Setting a Schedule
It's important to set up a schedule of practice to make sure you accomplish your goals. Repetition is crucial in training your body to respond to new habits, and you'll need to plan time for vocalizing. People respond differently to methods of scheduling, so you should be honest with yourself about the best approach. If you respond best to a set routine, you might want to actually write practice times in your calendar. Or you may prefer a more spontaneous system of practicing whenever you find the opportunity. Either way, be honest with yourself and respect your personal inclinations so that you can achieve the end result with minimal frustration.
Ideally, some time should be spent each day on learning your craft. It's fine to vocalize every day if you'd like, or you could spend some days practicing your breathing exercises, reading and studying, or listening to other singers. Reading Chapter 9 of this book while listening to the accompanying CD is a good way to review the singing exercises on a day you're not able to vocalize.
Any time of the day is acceptable for vocalizing. You'll need to listen to your own body to determine if you're a morning person or more comfortable later in the day. You may need a slightly longer stretch and warmup session in the morning to ensure that your body is alert. Many singers prefer vocalizing later in the day because of their performance schedules.
You should also try to remain aware of other people around you and be considerate of their schedules as well. In general, very early in the morning or late at night are times to avoid because of noise levels. It's important that you feel free to use full volume for certain exercises, so choose your time accordingly.
The length of your practice session depends on your level of expertise. If you're a beginner, it's best to limit each session to fifteen or twenty minutes and spend time feeling the sensation of each exercise. When you become comfortable with short intervals, you can increase your time to thirty minutes. After you have some experience and feel at ease, an hour a day is ideal.
Always stop your practice session if you feel any strain or discomfort. You may just need to rest. If you are particularly tired or under excessive stress, your time is better spent in listening to exercises or studying your music theory. It's easy to push your voice past its limits if you're tired, and if you do, you'll end up doing more harm than good.
As with any practice, some time is better than nothing. If you only have five minutes, don't try to speed through the exercises. Do one or two exercises carefully so that it's time well spent. If you feel each session has to be perfectly timed and organized, you may avoid your practice altogether. It's better to achieve a small amount than to miss an entire day because it's not the perfect scenario. In contrast, be careful of getting so excited about your new skills that you overdo it and cause both vocal and emotional fatigue.
Any place you feel comfortable, relaxed, and free of tension is a good place to practice. If you practice at home, it's best to have a supportive environment. If this isn't the case, then find times you can be alone. Singing in the bathroom is a famous cliché, but the bright acoustics of the sound can be helpful.
You can sing in your car, but if you live in a dense traffic area be aware of any tension you may feel while driving. Any emotionally neutral space, such as a room in a school, church, or rehearsal studio, is especially good. These places are free of outside distractions and also require that you make some prior plan or commitment to your practice sessions. If you live or travel in a rural area, try vocalizing outdoors. It's fun to experiment with the sound of your voice in different environments and learn what various acoustic situations offer.