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
5 Vocal Tips That Can Help You Right Now
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 don’t want to be caught in a position where you need more time. Stretch the vocal folds like you would any other muscle group – smoothly, carefully, and over a steady period of time. The younger you are, you might not need a lot of time, but as you gain years you will likely need a solid 30 minutes minimum to feel ready to perform. 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).
Set yourself up for success: practice regularly by yourself and at least once a week with your band. Your daily solo practice should include warming up, breaking down trouble spots in songs, potentially writing new melodies & lyrics, and putting sets together (the real endurance training portion). For most A level performers solely focused on performing, this can total anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours in a day. You’re not great because you didn’t practice, you’re great because you practiced!!
3. Don’t sing too loud
A number of clients that I work with at the Shelton Private Voice Studio, whether college students or pros, often sing too loud. Subconsciously this could be a number of reasons:
- 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.
There’s a number of ways to reduce singing too loud-
- 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.
Whatever your do, try not to exceed a 7/10 as your loudest volume. It’ll improve your stamina, help you recover quicker between gigs, reduce risk for vocal injury, and give you room to grow during the set.
4. Cool Down
Often neglected just as much as warming up, cool downs are more crucial now for high level, endurance based singing like metal and rock. Remember that analogy about the marathon from number 1? Don’t neglect your muscles refusing to cool them down after a full day/night of singing. Admittedly, I came to cooling down later in my career, but the more I do it, and the more I emphasize it with my students, it’s changing vocal games every day. 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.
SOVT = semi-occluded vocal tract
5. Shut Up
Stop. Talking. So. Much.
If you’re the manager and lead singer of your band, it’s time to delegate responsibilities. Believe me, someone else can talk to the venue manager, roadies, groupies, and handle the bulk of the conversation(s) pre-show with interviewers, meet & greets, etc. Too often the venue is already noisy when you arrive, and you don’t need to waste voice trying to talk/yell over everything else. Save it for the warm up and then have a thrilling performance for your set. When I pop backstage before a Lords of the Trident set to see Fang, I often find myself yelling to communicate so I can only imagine what he’s already endured before seeing me. Save your voice for what matters and let someone else take the lead!
Don’t Stop Here
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1. Rest When you’re on tour, this is sometimes the most challenging thing to accomplish. Basically, you need to understand how much sleep you need