NOTE: This is part 2 of a 2-part series. If you haven't read part 1, find it here.
6. Nourish your body like your voice is attachedThe way some singer and speakers neglect the care of their physical bodies, you'd think the vocal cords aren't attached. Newsflash... they are!
Your body can't create good energy for singing out of donuts and m&ms. Eat clean, simple, healthy foods that you digest well. This means menu planning should be part of road or pre-show preparation. Good food won't necessarily be easily accessable everywhere, and inevitable 'stuff that happens' can create sudden schedule cram, with little time to sound check and no time to hunt for food. Bring protein snacks and water everywhere, and stock your room or bus fridge with fruits and veggies. If you take nutritional supplements that you've found work for you, don't forget to pack them!
Avoid acid reflux... bring digestive enzymes or whatever meds your doc has prescribed, and eat only what doesn't cause you heartburn. Even good stress can mess with your digestive system, so treat it with respect. Your voice will thank you.
7. Work your body out like a pre-game athleteYour muscle tone, flexibility and core strength can really affect your vocal ability and your voice's succeptability to strain and damage. Use wisdom... to reserve your energy for performance, save your strenuous workouts for between tours. Before a show do gentle stretches and light physical workouts, being especially careful with free weights so as not to strain your neck and shoulder muscles. Your voice will be much more ready for performance demands if your body is, too.
8. Avoid voice saboteurs
Steer clear of the following like the voice destroyers they are:
- Avoid alcohol, which is dehydrating, interferes with vocal control including pitch, and can allow you to punish your vocal cords without realizing it. Also it can make you be stupid in sundry career damaging ways. At least before and between shows, abstain.
- Avoid smoke, whether from cigarettes, wood burning fires or wildfires. The fine particles you breathe in will of course irritate and interfere with the workings of your lungs, but also will irritate the lining of your throat, including your larynx and vocal cords. If possible, don't let yourself be booked in smoky places.
- Avoid ticks! The Shania Twain story about losing her voice because of Lyme disease from a tick bite really is a thing. She did fully recover is now back with her first album in 15 years. Most artists don't recover from such a loss of momentum. Don't take chances with your voice or the rest of your health... use bug spray if you explore tick infested areas.
- Don't avoid your fans, just wash your hands a lot, and keep them away from your face! The blessing of lots of hands to shake means lots of opportunities to catch something your voice doesn't want. Keep your immune system rocking with your chosen supplements.
9. Use in-ear monitors you've rehearsed with.During most of my former MTM Records career I used wedge monitors, and I got used to hearing my voice that way. But it's very tricky to learn to 'feel' where pitch is when you can't hear it. Now in large venues I use in-ear monitors. There are lots of different kinds ... the cheaper ones come with standard ear tips, then you go up a level and get ear impressions made for a custom fit. Quite a bit more expensive are the ear monitors that give you the ability to dial in some ambient sound from the room. Whatever type you use, be sure to practice with your in-ears and your sound person to get used to how they sound to you. Oh... and protect your ears as well as your voice... never use just one. Stick them in both your ears.
10. Stay in touch with your vocal coachEven if you start your busy hit career with naturally good instincts for singing correctly, you can become stressed, tired and worried, all of which undermine good vocal technique. If your voice is important to you... when you finally experience career success and the performance load that comes with it, you need a vocal coach to keep your technique at its peak and correct sneaky saboteurs that can snuff out the career you've worked so hard to build.
I suggest the following habits:
- Warm up with vocal exercises before every show... and make sure you've been trained in the correct form for your exercises. Most people don't know that doing vocal exercises wrong is just like doing physical exercises wrong... it won't help you; it can hurt your voice!
- Cool down after the show with light vocal exercises.
- Take a snapshot check of the condition of your voice after every show. Check in with your coach for an online lesson if you experience any sign of vocal strain - don't let it build! If you're singing correctly, you should never get vocally tired... only physically tired and hungry!
2 Bonus TipsWhen writing this 2 part series, I initially had 10 tips for you, but then thought of a couple more that are too important not to add:
11. Be Prepared for the emotional ride
12. Know what to do about laryngitis
Not There Yet?If you haven't yet gotten there to hit-land, but you're successful enough to be doing lots of performances or public speeches, or you are just doing more performances than normal, pay attention to these tips I just gave you. If you want to gain more ability for career purposes, consider professional vocal training. If you're interested, I can work with you in person, by phone and webcam. You can contact me at www.judyrodman.com.
And do check out part 1 of this series with tips 1 through 5 if you missed it.
Did I leave something out? Join the conversation - your comments are most welcome!