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How Often to Practice Music

How Often to Practice Music

As a music school, we get questioned all the time about how often to practice music and for how long. The truth is, it depends on a number of factors, including what level you’re at, how serious you are, what type of music it is, and what musical performances you have coming up. But there are some general rules of thumb that should help you no matter what.

How Often Should I Practice?

High frequency of practice sessions tends to be more effective than long duration of practice sessions. It’s almost always better to practice every day, even for 5-10 minutes, than it is to practice once a week for 70 minutes. Your brain needs time to process the material in between practice sessions, and as with exercise, your body needs to build strength and agility slowly. When it comes to guitar, your fingers need to callous and build up strength, which won’t happen with longer, less frequent practice sessions. When it comes to singing, especially if you’re new, you’ll just wear your voice out if you practice too long and too infrequently. When it comes to piano, your fingers need a chance to build up strength. Often, if you let too much time elapse, you’ll pretty much be back to square 1 when you start up again. So that being said, try for almost every day. If that isn’t realistic, shoot for as many times a week as you can. Be honest with yourself though. If 3-4 times a week is possible, and 7 days a week isn’t, don’t tell yourself it’s 7 days a week or nothing. That’s just a recipe for getting derailed. Anything is better than nothing, especially if you’re consistent.

If you’re practicing every day, giving yourself a day off once in a while can actually be helpful as well. It’ll give your muscles a chance to recover, particularly in some more muscular forms of singing, like belting.

How Long Should I Practice?

As I mentioned, shorter, more frequent sessions are better than longer, less frequent ones. The length of time you spend depends on your level. If you’re just starting to learn an instrument, 15 minutes might be plenty for you. In fact, playing guitar longer than that before your fingers are calloused flat-out hurts. Doing your vocal exercises 10 to 15 minutes a day will also give you a huge leap forward. As you get more advanced and your music gets harder, practice sessions should get gradually longer. If you’re working through a repertoire of advanced Chopin, Mozart, and Bach pieces, 15 minutes probably won’t scratch the surface, and you’re looking at at least an hour to see some real improvement. When it comes to advanced singing, listen to your body. If your voice is getting tired, it’s usually time to wrap up the practice session, or at least start to use the time to mark through music instead of singing full out. If your voice is feeling great, by all means, the more singing the better.

How Should I Practice?

Your music teacher is the best one to help you with this question, but most importantly, you should combine taking apart the hard parts with practicing all the way through a song. If you know you can play a song perfectly except for the 4th measure, don’t keep playing through the song over and over again and making the same mistake on the 4th measure. Just play that measure until you have it down. If you’re singing through a song and can hit every note perfectly except for that last one, give some special attention to that last note instead of just singing the song again and again. But playing or singing through the whole song has its purposes too. Building up the physical and mental stamina to make it through a song is extremely important for your musical growth.

If I Can Leave You With Just One Thing

If I can leave you with just one piece of advice from this entire article, it’s that something is better than nothing. If all you can manage is singing along with your radio in the car every day, I promise, it’s better than nothing, and your voice will benefit from it. You might not be ready for your Broadway audition in the next few weeks, but your voice will still improve over time if you keep it up. If all you can find time for is playing through the guitar chords in a verse of the song you’re learning a few times a week, you’ll eventually have that verse down and be able to move to the chorus. You’ll still be learning chords, developing finger strength, and building up muscle memory. I’ve seen students with very little practice time make remarkable progress over the years by just doing what they can.

Student Spotlight: Ella Hayes

Student Spotlight: Ella H.

I had the pleasure of working with Emma’s student Ella at our May Pre-Recital Masterclass. We were all blown away by her unique style and stunning voice, which one student described as “mesmerizing.” Along with singing, Ella can accompany herself on piano and ukulele and even takes classes in aerial silks. While she’s newer at performing in front of an audience, she’s maintained a phenomenal YouTube channel and an Instagram music account. Be sure to follow her at @ellahayesmusic! In the mean time, enjoy her video from our latest recital.

MM: What are some of your favorite hobbies, outside of music? Favorite school subjects, books, movies, shows, sports?

EH: I have been enjoying my classes in aerial silks this year. I also really love roller skating and going to Knott’s Berry Farm with my friends. My current tv show obsession is “Gotham.”

MM: How did you get started with music, and how long have you been singing?

EH: Like many others, I can’t remember how and when I started loving music. But my dad had a big influence on how my taste has developed. He introduced me to my early favorites, Adele and Evanescence, but also standards from the 1950s and New Wave, Punk, and Rap from the 1980s.

MM: What have been some of your favorite performances, and why? How do you share your music with others, beyond recitals?

EH: The recent recital with this studio was pretty much my first public performance. I struggled to perform in front of anyone for a long time, and I get super nervous even now. I did much better recording myself for YouTube uploads for a few years, and now have an Instagram account where I can share more often through posts and stories.

MM: What makes you keep up your practice, and what are your goals?

EH: My desire to improve my technique and style keeps me focused on practicing everyday. I really want to be a better stage performer.

MM: Who are a few bands/artists that have inspired you, and why?

EH: Like I mentioned earlier, Adele and Evanescence were meaningful inspirations early on. These days I tend to like anything by the two Jameses: James Arthur and James Young.

MM: What are some of your favorite songs, and why?

EH: My current favorite is called “One Last Dance” by Us the Duo. The story is so eternal and the words are so sweet. But my all-time favorite song is “Hello” by Evanescence for the intense and beautiful melancholy it expresses.

MM: Can you share about a technique, skill, or song you struggled with, and how you are overcoming or have overcome it?

EH: Allergies are the worst! Singing with a compromised respiratory system is very challenging, but I try and drink lots of water and use my emergency inhaler when necessary. I’ve also had to adjust to how my vocal range changed when I was going through puberty, which was hard. It helps to know that these challenges are just how life is sometimes 🙂

MM: I noticed on your Instagram that you accompany yourself both on ukulele and piano. Is that self-taught, or do you take lessons? Any other instruments?

EH: I had a piano teacher when I was very young, but didn’t like the slow pace and strict structure and quit after two years. I continued learning on my own, mostly by writing songs and playing on a digital keyboard. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, my parents gave me a ukulele for Christmas and I taught myself to play it. They signed me up for some lessons, which I did for about a year until I switched over to voice and piano with your studio. I’m interested in learning to play the guitar.

MM: What advice do you wish you had at the beginning? What advice would you give to other students just starting out?

EH: My best advice is that if it hurts to sing it, don’t push it; try to raise/lower the key. It’s not worth damaging your cords (and it probably doesn’t sound great anyway).

Teacher Feature: Lina M.

Teacher Feature: Lina M.

Our newest voice and piano teacher, Lina, has performed all over the world, including the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, and a wide variety of other venues in both America and throughout Europe. She won first and second place in two separate NATS competitions, one for contemporary music and the other for musical theatre. She won the contemporary music category conquering the infamously difficult “Chandelier” and “Stone Cold,” and for that has our undying respect! We’re so excited to have her as part of our team.

MM: What instruments do you play, how did you get started with each one, and how long have you played them?

LM: I am a vocalist and play the piano. I started singing in church choir when I was four years old, and I’ve been singing ever since! I started teaching myself to play the piano during college and have fallen in love with the instrument.

MM: Who has inspired you musically?

LM: As an artist, my main motivation is to speak to my own experiences and connect with others who resonate with the sentiments expressed in my music. For this reason, I find my biggest inspiration is artists who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable in their music. Twenty One Pilots and Sia are two artists whose vulnerability inspires me. They both fearlessly address their struggles with mental illness and use their music as a platform to reach others struggling through similar experiences. As a creator, I hope to find the same strength in vulnerability with my own music.

MM: What are your favorite musical genres, and why?

LM: Some of my ultimate favorite genres are soul, gospel R&B, alternative, hip hop, atmospheric rock, modern orchestral, musical theatre and dance music. I love each of these genres for unique reasons, but they all share a deep emotional expression in the music. I also love music that lends itself towards dancing, as I’m a choreographer.

MM: What are your current musical projects?

LM: I’m currently writing and producing my own music. I’m working on expanding my musical knowledge by learning to play more instruments (guitar, drums, and more) and reinforcing my musical theory background.

MM: How do you practice, and how do you balance music with some of your other life goals? How do you help your students practice?

LM: When I practice, I set aside a specific amount of time each day and plan to work through a few specific tasks. For example, if I’m going to be performing a piece for a recital, I’ll plan to work through the diction of the piece for an hour one day, review the trouble spots the next day, and so on. In order to make sure my time is well-balanced, I write out my short term and long term musical goals and decide the most efficient way to work towards those while also granting time for my other time commitments.

I advise my students to treat music practice like they would studying. You shouldn’t throw out your voice practicing all in one day, but instead plan to practice consistently for shorter time periods. I also encourage students to make practice fun by incorporating it into your daily routine in unique ways–that way when it comes time to practice you’re excited for it.

MM: It looks like you’ve performed in quite a few places! Do you have any favorites (country, venue, etc.)?

LM: I’ve performed numerous wonderful places, but one of my favorites was in Vienna, Austria. My choir and I performed in a small church called St. Peterskirche. The beauty of the architecture and artwork inside of the church was unparalleled by anything I’ve ever experienced, and the acoustics and atmosphere made the performance feel ethereal.

MM: I heard you won first in the post-collegiate contemporary music category and second in the collegiate musical theatre category for the NATS competition—congratulations! Tell us about the experience! What did you sing? What was the process like? How did you prepare?

LM: I competed in the Bay Area NATS competition in the contemporary music and musical theatre categories. The experience was wonderful. After consulting with my vocal teacher, Donna Olson, I competed in the Spring and Fall competitions of 2016. I was required to select three diverse pieces to perform, fitting within the parameters of the competition’s official guidelines. After selecting my repertoire, I worked tirelessly to perfect the musicianship and performance of my pieces. Each category was performed in front of a different judge panel of 3-4 NATS members, who scored your performance based on technique, style, stage presence, and preparedness.

For the musical theatre and contemporary music categories I performed a selection including “Breathe” from In the Heights, “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato and “Chandelier” by Sia, and “Once Upon a Time” from Brooklyn.

My first NATS I placed 1st in the Collegiate Contemporary Music Category, and at my second NATS I was lucky enough to place 1st in the Post-Collegiate Contemporary Music Category! It was an amazing experience seeing all my hard work paid off.

How to Help Your Kids Practice an Instrument

This may not be the most glamorous topic, but it’s an important one. Kids will do better learning an instrument, whether that be piano, guitar, singing, or theremin, if they have parental involvement. This doesn’t mean you need to be some kind of piano virtuoso to help them. It just means that you should be involved, if at all possible, at least at the beginning. If they’re just starting lessons, chances are you’ll be able to stay a page or two ahead of them and be able to help, even if you’ve never looked at an instrument before. Here are some tips to help your kids practice an instrument.

1. Ask Your Teacher What They Should Be Doing at Home

Some teachers will be strict and have a set amount of time the student should be practicing each song or concept. In this case, she or he will probably be very specific and detailed about what your child should be doing at home. There is nothing wrong with this approach, as long it’s realistic for your family.

I tend to have a more flexible approach with the families I work with. I don’t have an ideal amount of practice time in mind, because every child and every family is different. If your child has the time and patience to practice 2 hours a day, does that mean you’ll make faster progress than someone who practices 10 minutes a day? Well yeah, probably! As long as they don’t burn out quickly and stop altogether. But if there’s no way your family has the time and energy to put in an hour a day, let alone 2, I’d rather work with what is realistic. If a parent can devote 15 minutes a day to helping their kids practice, I’ll lay out a practice plan that’ll take roughly 15 minutes, and if you can help your kid maintain it, I promise you, they’ll be better off than most kids out there trying to learn an instrument.

In any case, the first step to helping your kids practice is knowing what they should be working on, and their teacher can help with this.

2. Create a Routine For Your Child

If your child knows that she needs to practice guitar for 15 minutes when she gets home from school, it’ll eventually just become what she does. It’s daunting to create a new habit, and a routine will help create that habit and help her see consistent progress.

3. Especially If They’re Young, Sit Down With Them

It’s highly unlikely your 6-year-old will head over to the piano each day and practice what he’s asked to do. Just taking the time to sit down with him to keep him on track will help him make a lot of progress.

If they’re taking voice lessons, think about recording the lesson and putting that on for your child so that she can sing along with the vocal exercises and songs that happened in class. Even if you only have 10 minutes and the lesson was 30, singing through just one or two of the exercises is much better than nothing.

I’ve been taking my 5-year-old to piano lessons for about a year now, and when new concepts or songs are introduced, it can be challenging to keep him motivated. Sitting down with him each day, even if he just makes incremental progress, is very important. After he learns a song, he’s much more excited about it and tends to go practice on his own (wherever and whenever he sees a piano). It’s during those difficult, low-motivation times that it’s especially important you’re there.

4. Help Them Through the Concepts

Even if you’ve never touched a piano before, you can probably stay one step ahead of your child for a while (and have the added bonus of learning the basics of an instrument yourself!) Sometimes just being able to help them identify middle C on the piano and quizzing them on it so that they know how to get their hands into position can be hugely helpful. Once your child understands the basics, you’ll probably be able to back off over time.

5. Short and Frequent Practice is Better than Long and Less Frequent Practice

Your child will probably get much more out of 15 minutes a day than 105 minutes in one sitting. Coming back to the same thing over and over again will help reinforce it, while one marathon session tends to just burn people out.

6. Give Them a Chance To Like It

It’s certainly not true in every case, but people tend to like what they know how to do well. I’ve heard so many times from parents, “I don’t want to make them practice. I just want them to do this for fun.” The thing is, going to your lesson week after week and not knowing how to play your instrument isn’t fun for anyone. Sitting down to practice when you have no idea what you’re doing isn’t fun either. Playing the guitar is fun when you can, you know, kind of play the guitar. Maybe your kids will practice for years and never fall in love with it, but that’s actually pretty unlikely. Making music is joyful, and everyone deserves the chance to learn to do it.

Teacher Feature: Ashley B.

Teacher Feature: Ashley B.

Meet Ashley, our uber-accomplished new in-school and after-school music teacher. She’ll be teaching our entire in-school music program at Oakridge Private School and Crescent Elementary, along with our ASP Studio M program at Oakridge. On top of that, she also teaches private voice, piano, ukulele, guitar, percussion, and songwriting lessons for us. We’re so excited to have this music-playing and polynesian dancing extraordinaire on board with us!

MM: What instruments do you play, how did you get started with each one, and how long have you been playing them?

AB: I currently perform voice, guitar, ukulele, piano, and some percussion. Dates and years are always a bit tricky because one instrument always bridged into the next, but I’ve been playing the piano for about 12 years, guitar for 20 years, and singing for 28 years.

At the age of 7, I started learning piano and continued that for about a year. Looking back on it, I wish could’ve stuck with it because I really appreciate the instrument now and I spend a lot of time these days refining my piano technique. I received my very first guitar from my grandmother at age 9, and around the same time I also discovered the Judds. I had never seen a woman playing the guitar before then! I began taking guitar lessons and slowly integrated singing while accompany myself. When I reached the age of 10 my voice started to change and I developed a more soulful sound. I’ve always had a low voice and as a kid I would get teased for it . . . music helped me develop my voice and needless to say, now I get compliments on my unique speaking and singing voice. It was around the same time that I discovered blues, began practicing for hours after school, started teaching myself new chords, new techniques, etc. I eventually reconnected with piano, and along the way I also picked up ukulele, darbuka, and Tahitian to’ere and bass drum.

MM: What are some of your favorite instruments, and why?

AB: But there are so many favorites!!! Okay, if I had to choose a couple, my absolute favorite instrument is the voice. I’ve heard so many different kinds of sounds expressed through the human body, it really does continue to fascinate me. For example; listening to different kinds of world music and how there can be a group of people singing (no instruments) and have it all be so lively, solemn, and everything in between. I think it’s one of the very few instruments where you can glimpse directly into a person’s soul without ever meeting them. I still get choked up when I hear that passion in a singer’s voice that needs to communicate and reach out. My second choice would have to be the guitar. I stopped playing it for a few years when I was younger but then I caught Stevie Ray Vaughn playing on TV one night and wouldn’t peel my eyes off of the screen for the rest of the concert. There was something about his playing that was so gritty and soulful and the same time, I had the inspiration I needed to pick the guitar back up.

MM: What are your current musical projects?

AB: Right now, I’m putting a band together to break into the private event circuit, playing weddings, private parties, etc. This past year I’ve been putting together the media content for that group, including four soul/funk tracks and a music video (up and coming!) and we’re currently in post-production on the project. I’m really excited to see how it all turns out!

MM: How do you practice, and how do you balance music with some of your other life goals? How do you help your students practice?

AB: Between teaching and gigging, I don’t have a lot of down time. When I have an evening free to work on a project I tackle things one at a time and I’m pretty methodical and thorough. If you were to catch me at home working on a song, you’d likely see me sitting at the dining room table, headphones on, guitar at the ready, toggling back and forth between lyric sheets, chord sheets, YouTube videos, and my notepad. At the moment, my music goals are very much in line with my life goals, so it’s less about balance and more about trying to get to bed on time!

I try to gear my students’ lessons with practice in mind all throughout. During the lesson we are working on exercises that I want them to repeat at home, so we talk about how and what they are going to practice continually during our time together. I think it’s important that the student understands what they are expected to work on and they feel confident in the exercise, so that they aren’t lost or confused when they get home.

MM: What genres are you most comfortable in, and what would you say your favorite vocal genre is?

AB: Blues, soul and jazz standards are definitely my preferred genres to perform. I take a lot of inspiration from Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Amy Winehouse, Judith Hill and Chaka Khan.

MM: What are your top goals, music, or otherwise?

AB: Like most of the professional musicians I work with, I’m pretty much focused on paying the bills by making music. The details of how that happens – and therefore my immediate goals – are always in flux, but as long as I’m waking up every day doing what I love, performing, creating, teaching, then every day is a dream come true.

MM: If you were stranded on an island and could only have one album with you, what would it be?

AB: Little Girl Blue by Nina Simone.

MM: Tell us about the NAACP recognition you received?

AB: In 2011, as a part of my church’s music ensemble I was awarded a NAACP Women’s Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations who serve as “a positive influence through music and cultural diversity” in the city of Long Beach. Our group performs annually at the National Martin Luther King Interfaith Celebration, which celebrates Dr. King’s vision of a more just and peaceful world through interfaith community service. It was our work at these events that garnered us attention for this prestigious award.

MM: Tell us about your Polynesian dance background!

AB: I began Polynesian dance at the age of three because my mother led a dance troupe. I started performing and earned money at our shows at age 5, so technically, I started my first performance gig when I was in kindergarten! Around the age of 11 or 12, I picked up learning the Tahitian drum known as the to’ere with my right hand and bass drum with my left. After a few months, I composed my first ‘ote’a which is basically a dance number comprised of different rhythms (usually fast paced) and is solely played with drums. Ironically, although there were lots of ukuleles around me at that time I didn’t pick up the tiny instrument until about 8 years ago when I borrowed a friend’s uke and quickly fell in love with it.

MM: You’re our new Oakridge teacher! Congrats, and we are excited to have you! What are you most looking forward to? Anything you are nervous about?

AB: I’m really looking forward to playing singing games and rhythm activities with the kids, getting them ready and excited for performances and seeing if I can inspire more interest in music among my students. I’m nervous about everything! But seriously, I’m looking forward to being at that point a few months in where I have a solid rapport established with my students and a regular routine in the classroom. The beginning is always chaotic and I’m hoping to move through that phase with as much grace as possible.

 

Student Spotlight: Ian McGregor

Student Spotlight: Ian M.

For the past 4 years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Ian, who began lessons with us after retiring from an impressive career in the aerospace industry. Wanting to return to the music lessons he began taking when he was a boy, he started studying piano, and eventually voice, with us. While we’re sad to see him go, we wish him well in his world travels and are grateful to have played a role in his music education.

MM: How did you get started with lessons?

IM: I originally took lessons in violin and piano as a boy, but my family moved a lot and I didn’t keep up with it after a while. My older brother played piano as well and he stayed with it, studying classical music all through college and he still plays to this day. I always wanted to get back to playing and once I retired I had more time. Now I’ve been taking lessons for about four years with Molly’s Music, first just focused on piano and then adding voice lessons for the last couple of years.

My family immigrated from England – my father is Scottish and my mother Irish – they met in London at the end of World War II when my father was in the British Navy. We came to the United States after the war, when I was about five years old. My father’s work took us to Boston, then Baltimore, Los Angeles , and finally Washington DC. I particularly liked the west coast and I moved back here as soon as I was old enough.

MM: What kind of music do you like?

IM: I like many kinds of music from classical to jazz to rock and roll. My father liked a lot of different music as well and played jazz like Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck which I learned to like very much. I grew up with rock and roll in the 60s and I still love much of that music. I also like the Great American Songbook type of ballads from the 30s and 40s. I must admit I like that kind of music much more than newer music. As a boy I loved watching old black and white movies like Casablanca which had everything – war, adventure, romance and great music like Dooley Wilson playing “As Time Goes By” on the piano at Rick’s Café. There were lots of great songs in the old movies like “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Thanks for the Memories,” Bob Hope’s theme song.

MM: How do you share your music?

IM: I have friends and relatives that like to hear me play and see how I’m progressing but I probably need a little more critical audience. I have relatives that live in Upland and one of my nephews plays drums in a high school jazz program. I saw him recently and was very surprised at how great a program they had and how skilled my nephew was. It really makes me wish I’d stayed with music when I was in high school.

MM: Advice for others?

IM: For me to be successful I just keep playing and I set aside that time and do it regularly. Of course when you start improving it gives you that spark to continue because you’re getting results. You have to be committed to it or your attention will flag because it doesn’t come easy and you just have to practice.

I’m particularly thrilled that my voice lessons have taught me to sing on key and I’m just amazed and thrilled by that. I use musicnotes.com software which will play the accompaniment for the sheet music you buy so I can practice singing songs on my computer. I also practice on a karaoke machine. I’m working on “Here, There, and Everywhere” by the Beatles – it’s great to be able to sing those songs that I’ve loved for so long. My routine is to practice singing four days a week for about an hour, and piano six days a week for the same amount of time. I enjoy it enough to make the time for practice.

I’m still working my way through the piano lesson books and also learning to play and sing “Moon River,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and “Blue Moon.” On the more difficult songs I generally play the song melody with my right hand and chords on my left. It takes me a fair while to learn one song but the next one takes a little less time. I usually need help from my teacher Benjamin on how to position my fingers and especially with getting the timing right, which I always seem to need help with.

MM: A bit about you?

IM: I started my career as a financial analyst in the aerospace industry right out of college at SDSU. Slowly but surely I learned the business and took on ever increasing responsibilities. When I retired I was running a business operation for Lockheed Martin in support of the Trident submarine nuclear missile program.

I was fortunate to be able to retire early and stay in good physical condition in order to travel and play golf. I’m planning a trip to Europe this summer and will be visiting Germany, Italy and France. Occasionally I write articles on social issues published in the Register newspaper and I’m thinking about teaching college business classes part time. I read a wide variety of fiction and I particularly like historical novels and biographies.

 

How to Find Accompaniment For Your Singing

How to Find Accompaniment For Your Singing

One of the most common issues singers have when they perform is how best to find accompaniment; that is, what kind of backing they will be singing against. Sometimes you don’t have a choice in accompaniment: a pianist, band, or backing track, for example, is arranged by the venue. But if you’re in charge of finding your own backing and don’t want to rock on up there and sing a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment), you might need some guidance. Here’s how to find accompaniment for your singing.

Play an Instrument

Okay, if you’re reading this post, it’s a long shot that you’re going to be able to learn an accompaniment instrument before an upcoming performance, but on the off-chance you know one, just realize that this can be a great option. If you tried classical piano lessons as a kid and have no desire to look back, realize that there are much easier ways to learn to accompany. Learning a few piano, guitar, or ukulele chords may not make you Mozart, but it should be plenty to entertain an audience on “Riptide.”

Find an Accompanist

If you have any friends or family who play an accompaniment instrument, now might be the perfect time to ingratiate yourself. Make sure you practice with them ahead of time and don’t just rely on them to sound the way you envision your music, because every accompanist and every instrument will sound different. If you find a pianist, make sure that they either bring a keyboard to the venue or that the venue has a piano.

Find a Band

If you want longer-term musicians to collaborate with, consider finding band members. You can try looking on ReverbNation, asking around your school or work, or even posting an ad on Craigslist (just be careful and meet in a public place if you go with the latter option). Make sure that you find a band that’s interested in the style of singing you want to do. If you’re a soft jazz singer, you may not want to find rock musicians.

Bring a Karaoke Track

You can make this happen by asking someone who plays an instrument to record you a backing track, or you can simply buy a track from iTunes (try typing in “[name of song] karaoke,” with [name of song], of course, being the title of your song), and you should have options. Karaoke-version.com is also a wonderful resource. You can even choose your key and customize which instruments to include! Good karaoke tracks can be a great option sometimes, because you know exactly what it will sound like ahead of time and have something unchanging to practice with. Before you choose to use a karaoke track, confirm with your venue that there will be a way to play it, or bring your own system. It doesn’t take much: just a smartphone and a bluetooth speaker to connect it to will do the trick.

Karaoke Track Pro Tip

If you download the Amazing Slow Downer app, you can alter both the key and the tempo on your track so that it’s perfect for you.