OK, so I haven’t literally “been on the road” with a band. Most nights I was actually able to crawl into my own bed around 3 or 4 am. I had worked tirelessly for years at three and four-night weekend gigs, most of them requiring significant travelling before and after…anywhere from 1/2 hour to two hours each way. When I was younger I didn’t think about how taxing this lifestyle was on my body. I was having fun….doing what I love. I had the best job in the world.
However, as the years went by I began to notice the effects these gigs were having on my voice. I was growing more aware of the trouble I was having singing my “big” songs at the end of the night, and I noticed my throat was often sore. When I had a cold I would sing anyway, and almost welcome the hoarseness because it gave me a husky sound that I couldn’t otherwise accomplish. I would wake up in the morning with severe broken-up sound quality due to “pushing” through the hoarseness the previous night.
It took almost ten years to realize that my voice had gone downhill. Songs that once came easy with “big” notes were now a constant concern as to whether I could “push” them out.
My life changed when I started studying my voice…..and got a nice “little” house gig in a lounge. These two changes complimented each other nicely. My voice has since grown “bigger” than it ever was.
There is no more ideal way to learn how to sing better than to simply know about your instrument…how it works, how to take care of it, and how to exercise it so it will last you a lifetime!
I woke up yesterday with a cold and hoarseness in my voice. I had three hours of performance to do later in the day, so I knew it was going to be a tough one with a lot of careful attention and energy to complete the job!
First, I had a hot shower and my usual … pot of coffee. I didn’t utter a word until 2:00 pm. I did a few exercises of lip trills and light sirens. I took a moment to gauge where I thought I was with my voice, compared to my “healthy voice”. I was somewhere around a 6 or 7. My goal was to be 8 or 9 before leaving for my gig. I had two hours.
I continued to warm up my head voice lightly. I paid acute attention to my body and energy to make sure I wasn’t putting any undue stress on my vocal cords. I did some sit ups and took a walk around the block. I continued to sip water all day.
This has happened many times before and I have learned over the years how to pace the day and night. It’s a delicate balance. I don’t talk. I only sing ….. when it’s absolutely necessary. In this case, it was necessary or else I would be letting down many many people who simply wanted to enjoy their Christmas party!
I made sure I could hear my voice well in the monitor. I would be singing at about half volume, so this was doubly important for this gig. I chose my repertoire very carefully…no “big” songs during this show. Instead, I focused on my “presentation” with by body and with my facial expressions.
When the night was finally over I was totally spent. I had maxed out my vocal cords for this gig, and I was mentally and physically exhausted from the energy it took to maintain a careful journey to get me through to the end of the night…..but it worked! As I headed out the door with my car jammed pack with my gear, my employer waved goodbye and said “see you next year!”