I am a great believer in listening to your own body, hence, what might work for one person – might not for someone else. Whilst there are exceptions to some areas, we can agree that we all need energy to sing. When you feel very poorly or run down it is really difficult to sing, and it is the time when I realise just how much energy singing requires! This post is to try and encourage a healthy ‘singing’ friendly way of life to help get the best of your voice! I will start by saying fruit and vegetables are a must. No exceptions.
Water gets a big tick – not too cold, not too hot but at a nice room temperature. Starting the day with a warm lemon, honey and ginger drink can be great as these ingredients all have strong anti-viral properties- they help to keep nasty bacteria at bay and so are loved by singers. The acidity in lemons can cause a feeling of ‘dry throat’ so you might not want to drink lemon directly before singing. Small meals high in vitamins, minerals and easy to digest (like salads with some protein / a light rice or pasta dish / toast ) are a good choice a few hours prior to singing + fruit and water on the go. Please don’t go without food all day if you are singing/ recording / rehearsing- remember… you need the energy.
People always ask me why they shouldn’t have ice in drinks when singing. Well… would a runner hold an ice pack on their calf muscles just before sprinting? No, because this will cause the muscles to constrict and probably do damage to the body! So in the same way, we don’t want to put ice near our vocal cords before singing any more than we do fizzy drinks, caffeine, or alcohol. I would stay away from gloopy dairy products like yoghurt, chocolate, peanut butter etc. I do admittedly have soya milk in tea when I sing sometimes and feel fine… but again- you have to see what is right for you! For instance; Some people swear by curry to clear their sinuses – where as, for others, this might result in awful acid reflux!
On a slightly controversial note (see what I did there), I have my reservations on ‘vocalzones’. For me personally, they are so strong and can potentially numb some of the feeling in the throat. I want to feel exactly what is happening in my body when I sing at all times and so would opt for a milder sugar free lozenger. Or a simple steam. If you don’t have a steamer, simply boil up a pan of water, hold your head over it and breathe in slowly for 2 minutes with a towel over your head. Singers on tour will steam throughout the day and especially after flights with lots of air conditioning. Obviously be careful using hot water and steam just for a few minutes at a time.
A typical day if I was recording
- 8am: Use a steamer + make a lemon/ ginger / honey drink
- 9am: brown toast and plain scrambled egg (no milk) for breakfast,
- ** Bottle of room temp. water to hand all day- NO ICE OR VERY HOT DRINKS **
- 1pm: salad with some protein i.e. nuts, quorn chicken
- Rehearsing in the afternoon – Some fruit for snacks – anything with high water content is good
- 6pm maybe some pasta / rice dish (NO THICK CREAMY SAUCES)
- Let me know if you guys have any tips – what you think of this article in the comments below
This doesn’t need to be excessive but the body needs to be fit enough to maintain a high level of focus and energy required to sing. Try doing your singing practise after your work out for some good results! Always remember both work out and vocal cool downs.
I would personally prioritise feeling relaxed and de-stressed over vocally warming up (sharp inhales every where)… If you are trying to vocally warm up stressed -then the muscles will potentially constrict, resulting in damage rather than aid. Experiment with meditating, yoga, calming techniques and the deep breathing singing exercises should also encourage the feeling of relaxing.
SCARF AND HOOD
Even in doors, when you don’t think you need to wear a scarf… wear a scarf! This is recommended for keeping the neck warm and toastie at all times + protection from harsh air conditioning units. A scarf is for a singer, what leg warmers are for dancers so look after your neck and throat as best as you can at all times.
Yup!.. Back to the old energy levels- If you are exhausted, you cannot function. Sleep well, support your neck and back, and be aware of your posture during the day (I need to take my own advice here)>
We covered this above but steaming is really, really good for your voice- do it as much as you can!