Apr 27 / Molly McLinden

How Many Hours Do Professional Singers Practice?

So! You want to be a professional singer!

Or.....maybe you're simply curious about what it REALLY takes as far as practice if you wanna "go pro"!

Believe it or not, there is not a set number of hours professional singers practice each day or week. Why? Several reasons!
One is that each genre has unique demands. But, one thing is for certain: if you're a professional singer, or aspire to be, each genre should be taken seriously, as this is your passion and your livelihood, and you want to put your best foot forward for your paying audience. 

Let's start with the heavy hitters: opera, Broadway, and rock.

Opera in particular needs the utmost care, as you ARE the instrument! Unless performing in a massive stadium or outdoors, opera singers do NOT use amplification, so the physical demands of this particular style of singing are huge! Opera singers usually practice every day to keep their voice in shape, for about an hour. This hour will usually include varied warmups and work on specific arias and roles.

Broadway is ALSO very demanding! If you're working in New York City or on a tour, you do several shows a week. When I work with musical theater singers, I usually suggest that they practice daily ,too. Perhaps they don't need an hour (although it's not bad if they can find that time!), but I say shoot for 30-45 min if they can. Their warmups can be quite different than an opera singer's, especially if they are a "belter", voice type...which is super common these days with the current wave of pop/rock based Broadway shows, and Disney shows as well.

Rock can be VERY taxing on the singing voice if you don't have good technique, therefore I tell my rockers to practice as often as they can if they are serious about progress, strength, and overall vocal health. There are indeed several kinds of rock- but let's use metal for example, the toughest! If screaming is part of your performance (the healthy kind of course, as taught by the fabulous Melissa Cross!), you definitely need to be putting in the time. Vocal practice for rockers should include lots of the "basics", including breath work and scales, etc before they even think about doing the fancier stuff, which includes vocal fry/screaming and belting.  For rockers, I would also suggest that they practice 30-45 minutes a day if time allows.

There are also genres that don't require as much vocally, like folk and jazz. These two genres are known for being more intimate and understated. That does NOT mean you don't need to practice- you sure do! But you don't need to practice for as long or as often, in my professional opinion. Half an hour a few times a week usually will suffice, based on my experience with these specific genres.

I'd like for all of you to keep in mind that these are all ballpark figures here. Just like every genre is unique, so is every singer!
Some larger voices take more time to warm up, and some smaller ones don't need as much. A lot of this is truly trial and error!

The best way to measure how much is enough and how much is too much is based on how you feel: are you energized after your practice session, or vocally tired? If the latter, chop some time off next time. If the former, you're doing great!

There are also exceptions, of course! You won't want to practice if you are in pain. Professional singers in particular don't want to risk causing vocal damage, and often work with an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat specialist) that they trust. 

Aaaand....even though being a singer is the most fun in the job in the world (yeah, I'm a little biased!), it's still a job...so professional singers will take well-deserved time off for vacations, holidays, family, etc here and there.  There will also be other reasons why a singer can't have regular practice, due to life events like surgeries, moves, etc. So the "every day" suggestion is NOT a hard and fast rule, even for the pros!

The bottom line is that if you're serious about your singing career and your voice, you'll put in the time to practice and be very wise about how you spend that time practicing.
Where there is a will, there is a way, and with today's technology it makes it easier than ever to work with a vocal coach while touring or dealing with a busy performing schedule in general.

If you are a professional singer wanting assistance with your practice regimen, I'm here for you! I've worked with many pros that have never really been taught HOW to practice, so I've got ya!

Likewise, if you're just starting out in your vocal journey and want to work your way up to sounding like a professional, I am here for you,too! I love working with singers in every genre imaginable, all ages and all levels.

Let's get this started! 

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