In our crazy, fast-paced, over-stimulated world, how to find the time to practice is one of the most common challenges facing any singer. With so many things pulling on us in so many directions— family, work, social obligations, and that ever-present cell phone beeping and ringing away, how do you find the time to really hunker down and practice? Let me give you a few practical suggestions for How to Find Time to Practice Singing– Even When You Don’t Have Time!
First, plan your practice week out in advance. Sit down on a Sunday evening, or whatever day and time works for you, and take out a calendar.
It can be an “old-school” paper calendar (my personal favorite) with at least an entire week visible at one time. Or, it can be an electronic version on your phone, tablet or desktop computer. Whichever you prefer, look at each day of that week that you want to practice, and schedule an appointment for yourself, just as if you were going to the doctor or getting a haircut. In a perfect world, we would all practice everyday, but if
you can try to get 4-5 practice sessions every week, that would be terrific! And, if you use an electronic calendar, set the alarm for when it’s time to practice. That’s just another push to help you remember.
Spread out the practice appointments if possible. This will depend a lot on your personal life schedule, but I like the idea of practicing every other day at minimum. That way, you are building your own level of consistency, and yet it will give you some vocal rest in between, as well as make it feel more fresh and motivating each time, if you aren’t bumping up those practice sessions right next to each other. But, if your schedule is such that you may have to do a few days in a row and then skip a day or two, do what you have to do! The point is to come up with a schedule that works with your normal routine. That way, you are more likely to keep those appointments with yourself and stick to it!
Frequency counts more than duration. The one thing you don’t want to do is not practice all week, and then try to power out a huge practice all at once on the weekend. Especially in the beginning of your vocal studies, this is a recipe for straining your voice. Even if the practices are as short as 15-20 minutes each time, doing them more often will program in the neuro-muscular coordination needed for good singing faster than doing it once a week, weekend-warrior style!
Find a good place to practice. This is super-important! Without a “safe” place for you to sing out and really do what you need to for practicing, this one thing can really keep you from developing a consistent practice routine. If you can practice at home, whether it’s a house, apartment or condo, great! Just try to do it when others are not home (if you share walls, be mindful of the neighbors, too), so you can really sing comfortably. Not only do you not want to disturb others, but you don’t want to feel tense or uncomfortable, worrying that others may be listening and judging you.
If you don’t have a place at home to practice, then you have to get creative about finding one. There are lots of good options! Go out to the garage, if you have one, and sing there. If you live in a community where there is a clubhouse or recreation center, perhaps you can arrange to use that. Take a class at a local community college, where practice rooms are available to students for many hours a day. Maybe your church can provide you with a room, or you have a friend that has a spot you can use. Recording studios rent out space on their off hours for a fraction of what they charge during peak times. If you can afford it, don’t be afraid to spend a little money if you have to. This is an investment in your singing future, and will pay off big-time! Think outside the box, and I know you’ll be able to find a place (or even a combination of different locations) to practice regularly.
Turn off the TV. Really take stock of how many hours you spend mindlessly zoning out in front of the television. We all need to do it at times, especially after a long, hard day at work, but you will probably be surprised at how much time you can save by just skipping one hour, or even just a half hour of TV-watching in favor of doing something more useful— like practicing your singing!
Turn off the electronics (or at least silence them!). We are becoming a world of “phone zombies” as I call them. Go anywhere, any time, even out in nature, where you’re supposed to be enjoying the Great Outdoors, and what do you see? Phone zombies! People looking at their phones to the exclusion of anything else going on around them. Pseudo-life, lived through an electronic device, instead of real life. All they have to do is put it away and look around them! Don’t let your electronics steal your valuable time. Facebook and other social media, computer games, and all the marvels of the Internet are not more important than you finding time to practice. Put it all away, at least for a half an hour or an hour each day, and you’ll be amazed at how you suddenly have time to practice!
Get up early. I know, I hate this one, too. But I have to tell you, this is a
great metaphor for anything you want to accomplish in life. The early bird really does catch the worm! If you can get up a little earlier, you will suddenly have found time to sing, exercise, write, or do anything else that just gets away from you once your normal day starts.
Sing in the shower. Seriously. This is a great place to sing, because of the warm, moist air you are breathing with the water running, and let’s face it, the bathroom has great acoustics! (I’ve even done recording sessions in bathrooms!). You have to be in there for a while, so why not do two things at once, and sing while you’re getting squeaky-clean!
Use your drive-time— safely! Many people sing to the radio while driving, so it isn’t too far out to suggest that you turn this into some targeted practice time. A few caveats, though. Do simple breathing exercises (nothing that would make you dizzy!) or vocal exercises like humming, that don’t take too much concentration. Singing songs where you are trying to remember the lyrics and melody takes more brainpower. Your driving comes first!
Also, put a pillow behind your back and make sure you are sitting up
straight. You can’t sing well in “lowrider” position! And, keep the windows closed and turn on the air conditioning (low setting, not blowing directly on you). This will filter out a lot of pollutants from the air, as opposed to driving with the windows open and breathing in exhaust. This will also cut down on road noise, which is an issue while trying to sing in a car. I would keep the session short, and make sure you are not straining your voice to sing over the din of driving on the freeway.
Use your lunch hour. If you get a lunch break at your job, or even shorter coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon, you can use the time to practice. Go out to the parking lot and sit in your car (or even stay outside) and use the time to sing. It’s a great stress-reducer, and you will
feel energized and happier when you go back to work.
During your workout— carefully. Depending on the type of exercise you do and where you do it, it’s possible to practice a little while you are getting in your daily workout. Walking is a perfect time to do some singing! The gentle bounce you get while walking will also help to relieve tension and free the voice as you go. Do keep sipping water, though, so that you don’t get dehydrated.
Singing while holding some simple yoga poses could be another way to incorporate some practicing during exercise time (assuming you’re not in a class and won’t bother anyone). But, don’t exercise while doing heavy, strenuous exercise! The exertion will make your body too tired to support your voice, and you will wind up pushing from your throat.
Stay up late. This is definitely not as good as getting up early, but if you’re a night owl, this could be a useful way to stretch your schedule to fit in some singing practice. Just be mindful of other people trying to sleep, if that is an issue in your living situation.
Take advantage of “AAA”. AAA means any place, anywhere, anytime.
In other words, whenever you find yourself with a few extra minutes and
a place where you can do it, start singing! Almost none of us have our very own music conservatory in our home, complete with a grand piano, candelabra, and an accompanist waiting to play for us. The rest of us mere mortals have to do what we have to do to get in our singing time, so be opportunistic! If you have to sing while doing the laundry or changing the spark plugs in your car, do it! It will all add up, especially in addition to your regularly-scheduled appointments that you are (hopefully) keeping with yourself.
So there you have it. Every week you schedule your appointments, you find a place (or places) to sing, and you take advantage of extra time that may present itself as well. With a little effort and some creativity, there’s no reason why you can’t become the master of your schedule, and find time to practice singing, even when you think you don’t have the time!
Need some extra practice help? Visit my earlier post:
Need a great planner to manage your schedule? See below: