As winter turns into spring and spring into summer, there are more and more demands on the professional singer. Venues get busier and people start to book in music for their warm night weddings, parties and Christmas functions.
While my diary is starting to look busier, I need to be mindful of how much vocal work I take on, and the way in which I look after my voice during these busy months.
I am a performer and voice teacher and I have a BIG vocal load. I use my voice every day, whether it be talking to students, demonstrating to students, accompanying students, rehearsing with my band, performing with my band, warming up, or training my own voice.
On top of all of this, I am outgoing and I love a chat, a sing, a dance, and a laugh with friends and family.
So, over the past few weeks I have been trying to come up with some strategies to keep my voice feeling healthy and happy, while keeping up with the professional and social demands on my voice. I have been doing regular voice exercises throughout the day, drinking lots of herbal tea, heightening the pitch of my speaking voice, and even making sure I get 8 hours sleep each night. I booked in a lesson with my singing teacher (yes, I still have a teacher too), and she gave me an amazing piece of advice that I thought I would pass on to you.
Hilarious, right? How can we make our voices stronger and more resilient by doing LESS?!
The voice is one of the trickiest instruments to master, because it’s a part of the physical body. We can’t see nor really feel it directly. Yet, we use it EVERY day to communicate. So, we need to be mindful of when and how much we use it.
So how can you do less?
Relax the muscles of your body, particularly your face and jaw, shoulders and chest. Remember singing is a holistic activity. Every bit of tension within the body will affect vocal production.
Breathe slowly and deeply when speaking and singing. Take your time in speech and song. In fact, take your time when breathing 24/7.
Speak calmly, yet energetically. Remind yourself of how easy it can be to produce sound.
Be mindful of when and how much you speak and sing.
Rest often. Give your voice naps throughout the day.
Practice yoga – calm down and stretch the body.
Over the past weeks of teaching and gigging, I have been using these simple ‘do less’ strategies, and they have made a massive difference. I am finding that my voice feels free and more flexible. Speaking and singing feels easier and the words I speak and actions I take mean MORE.
Another piece of advise here...is to manage your vocal wellness habits:
Don't forget to ease-fully warm-up the voice before use.
Even more importantly, don't forget to cool down after - this can be even more important than a warm-up, as a cool down (the opposite of a warm up) can gently ease your voice back to resting and/or speaking mode after heavy singing. This helps avoid vocal loss a day after.
Keep yourself hydrated.
Have fun and stay positive!
Avoid over-loading and have periods of vocal rest.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk, sing, practice, laugh and play. But if you have a big vocal load like myself (if you are a teacher, sales person, sportsman, doctor, therapist, coach, parent etc.), it is important to remind yourself of producing sound with ease.
It CAN feel easy to speak and sing by mindfully reminding yourself to avoid over-loading, and over-doing your speaking and singing; to be mindful that the voice is strong, yet precious; to take action and make your vocal load achievable and comfortable.
Happy ‘do less’ voice using!
Until next time…