It's hard to keep New Year's resolutions. Yes, we are all guilty of coming up with a great one, whether it's eating cleaner, working out more, or being more productive. January 1st, you're going strong, but now that it's February, the resolution you were so gung-ho about has fallen by the wayside. We all get it - life gets in the way! But the easiest way to create new habits is to make them specific and make time for them.
This year, why not make a resolution for a more productive practice schedule? If you're anything like me, your free time is limited, and you don't like to schedule it to the nth degree. But in reality, having a loosey-goosey attitude about practicing won't help you make the most of your time. Here are some tricks that can help you get more out of each practice session.
1. Put your practice time in your calendar. Shave some time off your post-work or post-school Facebooking or whatever it is you usually do when you get home. Set a reminder on your phone to go off when you get home. Even a short, focused 30-minute practice session can be worth it. Then, you can unwind on the couch and pop open a cold one.
2. “Shed” like an instrumentalist. It’s easy to just sing through each aria from start to finish, but it’s not really the most effective use of your time. Pick one aria and just work the melismas or cadenzas. Count-sing each note or take things out of the regular rhythm and tempo. What’s your weakest vowel? Go through your aria and find all of the places this vowel shows up, and really focus on honing your resonance in those specific spots. When you're done shedding, THEN sing through your aria from top to bottom.
3. You don't always have to sing to practice! Speak your text, spend time with your word-for-word translation. As you go through each phrase, mix it up by interchanging your English translations and the original language of your aria.
4. Rehearse your blocking. Having consistent and specific staging for each of your arias will help you really get into character when you walk into the audition room. Practicing your blocking as if you were doing a staging rehearsal will really get it in your body. That way, when you’re in an audition, it will be second nature.
Remember to hold yourself accountable and treat practice time as a valuable tool, not just an obligation. Giving yourself a clear plan for your time can help you go into it with a sense of purpose, and it can help make this resolution one that will stick! Happy practicing!