Being a singer generally means your voice is your main instrument of choice. There are some awesome advantages to this (for example, not having to haul around a stand-up bass everywhere you go). There are, however, some disadvantages as well. I think every singer I know has experienced the terror of waking up the morning of a gig with a sore throat, felt paranoia set in along with the first cold breeze of fall, and desperately chugged a glass of water when they weren’t feeling 100 percent before jumping on stage.
As a singer, your instrument is part of your body, and unlike a guitar or a drum set, it can get sick. It can become fatigued, and, in some of the worst cases, injured. Despite all this, vocal chords are actually fairly resilient, and if you take proper care of them, you can prevent fatigue and injury, and even sing through some minor colds. Today I want to cover a few basic tips for taking care of your voice between gigs so you can give your best performance when the time comes.
• Drink lots of water
This is a pretty easy one. The more lubricated your vocal chords are, the better for your vocal health and the sound you produce. Drink water when you get up in the morning, drink it with every meal, and drink it before and during your show. Just make sure you know where the bathrooms are!
• Don’t drink lots of alcohol
Alcohol doesn’t hurt your voice persay, but it is dehydrating. It can also act as a numbing agent, so you may not realize you’re damaging your voice if you’re singing after you’ve been drinking. In general, save the alcohol drinking for your off days and after the show. If you drink alcohol the night before a show, make sure you drink lots of water before you go to bed and when you got up in the morning to get rehydrated.
• Don’t shout over top of loud music
This goes hand in hand with David’s recent blog post about preserving your hearing. As a musician, you work and play in many extremely loud environments. Just as that level of noise can be damaging to your hearing, trying to speak over top of it can be just as damaging to your voice. If your environment is too loud to speak at a regular volume, save the deep conversations for outside, or sit beside the person you are speaking to.
• Get a good sleep
It is amazing what a good sleep can do for you. If your voice is feeling fatigued, try to turn it in early. If you can sleep in the next day, even better! Sleeping is going to give your voice a chance to recover a bit, and sometimes that’s all you need to feel ready for your next gig.
• Listen to what your voice is telling you
Your voice is smart. If it doesn’t like the way you’re treating it, it’s going to let you know by hurting, sounding funny, or just not working. As a general rule, if something you are doing to your voice hurts, don’t do it!