After chatting to a few other performers, we all have a similar worry at the moment about our voices. It is now at least ten weeks since I actually sang to a “proper” audience (I don’t count singing from my driveway, or on a video via Zoom…), and that old adage “You don’t use it, you lose it” has begun haunting me now that we are potentially seeing performances again on the horizon! I’ve tried to keep singing whilst I have been unable to perform, but there is a huge difference between performing in my home studio, and singing to an audience – so it’s a case of running through a routine to keep everything as healthy and lubricated as possible, so that coming back isn’t such a painful experience! If you are a performer, how are you keeping your voice in top condition? Here is the daily routine I’ve been following:
- Daily Warm Up: Okay, so I’m going to hold my hands up and say I’m terrible at warming up sometimes! I leave it until the last minute, and end up rushing through some deep breathing and a couple of scales, and away I go… It was my New Years Resolution, as I started designing my website, that I would rectify this, and throughout the pandemic, I’ve made it my mission to warm up daily. The shower is a great place for this, as my voice loves the warm steam – and it’s about the right length of time for someone who loves to dawdle, like me! I start with some breath control, followed by humming gently, and some scales. Sometimes, I will choose a song to quietly sing to myself too – recently it’s been Disney songs because we are obsessed with Disney+… It isn’t anything too grand, but it makes me feel like my vocal chords are what I call “relaxed” and warm by the time I finish my shower.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: People laugh at me, as I carry my water bottle everywhere. I’m the person that rocks up at your house holding it, and happily sips away. It’s one of those with a straw, and a timing strip, so I can monitor how much I drink (plus I’m funny about drinking out of glasses, and I don’t like the “smell” of water – but let’s not go there!) and it’s been even more important to keep my throat lubricated recently. Being inside constantly has left me with a stuffy nose, which makes my throat then feel dry; drinking regularly helps to combat this.
- Gentle practise: If I’m learning a new song, I won’t go straight in with singing it as loud as I would as if I were performing to an audience. I listen a lot, and hum the tune (which also warms my voice up some more) plus I do a lot of singing quietly. In fact, I will only sing loudly once I know I am confident with the piece – which can sometimes take a while! I will also gently sing through songs I already know – it keeps them fresh in my mind, and giving them a practise, which is always nice.
- Learning new skills: With so much spare time, I’ve been playing around with learning to trill. It started off terribly – but I’m starting to feel more confident. I searched for exercises on YouTube, and I’ve been following these. Learning new skills is a great way to strengthen your future performance, and keep your vocal chords in tip top shape!
- Throat sweets: I’m a massive fan of VocalZones – and I’ve been known to use them during lockdown, even when I’m not singing. If I feel even slightly croaky, I’ll take one, because I know how well they protect and help my voice! I wouldn’t be able to have my career without them! I also have a stash of lozenges, just in case I ever feel a sore throat coming on – but touch wood, so far I haven’t needed these!
- Taking it easy: What better an excuse than “looking after my voice” for a day of taking it easy. I’m a dance teacher as well as a singer, so my throat gets a battering from all of the talking I have to do – so there is nothing more wonderful sometimes than relaxing, not talking to anybody, and finding a quiet hobby to get on with. I’m a huge fan of cross stitching, and reading, and I will happily do both for hours – which gives my voice that all important rest.
What do you do when you know you need to be vocal ready soon? Have you been following a plan of exercises or a routine as well?