Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

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!

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) https://amzn.to/411cxpy 

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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  • At May 4, 2023 at 9:32 AM , Anonymous Dave said...

    Wow I wish I knew this advice back when I was on the road. So good!

  • At May 4, 2023 at 11:31 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Awesome you recognized the benefits of these tips, Dave... hey, perhaps your voice could use another little road trip so you can try them out! Never stop singing:)

  • At May 5, 2023 at 4:50 PM , Anonymous Denise Wakeman said...

    Wow, Judy these are excellent tips for speakers as well as singers. Actually anyone who travels a lot for business or does any type of performance could benefit from your tips.

  • At May 5, 2023 at 5:06 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Ah you are so right, Denise, glad you picked up on the benefit to speakers! It's the same voice that does both after all, but speakers tend not to address vocal health until problems occur. Thanks for the comment!

  • At May 6, 2023 at 11:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thank you very much for sharing this... Hope you friends find it helpful.


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