My mamma didn’t raise a princess. She trained a valkyrie. A princess does not have to work to get what she wants. A princess abstains from battle. A valkyrie does not. We did not wake up today to be mediocre. Let’s get to work. No matter the day, we have practice to do. We do not want traditional, boring practice. We do want valkyrie training.
Your Day 13 Challenge is to Write Down Your Valkyrie Training Best Practices.
Nothing will make you feel better than doing the work. But, what’s wrong with traditional practicing? A smattering of tired warm-up exercises, singing repertoire over and over, stumble, repeat. Then, give up when you need to move on to something else wanting to pull your hair out. Frustrated. Feeling defeated. This is a waste of your time and ruins your technique.
Singing Best Practices
For this exercise, let’s assume that you have 45 minutes blocked off everyday. Here’s your hit list:
10 Minutes: Warm-Up
- Get your voice ready to sing. Make a list of your go-to warm ups. I like to start each practice session with the exact same warm up which helps “ritualize” practice. It puts me in the singing mindset immediately. After that, start adding new ones. It is important that we pick warm ups that extend beyond the five or so we remember from our last voice teacher…
- The warm up is our chance to turn our attention inward and do an inventory of what we’re sensing and feeling. How does it feel to move through passaggio today? Am I noticing fatigue in the vocal cords? Could I be taking a more relaxed breath? Do a full inventory before moving on.
10 Minutes: Technique/Sightreading/Theory
- Once you’ve done your inventory during the quick warm-up, then it is time to focus on your technique. You can continue with specific warm ups that target the technical concept on which you’re working. Did you know the Giuseppe Concone Leçons are on IMSLP? As is, the Matilde Marchesi Art du chant. Use these resources to broaden your technique exercises and identify where your technique may need improvement.
- Sightreading is a wildly important skill as a singer. You must be able to learn music quickly and high level sightreading is the number one way to do that. Grab those Robert W. Ottman books you threw in a corner after aural skills class and get to gettin’. Or if you have a hymnal close by, try sightreading through the various vocal lines. I’m a huge fan of fixed and movable do solfege (and I even love the hand signs.) However, you can sing it on scale degrees, neutral vowels, and even letter names as long as you just do it! Also, let this be a reminder to get away from the piano as much as possible.
- Practicing theory is a good segue into our repertoire. Open your songs and arias and do some work identifying keys, clapping and counting rhythms out loud (seriously, everyone will thank you), drilling intervals, and truly just learning the musical framework and patterns that make up our pieces.
20 Minutes: Must-Do Repertoire
- The idea of this hit list is to set our minds on supernatural technique early and then continuously apply it throughout the practice session. After we have spent time on our musical understanding of the piece we can turn our attention to additional concerns like the finer points of the text, musicianship, and characterization.
5 Minutes: Free Sing
- This is an important step for each practice session. Have a stack of music nearby that is your “free sing” music. This is not the repertoire that you absolutely have to have ready for that gig in two weeks. This is the music you just want to get to know. This music should expand your understanding of composers, time periods, styles, and more. Let these 7 minutes of your day be about exploration, curiosity, and being a more well-rounded musician.
BONUS 1 Minute: Make Your ‘5 Minute Hit List’
- Really want to see your productivity in practice skyrocket? I got this tip from the extraordinary pianist and wonderful soul Holly Roadfeldt: Have a 5 minute practice hit list. Write down specific, mini practice suggestions for your repertoire that you can do in 5 minutes. Walking by your Diva Batcave? Got 5 minutes? You could speak the text in that difficult patter section. You could practice that difficult descending interval 12 times. The list goes on. Come up with your own and reap the benefits.
The reward for work well done is the ability to do more. Prepare yourself for success by putting in the work in the practice room. It will only help you. No matter how your day is going, a positive practice session can make everything a little rosier. Valkyrie bootcamp is on.
Are You on Twitter?
Let’s tweet up a storm together! You can find me at @mezzoihnen. You can tell me how your #29DTD process is going. Or, just tell me what you’re practicing today. Wanting to connect with more music friends on Twitter? Just ask. I’m happy to point you to lists, hashtags, and more.
In fact, I’ll make it easy for you. Just click the little bird…