Why you need it
As a vocalist, you need to find a practice ‘haven’ where you can practice singing. It’s critical to your development.
We discussed that real improvement to your singing abilities takes place in your home, away from your voice lesson.(Related: What to look for in a voice teacher) Therefore it is vital that you have a place where you can genuinely hone in on your voice. This is the factory where your phenomenal voice will be created!
What is it?
A practice haven is a place where you can sing undisturbed and where you will also not disturb others. The former is pretty obvious, but the latter is also essential. If you annoy other people when you practice singing, a) that’s just plain mean, and b) eventually you won’t be able to concentrate properly as the guilt will kick in :).
- You need a quiet room or closet where you have enough space for a keyboard and some sheet music/scores.
- Ideally you will be able to have some sort of sound insulation that stops sound coming in and leaving the room.
- You also need to pick a room with minimal echo or reverb. Yep, you can’t use the bathroom. This is because your voice will sound totally different with an echo (often much better!) and you need to work on your raw, unfettered voice. We’ve got to get rid of illusion so we can hear our real sound.
- Last but not least, the room should be well ventilated. If you can, open the window a bit so you get some air, but it’s understandable if this will disturb neighbors or you do not wish to publicize your vocal adventures. The room should not be too hot as this causes the musculature to not engage fully. It should also not be too cold, as this can interfere with breathing, expose you to risk of sickness etc.
What if you don’t have an ideal space ?
Note that size of the room isn’t all that important. I’ve practiced in [large] closets, and in both small and medium-sized rooms. Sometimes, that’s all you’ve got, especially if you live in a small apartment. The key is to choose an area with what you have, make it yours and use it as regularly as you can practice. It doesn’t have to be perfect and often won’t be. Like the fitness enthusiast who will work out with body weight and buckets of water when he isn’t near a gym, a consistent singer should always utilize what he/she has available to focus on making practice consistent.
Cars are sometimes the last-ditch place to practice. Great sound insulation, but there can be a tendency for the body to not fully extend as you are often sitting in a bit of a cramped position. Though there are different schools of thought, most posit that singing is best done when standing up. So, unless you have nothing else, try to avoid a car.
A singing haven needs to be a workshop. This is not the place for the finished product or for a performance. You need a place where you can sound bad and be okay with it. There should be no embarrassment here. All great singers learn from trial, practice and error. You learn from why you cracked on a given note; you learn from going off key in a passage in that song, you even learn from when you coughed up phlegm and sounded raspy!
So find a practice haven and get to work. This is the workshop where you will build your instrument. If you can learn to enjoy the journey, you will come to love the act of practicing, and not just the finished article.
I think many things in life can be divided into things that we enjoy having done, and those that we enjoy doing, as we are doing them. When you have a true sanctuary for vocal work and growth, singing can become something that is enjoyed moment-by-moment.
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