Many factors come into play in the never-ending battle to keep a singer’s voice healthy enough to withstand the “ravages of the road.” Most major artists like Tim McGraw, Adele, Megan Trainor and Keith Urban to name a few; seem to have vocal problems that may be boiled down to forgetfulness and time. What is it that turns a healthy voice into a voice problem? Let’s explore.
At the beginning of their career singers tend to be somewhat faithful about warming up, especially if they work with a vocal coach. A good warm-up routine warms up the voice, by stretching out the muscles used to sing. The vocal cords co-ordinate with the breathing and support systems prior to singing. However when a singer begins to tour there is so much activity going on prior to getting up on stage that they may simply forget this important step. Warming up the voice is crucial to keeping it healthy.
Breathing & Support
I see really good support at work in both my former students Tim McGraw and Keith Urban when they are reaching for high notes. You can see them bend their knees and lean back to support their tone with lower body strength rather than reaching up for it. But, the voice needs support at all times, even when speaking. It’s important to breathe low so that you are not using your throat to regulate the air flow. Breathing low helps support the sound so there is no pressure on the vocal cords.
“Hello Nashville!!! I’m happy to be here!” Stage patter to get the audience revved up for a concert is necessary to make them feel part of the show and to give the performer the boost they need to put on a great show. Artists tend to raise their voices when speaking to the audience, especially at the beginning of the show. Don’t give it all away in the first three seconds.
Touring involves a lot more than just getting on stage to sing. Radio and other media interviews, as well as simply meeting with the public and signing autographs, can take a big toll on a singer’s voice. If I were the “Person In Charge” and had my preference singers would not speak at all while on tour. Go practice your texting and save your voice for the show.
Water, water, water. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of H2O for a healthy voice. It’s common knowledge that healthcare professionals tend to recommend drinking 8 glasses a day. And it’s important to limit or stay away from alcohol which dries out the throat. Switch to water instead, More artists lose their career to drug and alcohol abuse than to any other factor.
Also I highly suggest, especially in the winter months, that you carry a small humidifier with you that you can use in your hotel room. Not only will it help keep your vocal cords nice and hydrated, but your skin as well.
It can be tough to get a good 8 hours of sleep while on tour. You perform until 10 or 11 (or later), there’s usually a party you “MUST” attend after, then you need time to wind down. By the time you are ready to sleep, the rest of the world is waking up start the day. Doing whatever is necessary to get a full eight hours of natural sleep is very important to keeping your pipes in tune. Stay away from reliance on sleep aids. That’s a very slippery slope that can lead to a vicious cycle of trouble between “uppers” and “downers.”
Last but not least, allergies that are not treated can blossom into all kinds of vocal problems. A running nose and cough may be the least of your problem. Unchecked allergies can lead to more serious health issues like bronchitis and pneumonia. Get to a physician at the first sign of allergies. And, if you suffer from them on a yearly basis consider seeing an allergist for shots for your particular allergies.
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