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Practicing with Your Mouth Shut

by Dean Southern



There is a limit to the amount of time any musician can physically play his or her instrument—and it is, arguably, especially true for singers, whose bodies are their instruments. The length of time one can spend singing varies greatly from person to person and is dependent on a myriad of factors, including level of technical efficiency, the natural robustness of one’s voice, and the state of vocal and overall health on any given day. In general, 90 minutes to two hours, spread throughout the day, is advisable for someone at a moderate to advanced level.

Beyond the time spent in the act of singing, however, there are countless activities that should occupy a singer’s time and should be considered practicing. These activities are vital to the cultivation of both vocal mastery and, as the ultimate goal, artistic integrity.

Perspectives from Voices Past and Present

Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967), among most famous sopranos of the early 20th century, claimed to give “between ...
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