Thursday, March 23, 2017

How To Keep Your Singing Voice Healthy When You’re In A Function Band | Music Think Tank

Singing several nights a week can take its toll on your voice - especially if you’re belting out rock anthems in a function band. Keeping your voice healthy requires lifestyle adjustments, great technique and proper warm-ups. But even if you’re doing everything right, illness and stress can leave your voice strained and fatigued. Here are a few tips and remedies to get your voice ready for the stage, even when you’re not feeling your best.

1. Hydration
•    Hydration is important any day of the week, but keeping your vocal cords hydrated on gig days especially keeps them limber and prevents damage. While it won’t offer immediate relief - it can take about 20 minutes for drinking water to actually reach your vocal cords - it’s important to stay topped up when performing.
•    Up your intake of water during functions and make sure it’s room temperature. Extremely cold drinks can ‘shock’ your throat.
•    Avoid dairy. Dairy thickens mucus which can make vocal cords feel ‘clogged’ - you can help counter this by drinking even more water.
•    Steam - buy a small steamer from a chemist and take it with you to every function, it’s the only way to instantly hydrate your vocal cords and can work wonders on a tired voice.
•    Room temperature flat lemonade mixed with water can also help a tired throat recover (recommended by Game of Thrones and West End star Hannah Waddingham).

2. Warm-ups and Cool-downs
•    Always do a thorough warm-up before every performance. You’ll get more out of your voice, and feel more confident going on stage.
•    Work all the way through your range on a ‘bubble’, a hum and a variety of vowels. A vocal warm-up app can help you cover every base.
•    Don’t overdo it. A warm-up should be gentle and not too much hard work.
•    Wrap up warm in cold weather. Wear a warm scarf to help your throat stay warm and avoid colds and chest infections.
•    Many vocal coaches recommend a gentle cool-down after a performance such as slow, gentle sirens that work through your range.

3. Vocal Training
•    If you’re not gigging regularly, it’s important to keep singing and doing your vocal training exercises to keep your voice in good working order. This is the time to challenge yourself in your exercises!
•    If you’re past the point of weekly singing lessons, it’s a good idea to have a lesson every few months with a trusted teacher to make sure you’re not picking up any bad habits on stage.

4. On-stage Sound
•    Poor on-stage sound is the number one way to tire out your voice, as you’re more likely to over-sing when you can’t hear yourself.
•    Make sure you can hear yourself properly above the band. In-ear monitors are best, as you can control your own personal monitor mix and prevent hearing damage.
•    Do a thorough sound check with the band to make sure you’re happy with your monitoring.
•    Hiring a sound engineer is best to avoid fiddling with levels mid-performance.

5. Emergencies
If you have a cold or a throat infection that’s threatening to affect your voice, try the following:
•    Vocal rest. It might be tempting to keep ‘testing’ your voice, but just keep quiet for as long as possible.
•    Hydrate even more than usual - NO cold food/liquid, only room temperature drinks.
•    Hot drinks? Vocal coaches seem divided on whether hot drinks are helpful before a gig – some say they can have a drying effect, others say they can soothe the vocal cords. Go with what works for you, but avoid green and black tea, coffee, and alcohol. Many singers find honey and lemon works for them.
•    STEAM – steam as much as you can to get moisture directly to your cords.
•    Avoid decongestants as they artificially dry the throat.
•    Coughing tires and inflames vocal cords, so try cough remedies that dull the coughing reflex, such as peppermint tea. Drink constantly and take a warm flask on stage with you if you have a cough.
•    Plan your set lists carefully. Avoid your hardest songs or plan how to style out the most testing sections. Start with your least challenging numbers to warm up, and leave some for the end, when your voice will be most tired.
•    No whispering! This forces extra air through the vocal cords, which can irritate them.
•    Vocalzones throat pastilles can help in emergencies, but aren’t recommended for everyday use as they could mask underlying problems.
•    Perform. Even if your voice isn’t tip-top, you’ll have a range of tools at your disposal. You’re there to entertain your audience, so try to relax and focus on all the things you can do to put on a great show.

Written by Kat Dadswell and Hajar Woodland for Function Central, an agency for wedding bands, musicians & DJs.


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