Mixdown Magazine Article
*Posture when singing
Stand up when singing or doing your scales workout in a relaxed posture. If you are sitting please try to keep your upper torso relatively straight and relaxed.
*Vocal care, health and general well-being
Stay hydrated, drink room temperature water before, during and after scales and singing.
Try not to consume dairy products before singing. Dairy products may create mucus and phlegm and therefore make it harder to sing and control notes.
Try not to eat spicy or heavy meals before singing. As you already know we will need to use the diaphragm and stomach muscles to support notes. So if you have a full stomach this will make it more difficult for you.
When doing scales and singing please do not feel any strain, hoarseness, scratchiness, irritation, pain or discomfort. If you are please stop and focus on the right technique and very importantly do not sing songs or scales that are out of your comfort zone or vocal range.
After you finish your scales work out your voice should feel invigorated and your body energized. Your voice is a muscle and should feel like it has had a workout, the same as if you had worked out a muscle in the gym or had gone for a jog etc. So please do not work your voice to exhaustion.
If possible try not to sing the 1st 2 or 3 hours after you have woken. Your voice will still be waking up, feeling groggy and have more phlegm and mucus on it than usual. You will feel your voice will react a lot better after you have been awake for 6 hours or so.
Alcohol will dehydrate your voice and make it more difficult for you to sing and maintain control.
Smoking is just plain bad for your voice and general health, especially if you have been smoking more than 5 to 6 years. After this time it will start to diminish your range and change the tone of your voice.
The bottom line is that the better you feel physically and mentally the better your voice will naturally sound
Taking proper care of your voice!
*Warming up and cooling down after singing
It is very important to warm up and cool down after you do you scales or sing. Just like you would stretch, limber and warm up before and after you play sport, the same thing should be done before you sing.
*Your physical regime and general health.
The bottom line is, the better you feel are your voice will sound. You are a physical instrument and you were using lots of muscles when you are singing e.g. your stomach and diaphragm, your neck, face and throat muscles.
Here are some physical exercise’s that will greatly benefit singers.
- Any cardiovascular work a few times a week is great.
- Anything that gets the lungs going expanded and air into them. Remember you are a wind instrument being a singer. Walking quickly, running, swimming and martial arts are great.
If you are on the way to a lesson, rehearsal, recording session, show or audition you can warm up in the car and do a few of the easier scales. As I have mentioned before I strongly recommend doing scales and singing standing up or if you are sitting down, try to keep the upper torso relatively straight. A bedroom or living room with a mirror is generally good.
*General fitness and body awareness for the advanced singer
If you can, exercise at least four to five times a week and try to eat well.
Sit-ups or Crunches at least three times a week is an absolute MUST. If you don’t do any other exercise as a singer, please do these abdominal workouts. Anything that strengthens your core and abdominal area, such as Pilates, yoga or martial arts is also highly beneficial. Your abdomen is where all breathing, power, strength, stamina, support, projection and vibrato come from. The stronger your core and abdomen the better, as it is responsible for the majority of our work.
Cardiovascular work outs a few times a week are also great! Cardio will get your lungs moving and expanding, taking air into them and breathing it out. Remember the vocal chords are a wind instrument.
As a singer your whole body is a complex instrument that needs to be physically trained. I personally have found that walking fast, running, swimming and martial arts are the best exercises to do on a weekly basis.
If you put low quality fuel into a car it will run and perform badly. The same goes with your body. If you put low quality food and drink into it, you will ultimately perform badly! So be sure to eat a balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables. The better you feel the better your voice will sound!
Always keep tabs on how your body is feeling. Ask yourself each day, “How am I feeling today?” If you are feeling a bit flat before starting your scales or performance, eat or drink something that is going to pick you up and give you a boost such as a banana, green tea, or a vitamin B supplement. Never push yourself too hard if you’re not feeling well. A saying I often use is, “This too shall pass” and it will, whether it be mental or physical.
*Warming up, stretching and limbering the voice, body and mind
Before doing the Advanced Professional Module, I highly recommend that you spend 5 minutes doing some mild stretching and limbering up of the body. Again, we are going to be using most of the muscles in the body. The stretching will consist of some light stretching of every major muscle in the body, but let’s spend a little more time stretching the abdominal and core muscles and loosening up and stretching the neck and shoulder area.
While I am doing my light stretching routine, I try to keep my eyes closed focusing on deep, slow diaphragmatic breaths, very similar to the breathing techniques I have learnt while doing yoga or meditation. Breathe in until you feel your lungs expand right down to the very bottom, then breathe out all the bad air and thoughts that you have in your mind. Try to clear your mind of all distractions. We want to be solely focused on what we are about to do and accomplish, and that is to sing with our whole body to the best of our potential. Once I am in a great calm state of mind, free of all distractions, I then put on some music to get my mental energy back up and focused.
With the music still playing, I’ll spend another minute doing jumping jacks, jogging on the spot, skipping or shadowboxing just to get the heart rate up and blood flowing so that I am energized and pumped up before I start my scales!
By Peter Vox