MIXDOWN MAGAZINE ARTICLE
Yes it’s that time of year again! ALREADY! The silly season, the Christmas season, whatever you want to call it. This time of the year can be especially hard for singers. We are dealing with Christmas parties, late nights, lack of sleep, busy schedules, more alcohol, more food, more social engagements, more travelling, more people to interact with and ultimately more stress. On top of all this, there is also the usual seasonal changes and weather elements to contend with. My hay fever has been wreaking havoc the last few weeks! So, it is unsurprising that it is so much harder to sing!!
So in this month’s article, I’m going to give you a few handy tips and hints that as a singer will help you survive the silly season and the changes in the weather.
SURVIVAL TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
1. Sleep and rest. You’re probably saying, “yeah right, this time of the year… highly unlikely!”. But try to get as much sleep and rest as your body requires. Some people need more sleep than others. This is especially important for singers as this is the only time that your voice is completely at rest and not working. Because you will be socialising as much more at this time of year it is likely that from the moment you wake up, you will be speaking and conversing. This means, you will be utilising the same vocal cords you do as when you sing. Sleep is imperative for singers for vocal rest, recovery and to recharge the vocal cords and also the body and mind.
2. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day but especially if you’re drinking alcohol. Drink alcohol in moderation and try to alternate a glass of water with every few alcoholic beverages that you have.
3. Eat well. It is the time of the year that eating badly can become norm. Not enough time, crappy finger food, late night eating, skipping breakfast and junk food left sitting around the workplace, rehearsal studio or home. The human body is a machine and you are only going to operate and function as well as what you put into it. If you put bad fuel into a car it will run badly and the same goes with your body and voice. Try to eat the best that you possibly can and in moderation. Include as much as fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. During this time, a good quality multivitamin can greatly help you out as well as Vitamin B if you need a pick me up – particularly after a big day or night!
4. Regular Practice. Keeping your voice and chops up this time of the year can be difficult but try to keep your regular vocal practice and singing regime. If you miss a day, try to do a little bit more the next day if possible. Practice makes perfect and is especially important if you are gigging around this time of the year
5. Learn to Say NO! It is a busy time of the year. Running around, social engagements, shopping, Christmas parties, family gatherings, deadlines and so on. Learn to say NO to unnecessary commitments and engagements. Say NO to activities that you aren’t interested in so you can free up “me time” to practice, recharge, stress less, to do whatever it is you want now and then!
TIPS FOR SURIVING THE ELEMENTS
Hayfever. If you have ever suffered from this, you know that it can be especially bad at this time of year. Especially in Melbourne, I have been in Austria (Yes, the fields are alive with the sound of music) in the centre of a field of wildflowers in the middle of spring and not had a single hayfever symptom. But in Melbourne! That’s another story!
Natural eastern medicines are great but a couple of Telfast tablets really do the trick for me, plus they also keep me awake. Nasonex nasal spray – I cannot endorse highly enough. Not only does it clear the nasal passages but it is an amazing care for postnasal drip if you suffer from this, as I do. Flushing your nose and sinus cavities with a saline solution to clear any mucus build up or pollen with a sinus rinse bottle is also highly effective. You can purchase this from a chemist.
If it is a very windy day, try to avoid going outside or alternatively, go to the seaside where the air is fresh and doesn’t contain a lot of pollen. Try not to rub your eyes or nose and stay hydrated.
Heating and air-conditioning. Both of these can cause havoc to a singer and can have a very drying effect on your voice – making it especially difficult to sing. To function correctly, your vocal cords require lubrication to make them vibrate together evenly, smoothly and correctly. Air conditioners are particularly notorious for having this drying effect as they suck all the moisture out of the air. Try to replace the natural moisture in the air by replacing a moist towel in front of or on top of the unit (keeping safety in mind). You can also try using a steam humidifier. These are fantastic and give the same effect as being in the shower. Again, you can purchase one of these cheaply from your local chemist and as always be sure to drink plenty of water of you are in this sort of environment.
Pollution or bad air. Pollution, bad air, second hand smoke, dust and pollen all cause numerous irritations including asthma, hayfever, dermatitis and other allergic reactions. In this modern day and age, we are dealing with so many more man-made artificial pollutants. For god’s sake, the automobile was only invented 130 years ago, there was no cancer 80 years ago, we sprayed chemicals underneath your armpits every day to keep you dry! These are all chemicals and pollutants that can affect your body and voice. Work out what works for you, go natural and organic. Or simply just take a walk in the park or the beach and inhale some fresh air. I have traveled South East Asia extensively and a lot of people wear dust masks out in the street to avoid these sorts of reactions.
In summary. Finally, a good GP or chemist can also help you out with a lot of different information to make your singing fun and easy throughout this time. I know that most of this isn’t conducive to the rock’n’roll lifestyle that we think that singers need to lead. But realistically, you are only going to sound and sing as good as your voice and body feels. So get in touch with your body. If it feels good, do it. If it doesn’t, then change the way you do things or what you are doing until it does.
Enjoy your Christmas and take these tips on board and your singing will benefit because of it!
By Peter Vox