You may sound great in the shower, but how do you translate that bathtub bravado into a killer live sound? Here’s five essential things you
10 ways to stay in peak vocal shape on tour (+ A BONUS POINT)
When you’re on tour, this is sometimes the most challenging thing to accomplish. Basically, you need to understand how much sleep you need to function, how much talking you can or cannot do to sing well, how to relax in close quarters with others, and how to recover from an intense experience. When I was touring with an opera company, we were often early to bed and early to rise— and I’m a social guy, a night owl, and not a morning person— so I struggled the first few weeks getting into the groove with everyone else. However, my warm up routine is my sacred time to unlock my voice, and I know I can rely on it as long as I have 6.5 hours of sleep.
Touring presents a number of issues that affect your hydration. Climate in various settings (the van/bus, the hotel, outdoors, altitudes, et such) causes us to need more or less water. When I consult with singers in the Shelton Private Voice Studio about their tour and performance habits, I spend a wealth of time talking about hydration. Energy drinks are the worst offender because of their high caffeine content and because folks are rushing from city-to-city. Which leads me to the second greatest offender: a lack of time to take a rest stop. “I don’t want to have to stop” is the phrase that makes me cringe. Do yourself a favor planning ahead: add two hours to your trip so you can plan for a stop or two and traffic!
3. Eat Decent
Every city has some glutinous culinary delight that’s deep fried, smothered, salty yet sweet, spicy and savory that you can take part of. HOWEVER. You have to know what’s going to set you off physically. Whether it’s gastric distress or old fashioned heart burn, it can affect your ability to function at your vocal peak.
4. Don’t talk too much
Quiet Time is Crucial Time!! Let someone else put on the manager hat for the band and talk to venues, sound techs, fans, and save your best for the stage. You don’t need to try and warm up over all the noise so you might want to do some of it before going to the venue and do a flash warm up when you get there. Save your voice for what matters and let someone else take the lead!
5. Warm up
Don’t neglect the simplest thing you can do to center yourself and boost your performance. Schedule plenty of time to warm up vocally, and physically, for the show in a quiet place so you don’t blow yourself out. Warm up in a steady way like a slow cooker. Singing your full show/set is like running a marathon, you want to make it to the finish line without injury, and enough stamina to do one more lap (an encore in our case).
6. Sound check
7. Don’t Over-Sing
- some folks want to “prove their point” vocally by going hard,
- sometimes it’s a bad habit, or
- sometimes they have no other training to sing at a reasonable volume.
- Use ear plugs/cotton balls to plug your ears,
- Use in ear monitors,
- Practice with a mic and small amp,
- Self-discipline (a.k.a. Practice!!), or
- Ask your teacher.
8. Imbibe.. modestly
9. Cool down
Just as important as warming up, cooling down keeps you at rockstar levels vocally. Remember that analogy about the marathon from earlier? Don’t neglect taking care of your muscles after a full day/night of singing just like any other endurance athlete. There’s never a bad time to start doing a cool down; it’s changing vocal games every day. Just. Start. Doing. It. Use SOVT exercises like bocca chiusa, straw/hydro-phonation, and blowfish are great after singing and speaking. BUT only cool down just before you’re ready to be quiet for the day/night. It doesn’t have to be long, but a solid 5 to 10 minutes in a medium to low range should do the body good. (Wanna make it even more fun? Get a kazoo!)
- SOVT = semi-occluded vocal tract
10. Have A Sick-Out Plan
11. Know Your Non-Negotiable Comforts of home
Don’t Stop Here
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What makes a good frontman or frontwoman? Sure, you’ve been practicing and know the parts, you’ve memorized the words and the melody…but how do you
1. Warm Up Too many people neglect this simple element. Schedule plenty of time to warm yourself up vocally, and physically, for the show; you