With so many artists seeking advice and consultation for vocal problems, I thought it would be prudent to give you my 10 top tips for looking after your voice, preventing damage, and keeping it at optimum health. Here is Part II.
6. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep-deprivation for most people can be horrid, but as a performer, we need even more rest than the average person. Sleep is great for refreshing the body but also to lower blood pressure. A good night sleep can help with anxiety, stress, nerves and focus. Awake with a large ice cold glass of water to rehydrate and get the brain ready for action.
7. Keep Calm and Breathe
Keeping calm is intrinsic to keeping nerves and anxiety at bay. Learn how to breathe properly and learn how to use to help you focus. Meditation, yoga and pilates are also excellent in support this. Don’t just head for the bar when you’re feeling anxious – this will actually make it worse. Good breath control is great for many things including helping you deliver those big money notes, monologues and triple threat moments.
8. Know how to party
We’ve all been there. A late party or night out typically before a big performance day. We say to the host that we’ll have one drink and an early night, but then it leads to a second and third. You then realise you’re drunk and it’s gone midnight! You wake up the following morning exhausted, hungover and have a splitting headache. Sound familiar ? Well, there’s nothing wrong with a drink but you have to look after yourself and your voice, and if you want to deliver a great performance don’t fool yourself by thinking it will be ok. It won’t. You might feel ok by the time you get on stage but you can be pretty sure you won’t be on top form. Plus the noise in bars and clubs doesn’t help. You end up having to shout to be heard, and deafened by the noise. So, think about that and what your priorities are. Alcohol is a killer on those vocal folds, not to mention the rest of you, so moderation is key, and make sure you get that all important sleep the night before, don’t overproject the voice, and try to keep a calm environment. Enjoy yourself but remember the importance of rest and preparation before a performance to make each one count.
9. Loosen up
There’s nothing worse than being rigid on stage. You need to be flexible, able and physically relaxed. Some good cardio exercise will help that a great deal plus stretching/yoga/pilates is great for calmity and suppleness. Exercise is a good friend to the performer. Embrace him.
10. Learn the art
The art of performance is about getting everything in balance. Not only do you need to take note of the previous 9 tips, but to maintain great vocal technique at the same time. So many performers leave education, or finish with a vocal coach and think that’s it. They are done. How very wrong. You need to maintain technique and you need to continue seeing a vocal coach, especially when an important performance looms. Even the very greatest stars of stage and screen continue to see voice coaches. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your technique can sag without professional guidance and support. Your vocal coach will also help you rehabilitate after illness, prepare you for performance, help with stamina and give expert advice. Never underestimate just how much they can help you in the short term, the mid-term and the long term.