By Cari Cole
Nothing freaks a singer out more than the worry about losing their voice on tour. Mama’s here to the rescue! After 30 years of coaching singers at my studio in New York City, I’ve gotten it down to a system, and I’m here to share it with you.
Keeping your voice performing consistently while singing night after night is no easy task. There is a certain amount of wear and tear that is unavoidable, there are several things you can do to keep from losing your voice, or it deteriorating on tour. Keep in mind, everything on this list is important. One or two without the others and you still may be experiencing symptoms. Best to follow the complete list for the best results!
1. Warming Up the Right Way.
Did you know that one of the secrets of a voice that delivers night after night is warming up the right way? Bear with me, there is a bit of a science to this. See, the voice is made up of a group of little muscles and your breath. If you only warm up by rehearsing your songs, you’re not getting the benefits that come from warming up your muscles and breathing. Just like an athlete stretches their muscles and warmups up in a specific way to get more out of their muscles, singers need to warm up their muscles before performance. For a longer performance we recommend a 20-30 minute warmup. For a shorter performance a longer warmup of 40 minutes. Our Singers Gift Vocal Warmups are specially designed to relieve your voice of tension, open your breathing and warm up your voice for performance.
2. Cooling Down Post Performance.
Another one of the secrets of vocal coaches like myself, is the use of cool downs post show. I once heard a voice doctor say that the impact of a 2 hour performance on a singers voice is equivalent to the physical strain on a linebacker in 45 minutes of a football game. The impact of performance on the voice causes a swelling on the vocal folds. Swelling that is slight to intense depending on the singers technique, or lack of technique. A solid vocal technique will save the voice from overuse or fatigue. However, there are also, specific cool down exercises that reduce that inflammation helping the voice return to normal quicker, eliminating the wear and tear of performing night after night. This is a series of “ee” exercises in a descending scale. You can find our cool downs in our Singers Gift Warmups, and a longer set for more stubborn vocal problems in our Vocal Rescue Kit in our Store.
3. Foods and Beverages That Damage Your Voice.
When my singers go on tour, I always lay out a recommended meal plan with a list of things to avoid, to stay in ultimate vocal health and avoid vocal loss or burn out. Because stomach acid can cause vocal problems, staying away from certain food and drink with make a huge difference in your vocal health. Best to stay away from overly acidic foods.
There is a longer list in my Vocal Resource Library (in our Store), but here’s a quick list of the three worst offenders:
- Fried food. Anything fried causes immediate reflux.
- Carbonated beverages. Seltzer, beer, Kombucha, champagne, stay away from anything bubbly which causes the stomach acids to come up to the vocal cords (burp, burp.)
- Marinara sauce. Fresh tomatoes are fine to eat, but tomato sauce is another issue. Tomatoes that are cooked into a marinara sauce are highly acidic causing stomach acids to come up and cause irritation and dryness on the vocal cords.
Just staying away from these 3 things during your tour will make a big difference in your vocal health and not losing your voice! If you are having problems try steaming for 5-7 minutes a day prior to your performance. Brings immediate moisture to the vocal folds.
4. Catching zzz’s.
Sleep. The one thing that you can’t fake when it comes to singing. A tired body is a tired voice. Singers need their sleep to sound good consistently. When on tour, bring things to help you sleep. Like an eye mask, ear plugs, lavender essential oil for your pillow (helps you drift off) and some natural sleep aids like Natura Sleep or the homeopathic remedy Quietude by Boiron. Catch your zzz’s and you’ll sound amazing every night!!
5. Natural Remedies.
Another list I give my singers when heading out on tour, is a list of natural holistic remedies to help with little issues that pop up.
Here’s a quick list of my favorites:
Vocal Eze Throat Spray: created by my friend Ocea Demer, this throat spray is still the best on the market. Her brilliant remedy, keeps your voice in great respiratory health, moisturizes your throat and feels like silk. Use often throughout the day to avoid dryness, and give your vocals and extra kick!
Oscillococcinum: Always have this on hand in case of a sudden sore throat, aching muscles or flu like symptoms. Will knock it right out of you. #brilliantremedy
MyPurmist Handheld Steamer: Nothing preps for your voice for singing more than an extra shot of moisture! This battery operated handheld steamer is a singers best friend. Use it for 5-7 minutes before every gig and notice how much your voice loves steam! Breathing in steam is the fastest way to hydrate your vocal cords, and hydrated vocal cords sing better high notes and help keep you from fatigue or burn out. You’re going to love it!
You got this!