The Importance of Singing Every Day
What happens when we leave a car in the garage for a year? What about going on a run after a long break from exercising? We may find that the car is run down or has trouble starting, or that our body is more tired than when we were running every day. Singing is no different.
One of the hardest parts of singing and performing is that the human voice can be inconsistent. It is not always possible to match the sound that you made the day before or feel the same sensations every time you sing. You may have allergies or a lack of sleep that are affecting your voice. That is perfectly normal.
In many ways, this consistency is gained over time due to practice and gaining familiarity with your instrument. There may still be off days and factors we cannot control, but it will be easier to come back to a sense of normalcy. The best way to begin building this consistency is to sing at least fifteen minutes every day.
You read that correctly: Every day. This is the fastest way to improve your voice and the most important part of practice. Consistency is key. If you begin vocalizing a little every day, once you have an off day you can figure out how to still use your voice efficiently and adjust your technique to assist the voice. Now when an off day comes during an audition or a performance, you know what to do.
As you start making this a daily practice, start small. It is okay to only do fifteen minutes to begin. Most days this will not be the full extent of your practicing and you can work more later on vocalizations or repertoire. The important thing is that you make time every day, especially when you don’t have time to do a full practice session.
One of my favorite things to do every day is straw work. I admire Dr. Titze deeply and have had the chance to talk to him this spring about the importance of singing and vocalizing through a straw. Essentially, using a straw creates back pressure that lets the vocal folds “square up” in order to vibrate the most efficiently that they can. This helps us speak and sing more healthily while working on the technique of breath control.
If not straw work, any semi occluded vocal tract exercise will work well to get the voice going and set up healthy vocal production for the day. Some other examples include a small oo vowel, a voiced consonant like v, or by puffing out the cheeks while letting a small amount of sound escape. Any of these will have the same effect as the straw; the straw is just the easiest to begin with and learn the correct sensation.
My other suggestions for vocalizations would be lip trills and simple five note scales to start. Lip trills are wonderful for breath support, and five note scales can be used with any vowel. This is also a great time to regularly practice exercises that you learned in your lesson. These are meant to be done daily in order to build the skill the exercise focuses on and make a specific technique easier.
It can take more than fifteen minutes to warm up the voice, but there is no harm in working on other exercises after the initial warm up. Take this time every day to do a variety of exercises as well. This includes some faster moving exercises, some sustained exercises, and using a variety of vowels. We want our voices to be flexible and well rounded.
Singing is a balance of thinking and doing. The more you practice and analyze during practice, the more you can rely on your technique to work without thinking during performance. Thus, you can emote more and feel confident in your technique. The biggest advantage we can have is knowledge of our voice and security in how we know it should feel when we sing. Once you know how to find your voice every day, your off days and life challenges will not feel so detrimental to your singing.
I encourage and challenge you to sing at least fifteen minutes every day. Start small and pick a time every day that works for you. You will notice your confidence and skill begin to grow.