Lessons, practicing, reading, resting, walking – all of these activities are useful for integrating the knowledge you are gaining from learning how to sing. How quickly you integrate a concept, technique, or new knowledge into your own singing practice varies considerably. This is why we need another set of ears when learning how to sing – otherwise we have no gauge to distinguish between our singing today and our singing three months ago (unless you record your lessons and keep a library/archive of them).
There is no prescribed amount of time to integrate new skills you have acquired. I have been at 5-week long intensive singing courses where it took six months or more to integrate all I learned during that intensive period of singing and of study. I was singing on average 3 hours per day during the 5-week period. It was a lot of work, and very draining, but fantastic at the same time!
When you are taking lessons just once per week, you are working on just a few concepts per week (perhaps even just one). You take those home and you practice or learn them. Of course when you try at home it may not be as easy or as good as in the lesson. Perhaps you have anxiety while practicing that your singing isn’t as good as in the lesson. Maybe you think you have grasped the concept or technique, then when you get to the lesson, you realize you’ve been doing it all wrong! This is all a part of the learning process.
I attended the National Association of Teachers of Singing Northwest Division Conference this past weekend. The main theme was The Mature Voice, but a secondary theme was repertoire and resources for the young voice. I took copious notes and I’ll be reviewing them over the next few weeks, acquiring new resources (books!), and starting to try out new techniques to help my students of all ages become better singers.
Outside of music and singing, I practice yoga and karate. I have completed several Bikram Yoga 30-Day Challenges – where you go to 30 classes in 30 days. It’s a great way to test your endurance, get fit, and take your yoga practice (NOT yoga perfect) to the next level. This process helps you integrate what you have been working on in the time before intensive ‘study’. There is no reason why you cannot do the same thing with your singing practice. It does not have to be long – especially if you are just starting out – but you may be surprised at the results!
By giving yourself mini-challenges, you are building muscle memory, building new pathways in your brain, and above all, having fun! You can also adapt ‘challenges’ – for example you can do a 14-day challenge instead of 30, or turn your 30-day into a 60-day challenge instead!
There are many tools available to help you integrate the new skills you are acquiring. One of the side-benefits of singing lessons might be a new skill such as being more organized to integrate this new practice time! Write practice time into your calendar or planner, and be specific about what you learn each day. I find it helpful to write specifically which pieces I will work on during a given practice time.
I strongly recommend you take a look at all the resources I listed below for further inspiration and ideas. Go forth and practice, integrate, and have fun! Thanks for reading, and please share and follow if you haven’t already!