The 5/30 Practice Programme: the Details

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On Wednesday I outlined the background and rationale for an experiment I’ll be running during June to see what difference 5 minutes practice a day actually makes for the participants. Today I’ll outline what it will involve and how to join in.

What You Need to Do

  1. Do the Practice Routine (see below) every day during June
  2. Keep the following records:
    • Every day, note whether or not you actually did the routine
    • Once a week jot a few thoughts down about how you are finding the experience (maybe 30-60 words)
    • At the end of the month, write a brief summary of how you’ve found it overall (maybe 80-120 words)
  3. At the start of July, email me your records

So, not too onerous, I hope. The daily yes/no records are important so I can compare the experience of people who made it absolutely every day with those who made it most days and those who didn’t make it as many days as they had intended. Note: it’s like a diet – if you fall off the wagon, it’s better to climb back on the next day than just give up. Also, I have a hunch that it’s easier to keep at it if you record this information.

The notes about how you are feeling about it are for the benefit of both you and the study. Reflection is a useful part of the practice process, and doing it in written form gives you the chance to compare later experiences with earlier ones. And the whole point of the study is to find out what effect the practice has, and these reflective notes will give the answer. Do you feel you are making progress? Are you bored? Is this a good use of your time? But don’t feel you have to write very much – a snapshot can tell a vivid story.

The Practice Routine

  1. 30 seconds of stretching [E.g. reaching up with the arms, touching the toes, shoulder rolls]
  2. 30 seconds breathing exercises [E.g. staccato ff-ff-ff, ss-ss-ss, ch-ch-ch driven from the diaphragm]
  3. 1 minute legato bubbling (also known as lip-trilling). I’ll be publishing a post next week about this for any participants who haven’t used it as a technique (people I work with regularly will be familiar with it already!)
  4. 1 minute singing to an ‘ng’ hum
  5. 2 minutes very slow practice. Take no more than 4 bars, and sing each part of it two or three times, slowed right down (half-speed or slower) so that you have time to think about it in great detail

For items 3-5, use repertoire you are currently working on. The routine is framed in terms of vocal techniques, but by applying these to actual repertoire you will also get the benefits of increased familiarity with the music. Items 3 and 4 give the chance for the brain to experience melodic continuity, while item 5 brings in attention to detail in terms of both aural perception and technical control.

I’ll say no more about this routine now. I have all kinds of thoughts – about my own experiences while trialling it, about predictions about how you’ll find it – but I’ll leave you to your own experiences with it first. We can share notes about it in July.

And thank you in anticipation to everyone who joins in. The aspiration is that you will find it musically and vocally useful; even if you don’t, reporting on how you actually find it will be useful information!

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