Saturday, February 5, 2011

10,000 Hours...Seriously??!!!

I recently read an article that stated that ten thousand hours of practice seems to be the magic number for mastering something.  Wow...ten THOUSAND hours...o.O a LOT!  I couldn't even begin to tell you how many hours I've practiced over the years.  I never thought to actually count!  And as most musicians will tell you, there isn't really such thing as "mastering" your art.  That's part of what makes it an art.  You are always learning and even the most accomplished and famous musicians STILL practice and take lessons etc.  Their styles and technique are always evolving and changing.  So, in light of that I will take the ten thousand hours mark as a point of "beginning" the ever changing journey of being a Master rather than the ultimate pinnacle.

So, lets start with a VERY rough estimate of around 1000 hours in Middle and High School.  A rough average of 2000 hours in college based on an average of 4 hours a day between my own personal practice and lessons and classes plus a few extra on weekends when I had performances and my senior recital.  I took a few years off of not doing much at all other than singing in my car and the shower.  That doesn't really count does it? And let's say another 500 over the last three or four years with the choirs I've been in and my recent re-dedication to singing.  That leaves me with a total of only 3500 hours so far.  NOT EVEN HALF...(thud)  If I average three hours a day during the week, and the occasional extra on weekends for performances and such, I can estimate (total rough guess) that I might achieve 1000 hours a year IF I seriously dedicate myself to that time every day.  Though to be honest, three hours a day is a lot for me at the moment and hard to schedule all the time.  And really...IS three hours too much or not enough for a singer?  I've been singing all my life yet I feel like I have absolutely NO IDEA how to effectively practice on my own.

I keep telling myself that it isn't too late to really start striving for a scheduled long practice time every day but it makes me wish I wouldn't have taken so much time off after college.  Cause I have a LOT of catching up to do!  I'm honestly not going to really count my hours and count down the days until I become a Master.  That's just silly. And in the long run it's not the end numbers but the actual journey and tangible results along the way that count.  But I am, however, quite behind considering where other's my age are in their careers.  There are things that I'm working on in lessons that I "should" have conquered during college or shortly after.  And like I said before, I feel like even though I've been doing it for years, I really feel like I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to effectively practicing.  How long every day should I strive for?  I know that warm ups are integral, but then what?  Should I break up my practice time into sections?  Warm ups, vocal exercises, sight singing practice etc.?  How long should I spend at each thing to make it worth my time?  My practice sessions have always been very random after I warm up.  No real structure.  I really feel like I can be doing more and being way more productive.

I'm thinking I need to schedule each section separately.  Write it out on my calendar.  And then as I go along, as I figure out what needs more work etc. I will shift around scheduling.  And I'm going to start on the low end of time and then as I condition my voice more, I can add more time.  So...we'll see how it goes?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My lot in this life...

I have always been a musician at heart.  As far back as I can remember I would blast any Music I could find and dance around the living room singing as loud as possible.  One of my favorite memories is singing along with my grandmothers vinyl records when I was little.  I feel like I was partially raised by Judy Garland and Bing Crosby. :)
In middle school I decided to join band and then the choir and then I was told in High School that I had a serious untapped talent and that I should take lessons and pursue it.  I was taken back at first.  "ME?? Really good at something?  You're just setting me up for humiliation aren't you?" choir teacher was insistent and I eventually convinced my dad to let me take voice lessons.  I started private vocal lessons and within a couple months I was singing solos at every concert.  I completely fell in love with singing and went on to earn my B.A. in Vocal Music from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO.

I diverged a bit from the musical path for a few years in pursuit of a Pastry Chef career because I figured that it would be a better suited career to actually earn a living but due to a permanent back injury that has made it pretty much impossible for me to work full time in a bakery and general unhappiness of not having music in my life, I have now decided that it's time to go back to my first love; Singing!  I've felt in the bottom of my soul for a long time that I want to do this professionally. is really more of a NEED.  But for the longest time I thought it wasn't the best move because its so competitive and hard to make a decent living.  But I've started to wonder if the back injury was the Universe's way of telling me that I was on the wrong path.  That regardless of what the pay was, this is what I was "meant" to do!

So...last year I decided it was time.  I sought out a choir and recently started up vocal lessons again with an AMAZING teacher.  (I will elaborate on a later post.)  And I can tell you, I could only be happier with my choice if I could find some paying gigs that would help pay the bills.  BUT... that will happen eventually and in the mean time I am going to start a music studio of my own to teach voice, beginning piano and clarinet.  I have been in the Chorus for two different Opera productions and have started to open doors and networking for more in the future.  With hard work and persistence, I will eventually be able to start auditioning for lead roles.  I have a possible audition for a paid choir position and I hope that goes through.  And even if I don't get the gig, I can say that I've tried and move on to other opportunities.  I am getting braver with auditions and I am really excited to see what other wonderful things my future holds for me :)