The Ten Minute Rule

"You should practice technique for ten minutes at a time, five times a day. Then practice repertoire. That's how it's done!" 

Margaret Harshaw taught me this approach more than twenty years ago. How interesting then to come upon research that supports her perspective, which you can read here—the essence of which is short bursts of practice with an emphasis on randomness. What might this look like? 

Let's say you are practicing the /i/ vowel. 

Start with calling on /i/. 

Then sing /i/ on a single long tone. 

Then sing /i/ on a 5 tone scale. 

Go back to calling /i/.

Mix & Match. 

Then you could do the same thing with with /i/, /e/ and /a/. The permutations are as endless as they are interesting. This approach to practice follows "The Ten Minute Rule," which takes into account that if you are practicing technical exercises longer than ten minutes by yourself your brain is going to go dead! It's nice to have science agree. 


And here I thought I was crazy because I found that bursts of vocalizing felt more productive than going and going and going before switching to rep!
annasop said…
This is great! I have always preferred to do my technique like this, and am sure improvements happen quicker with short bursts of energy/focus
Thanks for your comment, annasop!
Roger Ferreira said…
Daniel, what do you mean "calling on /i/" ? What time interval should be between each 10 minute session?
Hi Roger, thanks for your comment.

What do I mean by "calling on /i/"? First off, "calling" is what one does when one is communicating to another person, say across a busy street. "Hey!" That's calling, which, btw, is not "yelling," which is important to know.

/i/ is the vowel "ee" as in "see."

To call /i/ is what I meant in the post above.

How long between practices sessions? Enough to make one want to do more. Ideally, you practice, do something else, then come back to practice.

Roger Ferreira said…
Thanks for the explanation!