All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast by Judy Rodman: May 2023

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Singers & Musicians: Get Fit, Not Hurt! (Angela McCuiston Interview)


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Getting physically injured can temporarily stop or permanently end a music career. My guest Angela McCuiston, founder of 'Music Strong', has developed a specialty career in fitness training and rehabilitation exercises for music makers of all kinds. Listen to this interview to hear Angela and I discuss some vital fitness strategies that can improve muscle balance, endurance and strength. A musician herself, Angela understands the stresses of our vocations and the stakes involved! - LINKS - Find Angela at: Find me at:

Topics we discussed:

  • Angela's own playing-related injury episodes that eventually led through frustration to creating 'Music Strong', where she helps musicians get fit for more strength and endurance, and get targeted remedial exercises for muscle imbalances and injuries.
  • My vocal cord injury leading to my work with injured voices.
  • Angela's integration of multiple protocols of healing, including Alexander Technique, Barbara Conable's body mapping, Eva Amsler's dynamic integration
  • Some key physical issues of guitarists and pianists that she works with.
  • The importance of muscle balance - including the muscles working the singer's chest and head registers.
  • What older music makers should look for in a personal trainer.
  • Angela tells us about the programs she offers through 'Music Strong', such as her personal workout sessions, instrument-specific fitness training, her 'Covid Comeback' program, and her proposed 'Music Strong Wellness Center.
  • The highly effective free exercises Angela offers on her Youtube channel
  • And more!

More About Angela:

Angela McCuiston is a NASM-CPT, CES, SFS and CETI-CES (Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist and Cancer Exercise Specialist). She is the owner of Music Strong, a business that specializes in personal fitness training for musicians.

Her studies include Alexander Technique, Barbara Conable's Body Mapping, and Eva Amsler's Dynamic Integration as well as Neurokinetic Therapy.  

Winner of the 2007 NFA Piccolo Master class, Angela received her Master of Music in Flute Performance from Florida State University and her Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Tennessee Technological University. Angela is Assistant Principal/Piccolo of Sinfonia Gulf Coast of Destin, Nashville Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony and Nashville Flute Choir. Joining the military soon after 9/11 she recently recently transferred to the 313th Army Band in Huntsville, AL, after
completing a 16-year tenure in the 129th Army Band in Nashville, TN. In addition to her solo performances, she has performed with such celebrities as Kristen Chenowith, Pink Martini, Jamie Bernstein, Morgan James, Chris Mann, Nancy Griffith and Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

Recently she was sought out by the Old Guard, Army Fife and Drum Corps as a special consultant to prevent playing related injuries. She has been sought out for numerous other positions including becoming a provider for MusiCares (A musician’s wellness division of The Recording Academy: the Grammy’s) and completing her 4-year appointment as Chair of the National Flute Association Performance Health Committee.  In August 2020, Angela also joined the faculty at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN as professor of flute.

In February 2019 she published her first book: The Musician’s Essential Exercises, and recorded over 20 instrument specific workouts available for download. She also offers a comprehensive workout program she calls 'The Covid Comeback' for musicians coming off a long hiatus from playing.

Most recently, she has transitioned her focus into building a musician’s wellness center in Nashville, TN. The center seeks to be the first of its kind, bridging the gap between traditional and holistic medicine, offering comprehensive and concierge wellness care for musicians.

What About YOU?

What experience do you have with playing- or singing- related injuries? What helped you? What mysteries remain?

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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Singing On The Road? 12 Tips For The Voice On Tour

The road can be a dream come true, or a vocal nightmare!

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Singing on the road can be one of the greatest joys of having a voice. It can also be filled with unexpected events which you have to learn to roll with. However… vocal issues can mostly be avoided if you know how. In fact, when you consistently use good technique and strategy, you can end up with your voice stronger and less fatigued as the tour goes on! Many of the artists I’m working with, including the stunning Hall Sisters are gearing up for big summer tour season. Lots of consecutive day shows, some long ones. They know that taking care of the voice for the Olympic event-level vocal performance needed for every show is crucial. Here’s some advice I give for protecting and growing your vocal stamina on the road:

1. Bring Food 

...with you when you travel that gives you energy and doesn't exacerbate phlegm or acid reflux, just in case the backstage fare is not good. Especially if you travel by bus, bring salads, fruit, protein snacks. hummus, whatever works for you. Eat what gives you stamina but not heartburn and doesn't bog your digestion down before performance. Here's more about what to eat before you sing.

2. Bring Extra Water 

Be sure to drink enough water on non-performance days, too. Consider bringing little cans of pineapple juice in your luggage to you always have some on hand to dilute with water and bring onstage. Another remedy you might try is cayenne pepper on anything you eat or drink. I have several more solutions in my 9-page ebook ‘Vocal Health Tips’ – get that free download from my website if you haven’t yet. Herbal teas can be soothing, but steer clear of dehydrating drinks like black tea. If you drink alcohol, do it after your performance, not before, and for best vocal results, limit it altogether while on tour. 

Stop smoking. Yep. That means you. Yer welcome. Here's a book that helped me do it years ago: The Easy Way To Stop Smoking (Amazon - paid link) 

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

3. Steam Your Throat 

...with showers or hot baths as you get ready for your gigs, and also when you get into your hotel room from the dry-air vehicle or drive or flight. Consider bringing portable humidifiers, especially in super-dry climates you’re not acclimated to. That includes Las Vegas!

4. Get Quality Sleep

Sleep is as important as food and hydration for the voice. When singing on the road, sometimes it's difficult to get the zzz's in: you sleep on the bus, arrive at the hotel in the middle of the night, have to get to soundcheck... but talk this out with your road manager before you leave and plan the time to get quality sleep. You may need a sleep aid like melatonin, Sleepytime Tea or whatever healthy thing works for you. Talk to your doctor about a non-habit forming, safe sleep remedy recommendation.

5. Do Physical Workouts

15 – 30 min short workouts on gig days to warm and limber you up for performance and keep your core toned for singing. Do physical stretches to ease tension, and when short on time, try Tabata high intensity workouts. You can put a Tabata Timer app on your phone. Consider bringing workout DVDs and any physical workout bands, ropes, etc you could use in your hotel room or on a bus. If your budget allows, consider taking a personal trainer on the road with you.

6. Do Not Neglect To Do Vocal Warmups ! 

Also, after your longer gigs especially, take 10 min to cool down after your gig. This can make all the difference in how your voice feels the next day! What’s the difference in a vocal warmup and a cool down? A cool down is generally a shorter vocal exercise routine and incorporates more of your head voice register to ‘re-lift’ your voice, which in non-formal genre performance has been using more of your chest register.

7. Limit Talking

...and when you DO talk, pull your words. When with the public and signing autographs, do more listening and smiling than talking. If at all possible, try to schedule media interviews for AFTER your shows instead of before. Discuss this with your management or whoever schedules these things in advance.

8. Center Yourself 

10 minutes before your gig, try to find a quiet corner and don’t interact with anyone. Just center yourself, mentally send your presence out to occupy the venue. Prepare yourself by imagining the first verse you’re about to sing on your first song. Ignore distractions like an Olympic athlete preparing to ‘bring it’.

9. Get Monitors Right

Make sure you have enough vocal level so you don't have to push those strong notes during performance.

10. Wear Both In-Ears

If you wear in-ear monitors (iem’s), wear BOTH, not just one, to save your hearing! Before performing with in-ears, try to schedule time to work with a sound engineer to get used to wearing them, and to know what to ask for in your monitor mix.

11. Do After-Show Snapshots

As you warm down, take a quick inventory... how does your voice feel? It should feel better than when you began the show. If not, try to figure out why. Remember that no matter where you are, can always schedule a vocal lesson or consultation with me on Zoom or in a phonecall. You can even warm up with me backstage or in your dressing room.

12. Have a BLAST! 

You're taking care of your voice so you can ditch the worry!

Have other tips or strategies from your road singing experiences? Please share in the comments! 

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