How should I train my voice?

So I’ve been jogging lately to get in better shape and stay healthy.

The first time around in my neighorhood is my warm-up. I start out walking at a medium pace and by the end of the round I’m ready to step it up.

The second round I’m jogging. I set a pace that has me breathing in a rhythmic pattern that I know I can endure to the next round.

By round three I’m feeling tired. I’ve reached my peak and my technique is starting to fail. I go back to walking the rest of the way home.

Why am I telling you this? Because this is a good way to train your voice.

First round is your warm-up. Second round is your work-out. Third round is your warm-down.

How long each round is can vary, and what you do each round can vary. For me, lip rolls and sirens through my entire range is both my warm-up and warm-down. My work-out is my longest round, but that’s because I’m in good shape (vocally that is, certainly not jogging!)  You may find you spend most of your time in the warm-up, and your round two of working intensely is for only a short time. That’s OK. Being a vocal athelete takes time, commitment and training….regular training, every day.

The show must go on!

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!”