Performing & Practicing at Home as a Singer | How Often Should I Practice?
Whether you are an established artist or just starting out, everyone has to practice. By practising at home you can improve your voice, your technique and your performance. Putting in the hours practising will make you a better artist.
How often should you practice at home as a singer? Practice makes perfect, but like everything you can overdo it. You should aim to practice 10 to 20 minutes every day and up to half and hour twice a day if you are preparing for a gig.
Whether you take singing lessons or not, you can improve your singing by practising at home. Practising and performing at home is essential for all singers. But what’s the best way to go about it? How much can you practice without damaging your voice? Will your voice improve if you practice every day? Below we give you all the answers and some key tips to ensure you get the most out of your practice sessions.
Does practicing singing make your voice better?
Yes, your voice will get stronger and your singing will get better if you sing every day. As the musician, Jascha Heifetz said, ‘If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.’
There are no set rules for when and how and how often you should practice as everyone is different. But singers are vocal athletes and you should train in the same way an athlete trains. Lots of short focussed sessions are better than a long gruelling marathon that could damage your voice. Varied and regular practice will build your technique, develop your vocal cords and help train your voice.
But it’s not just about how long you sing for its about what you sing and how you sing it. Also, other voice exercises like reading aloud will improve your singing voice. You should make sure that you get the most benefit out of your practice sessions. You should identify what you want to improve and focus on that aspect alongside your general vocal exercises.
How to practice singing at home for beginners
Can you train your voice?
Yes, you can train your voice through regular practice. Practising every day will improve your vocal range, your vocal strength and your vocal dexterity.
Practising your repertoire will improve your performance. Identifying problem areas and focusing your practice sessions on these areas will improve the quality of your singing.
Once your voice is stonier and more agile you should be able to tailor your practice sessions to train your voice to do things you were not able to do before.
How often should you practice singing?
Should you practice singing at home and how often should you practice? The answer is yes, practising singing at home is certainly something you should do, even if you have singing lessons and you should try and practice every day. Singing is like an exercise from your voice, so doing it right is important.
You should practice every day in small regular sessions and slowly build up your practice. Regular practice is the key to developing your voice, so you should make sure you don’t overdo it and damage your voice.
You should think about keeping a diary of your singing practice so you can monitor how much you are ding and see how you much you improve. But you should also remember it should always be fun, so don’t beat yourself up if you miss a couple of sessions.
Singing practice routine
How long should you practice for each day?
How long should you practice singing for? Normally practice sessions should be about ten to twenty minutes long and if you are really keen you can do this a couple of times a day, increasing to twenty to thirty minutes twice a day in the run-up to a gig.
But it’s not just a matter of the amount of time, it’s what you do with the time. Just like with exercise, you need to warm up and cool down – some simple scales are great for a warm-up.
You should also try and develop a personal vocal workout (you could speak to your singing teacher or other singers about what’s best for your type of singing). Try to record yourself singing and identify the areas where you want to improve. You can then focus on those areas during your practice sessions this will be more challenging and also rewarding as your voice improves.
Remember you don’t need to practice for hours at a time, you will lose focus and get bored and you might even damage your voice. But you do need to practice long enough to warm up your vocal cords.
How can you maintain vocal health?
If you want to maintain vocal health, then firstly you should maintain your general health. Try and do the following: eat well, get enough sleep, only drink alcohol in moderation, don’t take drugs, and especially don’t smoke.
Avoid phonotraumatic activity – that’s a posh way of saying don’t shout or scream too much. Practice your breathing and keep a good posture. And of course, practising singing will help maintain your vocal health, but you have to warm up your vocal cords and don’t overdo it, anything more than an hour of singing at a time is probably too much for your voice.
Like exercise, the trick is to build up your vocal strength, so practising little and often is better than doing a marathon session a couple of times a week. Try and practice every day and then build it up. If you record yourself or keep a singing practice diary, you will see the improvement and also monitor your vocal health.
This is a good short guide to maintaining vocal health. https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/maintaining-vocal-health
What should you sing when you practice?
It’s up to you what you sing, so trying singing things that you like. But also try and push yourself. Pick one of your favourite songs and then change the vocalisation slightly or record yourself and spot where you are weakest and focus on that bit.
You should start off with a scale or an easy song to warm up your vocal cords first. Or you could try some of these useful warm-up techniques.
If you have a singing teacher they will give you tips on songs to practice with or areas to focus on, and its always worth talking to other singers and asking what practice songs they use. If you are preparing for a gig then you should sing the songs you are going to perform, and again you should focus join the bits you find most difficult or need improving.
You must also have fun whilst practising, remember you sing because you love music and singing. Make sure practising doesn’t turn into a chore, even if you are practising for a big gig take a break from practising your technique by singing your favourite song and remember to be easy on yourself.
Where should you practice singing?
Ideally, you want somewhere with little background noise, where you can stand up to optimise your breathing, a studio is great because of the acoustics and the recording equipment. But in reality, we are all busy so if you have to sing in the car, or the kitchen or while doing something else, then that’s fine any practice is good practice
The great thing about your voice is that its always with you and you don’t need any special equipment or even a room! I practice anywhere and everywhere, walking the street, in my room, in the kitchen in the garden with friends. Ideally, you should try and focus when you practice so your room is the perfect location.
But if it’s difficult to find somewhere then you should think about performing at local open mics, or at your school or college, or a community centre or youth club, where there will often be practice rooms you can use for free. Or join a local choir or singing group. Heres a useful list of ways to find a local singing group.
Basically anywhere where you can sing is a good place to practice, but just make sure you aren’t straining your voice by singing squashed under the kitchen table.
Can you sing too much?
Yes, too much of anything is bad and this applies to singing as well. In the same way, an athlete can pull a muscle by over-exercising, singing too much can strain your vocal cords. Don’t overdo your practising and always remember to warm up your vocal cords.
Singing for hours on end can lead to vocal cord swelling. Normally vocal cord damage is temporary and can be repaired but recovery can take up to 12 weeks! This is a useful video telling you how to know if your vocal cords are damaged:
Monitoring how practicing improves your singing
You should record your practice sessions, the easiest way is just to use your phone, so you can listen back and monitor areas of improvement. There are lots of apps that can provide feedback on your singing, try downloading an app like Vanido.
You might also want to keep a singing practice diary. It’s up to you what you write, but it might be useful to note down how the practice went, what you think worked and where our think you need to improve.
You could also note things you want to discuss with your singing teacher.
7 tips to help improve your singing practice
#1 Make sure your posture is right
Keep your back as straight as possible and try not to slouch when you sing so you can maximise your lung capacity and get the best sound of our of your voice. It worth singing in front of a mirror so you can check your posture. You are probably going to be standing up when you do a gig so you should get used to it!
#2 Try singing into a microphone
Learning how to handle a mic will help when you perform, it ill also give you a realistic idea of what your voice will sound like on stage.
#3 Try singing your favourite song in different ways
Find a song you love and then try adding small changes to the performance and see what works best with your voice. This is a good way to explore your vocal range and technique.
#4 Vary the physicality of your singing
Your tongue, nasal passages, diaphragm, and throat all influence your singing voice (just think how different you sound when you have a cold!). So try and see what happens if you move the position or your tongue or make our voice more nasal.
#5 Remember emotion is an important part of singing
Think what a song is about and try injecting different emotions into your singing. The song will sound different depending on the amount and type of emotion you add. And your audience will pick up the emotion in your voice.
#6 Don’t forget to use breathing exercises
Breathing exercise will help your singing and develop your lung capacity and you can do these anywhere and anytime. Here are some really simple breathing exercises for singers http://www.bbc.co.uk/sing/learning/breathing.shtml
#7 Rest your voice
It might sound obvious but you should take a break from singing and if you have flu or a bad cough or cold or if it hurts when you sing. And once you get better, ease yourself back into practice gradually. Singing when you are ill could damage your vocal cords and it is possible to practice too much and you can damage your voice.
Summary of how to practice signing and performing at home
Practising is good and will improve our singing voice, your vocal range, and your vocal stamina, it will also boost your confidence. If you go into an exam knowing the subject with a load of revision under your belt you know you will do well, preparing for singing performances is the same.
The key is to treat singing practice as an exercise for your voice. You should always do a warm-up for your vocal cords. Practice little and often, set yourself goals and keep a diary or recordings of your voice so you can see how much you improve.
You should practice every day and your sessions should be about 10 to 20 minutes but you can do this several times a day if you are preparing for a gig or concert.
And the key thing is to have fun when you practice and not turn singing into a chore.
What is your practice regime? What are the top tips you would like to share with other singers? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!