How much practice is too much?
While I am a 4irm believer in ‘practice makes perfect’ and ‘ you will never get better if you don’t work at something consistently’, there actually is a cut off point in working an accent. While setting that muscle memory is key and the only way to do that is to spend time on each sound, you must also be aware of muscle fatigue. You WILL fatigue more quickly at the beginning, before those mouth muscles get used to the new tasks you’re asking of them, so ease into it. Always make sure you do a proper warm up vocally and loosen up your face and tongue before each practice.
How to know if you’re fatiguing:
A key way to know that you’re getting mouth muscle fatigue is if your jaw is tightening up. Does it feel like you’re having to work that much harder to get the sounds out? Are you having less control over the sounds? Is your tongue feeling thick in your mouth? If you’re noticing any of these things, STOP and take a break. If you’re just practicing at home I would even say put it away until tomorrow. If you’re on set, obviously you won’t have that luxury so just do some muscles relaxation exercises and really focus on keeping the jaw loose and remember to not over work the sounds. Over working your sounds is like an express train straight to complete muscle fatigue.
So, how much is too much? Only you can really know that…you will be able to work out how much your mouth can take if you stay aware of your body. You will gain stamina pretty quickly if you go about it the right way and having done so, you won’t have created bad habits or broken down your con4idence in your ability to do the accent. Don’t forget that working a new accent is mental and emotional just as much as it is physical. So if all you can give it is 5 minutes a day-‐ make it a mad 5 minutes and really focus. Spending an hour a day on the accent is not necessarily a good thing…listen to your body. It will give you all the clues you need.