21 Jun 2012

The Practice of Craft and Art

“When we decide to undertake a practice of any kind, the profundity to which we will delve in is unforeseeable to us. The natural tendency is to think only of the outcome that we seek. When I think retrospectively on my ten years of practicing singing, however, I realize that the real beauty and success is attained not in any end result, but in the moments that I am truly present in my practice. Within practice there is a rare freedom to search for what has true meaning to you. The true purpose of practice is not to be perfect, but to look inward throughout your process and grow. After ten years of practicing singing, I have learned more about myself than I thought there was to learn, but the best part is that I feel as if I have only just begun to come into myself and explore my depth. I will never stop practicing singing because it is not the end result that matters to me, but what I gain from consistently putting my heart and soul into something I love. Beautiful insight into oneself is to be gained from dedication to a meaningful practice.”

Hannah Rivera, 21, singer

My philosophy about practicing and actually about anything is if you start to force yourself or do anything mechanically.. or because someone told you to.. it will simply not work..

“Working with joy and focus ” is truly the only way to learn deeply, to retain the meaning of the learning and to apply it to all aspects of your experience!

This pertains to how you do your work, practicing, working on songs ( they must always be songs you at least like)… how you kiss, what shoes you wear..what you eat and so on!

So, back to vocal practice..

Here’s how I have taught people for 25 years:

If you’re having a lesson once a week , if you practice 3 times between lessons , that’s amazing!! If you take a lesson every other week, then 5 times …

Do not practice longer than 15 minutes. Your vocal cords get tired of repetition and your brain also gets tired and sluggish if you practice too long, especially if you are learning a new technique. Maybe you will sometimes practice for 20 minutes.

“Rehearsing” for a purpose is different. Another blog entry!

Your practice needs to sink into your mind and body with gentleness and curiosity: not with drills and orders shouted from inside your own mind or the teacher!

And “practice” does not always require vocalizing. “Practice” includes all or any of the following:

– Listen to the tape of your last lesson just to remind yourself of ideas, things that happened, to feel the feeling of the experience – Memorize lyrics- Listen to one of your songs just to get more familiar

– Vocalize with or without the tape – Work in front of the mirror on letting go of tension areas – Lie on the floor, knees bent, back flat, working on breathing and expanding out the letting the floor do the work…

– Sit quietly with your eyes closed and run through some songs in your mind

– Try singing small sections of a song and work on one technical issue.. play with it, explore when it works and when it doesn’t

– Sing a song with acting values in mind only and see what happens

Be curious at all times!!

Have joy in your heart that you can practice!

Thank you Jenn and Hannah for your inspiration!

I highly suggest the following wonderful books:

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

A Soprano on Her Head, by Eloise Ristad

Both books and writers are honest, funny, relevant to all pursuits and fun to read and absorb!


Working with Joy and Focus!


Susan Lambert, LCSW

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