Practice, practice, practice!
They say it takes about 10,000 hours to perfect and hone a skill. Instrumentalists have the luxury of practising their instrument for hours on end…singers, don’t. Including diction, actual singing practise and technical work I practice approximately 2-3 hours a day. Out of those 3 hours, I sing for 1-2 hours and that depends on how I feel. Some days I can sing for three hours without stopping but other times I can only sit in a practise room for 30 minutes and then I’m out the door! To me, it’s not about the quantity but it’s more about QUALITY. I’d much rather have 30 minutes of quality practice rather than 2 hours of me procrastinating and doing anything other than actual SINGING. This can also depend on how I’m feeling (if I’m tired I know I’m not going to have a good practise so I aim for 30 minutes and see how I feel afterwards) or how much singing I’m doing in one day (2 hours chorale + 2 hours stagecraft= no practise today!).
On the days that I don’t sing I focus on diction. Diction is especially hard for me as I don’t speak a second language. My goal is sound as realistic as possible and to ensure that a native speaker would understand me! I also focus on making sure I know what each word means, the overall purpose of the piece and what words I should be accenting. I also like to make time to listen to other artist interpretations (only AFTER I have learnt the piece), research the composers, librettist and general information about the song and period that it was from.
I struggle with expression and musicality of pieces, especially when I am performing so I also allocate a time approximately once a week to seriously consider how I will use my body, face and hands to express the music.
I know this all sounds quite intense- and sometimes it is. But once broken down these tasks are quite easy to achieve and I believe they are necessary if I want to succeed as a singer.
P.S I include watching and listening performances as practice! Practising is not just about singing it’s about everything that accompanies singing!