The Secret to Finding Practice Time
The thing that makes most singers feel guilty, because most of us don’t do it enough. Or at all.
I have, for much of my teaching career, applied the Bruce Dopke Rule to my voice students regarding practice. Bruce was my student back when I used to preach the gospel of regular practice. Bruce had a family, served on two boards, sang in and soloed for his church choir, and worked more than full time as an attorney. After a couple of months of putting up with my reminders to practice, Bruce pointed out that for him to find time even to make it to his lesson every week was an inch shy of a miracle. Practicing was not going to happen.
After that, I made sure my students knew The Rule: if you’re ok with slow progress, I’m ok with you not practicing.
If you want fast progress, or some other goal, you have to think differently. You have to make time to practice. It can be challenging, but you can do it. Here’s the secret:
Pay Attention to Your Transitions
Any number of times in a day you transition from one activity or environment to another. You go from showering to dressing, from walking the dog to checking your email, from putting away the groceries to doing the dishes. The space between these activities is where you make your choices. Look to those spaces to make the choice to practice.
A Couple More Tips:
1. Lower the bar
People say they can’t find the time to practice. Totally understandable if you’re attached to the idea that practicing takes a Long Time.
Find a measure of time that doesn’t make you anxious. How about 15 minutes? It might seem pointless to you to practice for only 15 minutes. But if you manage to do that four times a week you’re practicing an hour a week more than you were before. Lower the bar as much as you need to. You want to eliminate resistance to the time commitment.
2. Remember it has to happen today.
You have stuff you do every day. Take your vitamins, brush your teeth, or feed your cat. Somehow you remember. Either the behavior is a habit, or you just remember because it’s something that’s important to you. Or your cat.
Every day, find a time of transition between two things, and choose to practice for 15 minutes. Then do that other thing that you were going to do.
Unless you make that choice at a really inopportune time - which you wouldn’t - that 15 minutes wont’ make any difference in your day. You won’t make anyone mad, you won’t be late for anything, nobody will starve to death. It really won’t make any difference in your, or anyone else’s, day.
It will make a difference in your singing, though; maybe not this week, but certainly over time.
And... you and I both know that if your voice is healthy and strong, and you’re singing well, you’ll feel more confident in everything you do.