October 10, 2017
THE LEAVES... THEY ARE A CHANGIN'
Hello Vocal Enthusiasts! Fall is finally here! I just LOVE the colours so much. It is a season of beauty and transition. It is also a busy time of year here at More Than A Song Studios! During this season, many students visit on a weekly basis with a similar goal in mind; to strengthen the voice. Although there is no magic wand that one can wave to make this happen in an instant, I can share one trade secret. Strengthening the voice does not have to be a taxing process, but you MUST TRUST the process and it requires time, effort, and PATIENCE!
If you are anything like me, I really lack in the patience department... Just sayin’!
The voice is much like other muscle groups in the body. For example, if you’ve worked out at the gym only once, you probably won’t have that desired six pack overnight… there is most certainly work to be done… and of course having a little bit of patience! 😉
The very same principles apply to the voice and singing.
Although I cannot help you in the patience department, I’ve compiled a Fall housekeeping question list to point you in the right direction for vocal health, strength, and stamina.
The 4 main questions I always ask are:
Are you hydrated?
Are you getting enough rest?
Did you consume too much caffeine or alcohol?
Are you practicing your warm ups or vocal exercises?
HYDRATION – As shared in the previous blog, your body operates at its finest when it is hydrated. I like to say… “like a well-oiled machine”. Lemon water will jump start your immune system, it is loaded with Vitamin C, cleanses your body, and reduces inflammation. Adding a slice of lemon to your water in a preventive routine will help your body remain inhospitable to sickness. But you MUST hydrate. There is no easy way out on this one.
REST – If your body is feeling tired and/or fatigued, listen to your body because it is probably trying to tell you to rest. Sleep is critical. Immune systems rely on sleep to maintain all around quality health. Your body repairs itself during the sleep process. Again, relating the voice to muscles and working out, if you are lifting weights at the gym and slightly tear a muscle, rest and sleep are the 2 main items that will speed up the recovery. The very same actions must be provided for the voice. It needs time to recover. One of the vocal greats, Celine Dion, engages in vocal rest for long periods of time. Sometimes, Celine will remain in silence for days, while holding up handwritten signs to communicate. It is an integral part of her vocal health.
CAFFEINE or ALCOHOL– Who doesn’t like their morning java or that delicious glass of red vino? Guilty as charged over here! However, too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Caffeine and alcohol are very damaging to the vocal cords if consumed in excess. These liquids naturally dehydrate the body as well as change up some of the natural processes going on in the body. For example, the vocal cords have a natural amount of mucosal lubrication which coats the muscle. When consuming alcohol, it acts as a vasodilator, which basically means alcohol is widening the body’s blood vessels. This can have adverse effects on the lubrication process in the vocal cords. So, I think it is important to recognize everything in moderation and to not over do it in the caffeine and alcohol departments.
WARM UPS/VOCAL EXERCISES – So many times, I hear students ask the question during their lesson “Do I have to warm up?”. In short, if you are in my presence… generally yes! I know most students want to get right down to the meaty part of their lesson time with working on songs, but bypassing a proper warm up or even regular vocal exercising can be a detriment to overall vocal health.
Generally starting with lip bubbles in a light warm up and building up the intensity will get blood flow to the vocal musculature. Vocal cords need to be malleable like muscles, (just as in any physical activity; singing is no different). A proper warm up at least 15 – 20 minutes prior to performance (much like warming up a car in winter), will aid in an overall solid performance. It is so very important to never push the body or force any sound. “Pushing” the voice will cause strain and could possibly lock the vocal cords into a wrong coordination, causing vocal tension. Vocal tension can’t be reversed once it’s happened. Try keeping your larynx neutral and avoid pulling up the chest voice and squeezing (flexing digastric muscle under the chin).
If you are unsure about a proper vocal warm up, I’ve created a complication of 10 simple vocal moments to help singers with the very basics. It can be found here.
Thanks for reading! I’ll catch you back here soon with more tips and thoughts! Happy Fall!