Sustainable Voice part 1

This was the first of a series of columns that we wrote for Rave, a local Brisbane music magazine. There is a bit of repetition with some of the other entries in our blog, but I thought that it was worth including.

As this is our first column and we don’t have any real questions
yet, let’s pretend that a singer has asked me how to maintain their
vocal health…

Q. I sing in a band and and I find that at the end of a gig
I’ve got no voice left and if I have to do two or three gigs in a row
I’m really in the shit. We’re touring soon and I’m worried.

A. You are the singer. You are the primary focus at the front
of the rock behemoth. The reputation of your band can live or die
relative to your performance. You must be good and you must be
consistent. My number one recommendation (unsurprisingly) is to find a
good singing teacher… but here’s some stuff to consider….

We’ll break this down into four sections.

1. Be particular.

2. Be a diva.

3. Get equipped.

4. Learn.

1. Be particular.

Remember, singing is very serious stuff. Live or die stuff for your band…

Your body is your instrument.

So… eat well. Lots of wholemeal stuff and greens. No chilli
(sigh), no dairy and check that you are aware of any allergies that you
may have – maybe you feel like crap all the time because you can’t eat
wheat (or whatever).

Drink well. Lots of room temperature water (no ice – your voice
hates it). No diuretics (drinks that dry you out – think coffee, soft
drink, alcohol – even fruit juice can be suspect – water all the way).

Drugs are horrendous for your body and pot is the worst for
your voice – you can’t cool it and it rips the crap out of your voice –
you’re not Bob Marley either, so don’t use him as an excuse.

Get fit. If you can’t run for about forty minutes without
getting puffed, you’re not ready to really front the band. Mick Jagger
and Steven Tylers fitness is an embarrassment to everyone under the age
of 50. I also heartily recommend Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gung as great
voice sports.

Don’t talk over ambient noise (touring vans, loud music etc).
This is really tiring for your voice. Send the rest of the band out to
talk to punters after the gig if you’re touring, or minimise your
involvement (difficult for Indie bands I know, but you’re the singer –
you’re particular and a diva – it’s in your job description).

Get plenty of sleep! Your voice and body must have time to recuperate (tough on tour but it’s sleep or sing…).

And finally, do some simple, relaxing vocal exercises so that you know where your
voice is at before you hit the stage, warming down is also a good idea.

Next month I’ll give you some diva instruction, help you spend
money at your local music store (just like a guitarist) and point you
in some learning directions.