This fabulous (short and snappy!) video made by Annie Bosler and Don Greene really hits home something I talk a lot about in voice sessions. To establish a new habit, or improve a new skill, the way you practice is one of the keys to success.
The sports coaching page Teach PE talks about the four kinds of practice which can all be used in different situations. The one that will work best for you depends on the skill being learned:
- Fixed practice – These are sometimes also known as drills and involves repeatedly practising a whole skill in order to strengthen the motor programme. This type of practice is best with discrete, closed skills
- Massed practice – This is a continuous form of practice which is best for simple skills. An example would be a rally in badminton where the learner must repeatedly perform drop shots. This causes fatigue and therefore simulates the late stages of a game
- Variable practice – This is used best for open skills and involves repeating a skill in varying situations. For example shooting practice in football, where the coach may set up drills and alter the starting position and involvement of defenders. This helps to build up schema to use in game situations
- Distributed practice – Attempts at the skill are divided up with intervals in between to allow for rest and mental rehearsal. This is best used in difficult, dangerous or fatiguing skills and with young or lowly motivated individuals
If you’re trying to change something about the way you use your voice, you’re also trying to carve out a new habit, and that takes time and effective practice. Consider how you could be working more efficiently towards your goal by discussing the best practice routine for your goals in your voice therapy sessions!
And now, back to the piano…