without a warmup and make it sound good. But afterwards I feel all "knotted up" in the throat, and it takes some time to smooth that out. So my rule is to warm up first to avoid that. I just wondering if anyone here jumps into songs with no warmup and has no problems?

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I always warm up first. I used to not warm up before a gig, but that was when I was young and stupid. I definitely can start singing an easy song without a warmup and make it sound good. But afterwards I feel all "knotted up" in the throat, and it takes some time to smooth that out. So my rule is to warm up first to avoid that. I just wondering if anyone here jumps into songs with no warmup and has no problems?

I do. Then, again, I have this deal with Satan to have the "folds of destimy." For which there will be a heavy price to pay.

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How about you Felipe? ;)

I mainly use distributed practice which is also what Dante recommends.

I see. :)

I use 20 or 30 minutes on technical aspects and then singing 2 or 3 songs. From the singing, I plan for the next day. I dont pay much attention to how much time I use, I just make sure that its planned and that I follow it.

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depends how difficult the song is for you and depends if you don't mind sounding rough for 1-2 songs if it's difficult. If you're performing, i wouldn't want a rough first impression

If you study the song really well, it will be really hard for you to mess it up, and yes you can take songs to a state were its easy as breathing.

Even so, you should not do it. It does not matter if you can, warm up.

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I think maybe it would be better to ask "...jumps into DIFFICULT songs with no warmup" difficult being relative to each singer of course.

That would be a good question - I can't jump into a difficult song and make it sound good.

The other question I have is does anyone feel knotted up in the larynx after attempting to sing with no warmup?

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That would be a good question - I can't jump into a difficult song and make it sound good.

The other question I have is does anyone feel knotted up in the larynx after attempting to sing with no warmup?

I don't feel that when I sing with no warmup. For me warming up is less about keeping from hurting myself and more about sorting out the passaggio and preventing any spontaneous voice cracks. However in situations where the accompaniment is loud and I'm not, if I didn't warm up chances are I will push too hard and just shout, and there will be longevity/consistency issues too.

I will find that with no warmup I have trouble singing difficult songs unless I have recently practiced them a lot. But easier songs, no problem.

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I sing all day and take a break when my ears start ringing or I get bored. I have a job now, so of course, I have some time to rest up.

I don't warm up. I just start with an easy song. I've been going with New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle lately since that seems to produce good results and technique to start everything right. It's a nice thick voice with a good amount of HF energy and it doesn't need to be pushed hard at all.

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I think Felipe has it right, again. It's not a number of minutes, or hours. It is having planned what you are going to do and then do it, regardless of time. There is no magic number of hours, no magic number of scale reps. It is about concentrating on what you are doing and letting that become the habit.

I still work on that, myself. It can be easy to forget proper vowels and slip into "speach" vowels and throw myself off the path.

It's a never-ending process. Get used to it, love it, like it. We are all continually progressing.

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