While keeping a practice journal each day adds an extra step, it is well worth it. By being consistent with your journal you’ll find out so much about your habits, and how they affect your voice that you were unaware of. You’ll discover when you get the most out of your practices, what foods get in the way of or support your singing, and which exercises help you the best to improve.
Do you enjoy practicing? Some singers get really bored with the warmups and exercises, even though they know this is where you build skill. (And some people think that learning to sing well doesn't take that much work or focus. Um, sorry! Practicing is when skills are built and developed.) Do you enjoy the exercises? Or do you get right to songs? There is not a right or wrong answer. This process will help you to learn your own voice really well, and understand what you need to continue to develop and grow as a singer.
A detailed journal provides an accurate record of your vocal practicing that is rich in information. I recommend that you include these details below for each practice session. This will teach you cause-effect for your own body and voice. You can even create a worksheet for yourself to save time, and fill it in for each practice.
1. When did you practice?
- Which day and time
- What times you started and finished your session
- Which days you didn’t practice and why
- Where you practiced (Home, car, studio, living room, bedroom, etc)
- Did you feel comfortable in that space singing freely? If not, what can you adjust so you do?
- What is your energy level today? (On a scale of 1-10)
- Did you notice a connection between the time of day you practiced, and your energy level at that time?
- How did your energy level affect your practicing outcome?
- Try practicing at different times to see if that makes a difference.
- Did you eat within an hour or so of when you practiced?
- Did what you ate or drank affect your practicing? How?
- Was your drink iced, warm, or room temperature?
- Have you kept yourself well-hydrated today?
- Are you avoiding foods that are very spicy, deep fried, or cause a reaction in your throat such as mucous, a burning sensation, or phlegm?
- Have you noticed whether foods or beverages affect your voice?
4. Physical exercise and health
- If you exercised before your singing practice, what type of exercise, for how long?
- Are you doing sit ups? Cardio? Stretches? Lifting?
- If sit ups, be very careful not to pull on your neck. With weights, be very mindful to breathe properly and not tighten your throat
- Did exercising affect your singing practice in any noticeable way?
5. Vocal exercises
a. What specific warm ups, exercises, and songs did you practice today?
- List how much time you spent on warm ups and exercises. Be sure to list each exercise, including bottom and top notes (range), and at what note you began each one.
- List how long you spent on each individual exercise
- List where in your range the exercise was smooth, and where it was more difficult. Notice if it was different today compared with other days
- Note whether this a new exercise, or one you do regularly
b. What specific exercises worked well this week? Which ones seemed hard?
6. Outcomes: What skills do you feel you need to continue to focus on? Which areas of your voice come more easily?