Vocal trouble: it’s not just for famous rock and pop icons anymore. But hey, Adele (twice now, so sad for her), John Mayer, Keith Urban, Sam Smith, Alison Krauss, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, Paul Stanley and Meghan Trainor have all had problems and/or surgeries that sidelined them temporarily…and could have potentially sidelined them permanently.
(Not to mention the injured classical singers who don’t usually come forward, as the stigma can have serious repercussions with regard to their careers.).
Why singers get vocal troubles
What the #$^%$# is going on? And how can we protect ourselves and be smart?
– We don’t only have gigs. We have promo radio shows, press conferences, interviews, live chats, …much more time spent using our voices than singers did back in the day.
– We’re sometimes thrust into the spotlight due to circumstances like winning game shows or becoming video channel sensations and haven’t had adequate training or preparation.
– There may be no break between recording an album and touring (sometimes it’s all happening at once!), so schedules can be insane due to the need to ride the iron while the wave is hot, or whatever that saying is. Five days on, one day off, with press and promo in between and no down time…oy!
– With late nights and burning the candle on every end comes more coffee, late-night dinners and snacks in our tour bus bunks, which can lead to gastrointestinal distress that can muck up our esophaguses (esophagi?) with acid reflux. No good for singing!
– Singers talk more than we ever have BECAUSE WE HAVE PHONES GLUED TO OUR HANDS AT ALL TIMES. And we talk in really loud places like trains, planes and tour buses. Very tiring.
– We feel like we have to do this now, and please everybody and not let anyone down, which keeps us physically and emotionally stressed and tired…and susceptible to vocal tension, which can lead to muchos problemos, mis amigos.
How singers can prevent vocal troubles
So…what do we do about this? Well, firstly, we realize how deadly seriously we have to take this if we in fact want what we say we want (to be the best singer/songwriter/entertainer/global icon we can be) and then we:
– Get as close to eight hours of sleep a night as we can so we’re rested for our 6am radio shows. We learn to support our speaking voices well. We learn that brevity is the soul of wit, especially on show days.
– We learn to form our team early on so they’re there for us when we hit the big time: voice teacher/coach, ENT, accompanist/MD (musical director), body worker, speech pathologist…whatever you need.
– We remember the three S’s: SLEEP, STEAM AND SILENCE. We do our best to exercise and stay healthy on the road. We save it up for the show (easy on the socializing, my friends!). The show must go on.
– We eat healthily and wisely, even if that means we go more bland/easy at times. We eat our last meal/snack three hours before bed. We do voice warm-ups on an empty-ish stomach. We take as few tummy drugs as possible and try the natural stuff first (like apple cider vinegar, ginger and peppermint, ahem).
– We talk waaaaaaay less. We become men and women of mystery. We email and text more than talk on show days/five day runs. We learn how to eradicate bad speaking habits.
– We take our emotional and physical health seriously and do everything to relieve tension: meditate, yoga, massages, therapy…we keep stress out of our bodies, necks and throats by any means necessary!