The ideal practice session defers day to day depending on what I want to accomplish. It can be as quick as 15 mins of vocal study of an artist with 100% focus. I gain knowledge or coordination in that few mins of intense focus on what I am trying to learn from the artist. Me being distracted would be fixating on what is not my objective for the task.
Everyone values honesty because we hate being kept from the truth as it prevents us from having the best information to make better decisions. What I realised is that we lie to ourselves all the time. I would tell myself that I would complete a task and never get it done because I would always end up doing something else. Learning a song, for example, never getting around to it. We sometimes become too ambitious with our vocal goals and feel demotivated even before giving ourselves a real shot. So what kind of vocal goals should we have?
Sing the whole song "Emotion" by Mariah Carey
Sing the song and practice till I can hit all the notes starting from the top!
Map the song and underline the parts I struggle with
Breakdown the song into smaller sections of Easy, Medium, Hard
Start with the medium difficulty sections- What is causing me to struggle in this part of the song?
spend 20 mins on it and rest
Practising might not even mean I would need to sing. It consists of working towards improving the way I sing. Being self-aware is very necessary for knowing what you need to work on without chasing your tail. Ask the right questions to achieve it. At this point, a vocal coach would be very useful in guiding you with your goals, serving as a listening ear, giving you immediate feedback and optimising your learning curve.
There are so many other things many don't realise they need to work on. Because our voice is tethered to our mind, soul and body we need to practice syncing all of them to work at the same time and it is not as easy as telling your body what it needs to do. It is to believe what you are saying and trust the body of its capabilities.
Have a look at the slides and let me know if you have ever thought about including the mind, body and heart in your vocal practice?
What does your Ideal Practice look like? Here are some things you can do more research on or ask your vocal coach to help you with identifying certain issues you might want to focus on.
What is involved in vocal production? (Mind) Three important things to find out about before singing: What is engaged in vocal support, why do we need cord closure and how do we train to hear and feel better vowel placement? Eg. There are so many muscles involved with vocal production. The more obvious ones are your resonators. If you are unaware of the existence of resonators then probably you aren't aware of using them with intention, you could probably start there.
How much control do I have over these muscles needed for vocal production? (Body) This does not happen overnight, nor does it happen with a vocal exercise. It is a constant exploration of how your body feels versus making your body do things. Having a coach might be much easier for someone without much self-awareness but it is possible without the extra help. Just know that it will take much more time and communication between your body and your mind. Knowing what you want is extremely important if you are doing this by yourself and with a coach. A coach can guide you if there are missing steps before you learn how to get there, and without a coach you try a few times and then figure out that maybe you are missing a few steps, figure out what the steps are before you get there. Earlier on stage, I would recommend a coach to get to what you need to know first then with accountability or practice if you have the discipline, you can let your coach know to give you more time in between the sessions so you can go try it out for yourself. That way you can save more money and maximise your sessions with your coach.
Are you conscious about what you are thinking about when you sing? (Soul) Why is it important to know what you are thinking about when singing? Your voice reflects what you are thinking about. If you are scared, it comes out scared. If you are thinking of memory that means something to you, there is a certain feeling that is captured and shown in your voice. If hitting a note is all you think about then that is all the song is going to be. Why are you singing this particular song? What stood out for you? Why does it resonate with you? Vulnerability and being as pure or genuine is what makes the singer desirable. No one wants to hear a bad liar, same with singers. We want to hear something believable or relatable. How are your skills when it comes to being in touch with your emotions? How well are you able to sell it to yourself?
With all of these areas to look into, there will be so many ways in which your ideal practice may form. Take time to tweak the way you feels what works for you. You know yourself the best, make up a plan, try it out and don't pass judgement too early. Allow yourself to make decisions about what works and what does not.
Have a crack at it and let me know in the comments below some struggles you faced and I would love to help you out!