Practice Makes Imperfect?

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Dear Leontine,

Lately practice has become boring for me. It’s not that I don’t value practicing – I do. But for some reason I’m just falling asleep over my own patterns and abilities. As I face the new year, do you have any tips to bring more life to my tired old scales?


Dear Gary,

Singers, like everyone else, need a purpose. If you are practicing in a void, then I am not surprised that you are stalling. I suggest that you keep your practice sessions short for now; spend more time planning a concert and putting together a good program. Find songs you are absolutely passionate about – singing a song one is obsessed by never “feels” like practice. It would also be an idea to book in a weekly session with an accompanist or a vocal coach, or both if you can. This will give you a weekly goal and a chance to practice with the correct backing. 

Regarding your “tired old scales”: why not try some of the books available on ‘Vocalise’, readily available in music shops. I quite like one called “VACCAI: Metodo Pratico Di Canto”, and another called “CONCONE: 50 Lezioni”. Make sure you buy the one for your voice type. Both books have been around forever and now come with a CD, which is very useful and makes practice more fun. They are often used by classical singers but, frankly, they would do anyone good. There are some very good tapes and practice books available with more of a pop/rock edge – get yourself to a good music shop and explore. There are also some excellent libraries. In London the Westminster Library has, I believe, the largest music collection in the country and the Barbican Library is also great. 

Last but not least, listen to lots of great music, get to concerts, go on YouTube and have fun. Having fun with what you do is incredibly important otherwise it becomes academic and meaningless. Rediscover music and what you loved about it in the first place. 

You could try not practicing at all for a couple of weeks – just immerse yourself in wonderful times with music. Your spirit will come back soon enough! If it doesn’t for a long period of time, who knows, maybe it is time to choose a new career. It is certainly worth a thought. If life without singing and music and performing horrifies you, well there is the answer.


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