Use It, Don’t Lose It On Tour - Vocal Management Tips

24 Aug 2018

Going on tour? Your voice is your gift and your living. Touring musicians have seen all the highs and lows associated with singing and vocal problems. Here are some tips to follow.

 

Before you go

  1. Choose the right singing teacher to train your vocal style and correct technical problems at the outset. A classical teacher won’t suit a rock musician.
  2. Be a vocal athlete - everything you eat and drink, including recreational drugs or smoking, affects your voice.
  3. Don’t sing when you’re sick - strain can lead to permanent damage.

Untrained singers think that if their voice is still working, they’re fine but that’s not always true. When you start doing lots of shows, and don’t have a regimen, problems can develop like raspiness, inconsistent tone, pitch problems and reduced vocal stamina.

 

On tour

1. Have a regime

Rest your pipes! Get a good night’s sleep - 8 hours along with a healthy diet and good hydration is crucial to a strong vocal performance.

Talking, whispering, coughing and clearing your throat exhausts your vocal chords, so be mindful. Speaking in a higher register helps to take some of the tension and weight away but may attract funny looks from your bandmates.

 

2. Take care of your throat!

  • ​Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Too much mucus is bad. Keeping your throat and nose clear helps a healthy voice.
  • Avoid dairy products that may cause mucus build up. Using products like nasal and saline flushes keep the nose and throat clear.
  • Steaming throughout the day keeps your throat from drying out during gigs. A personal steamer, a hot shower or holding your head over a pot of steaming water before and after a show is a cheap and effective method.

 

3. Warm up your throat

Bashing out songs and getting hyped before walking on stage is not a great idea. Waking up your voice with exercises like humming and lip rolls helps vocal cord closure, without wasting energy. Warm-up slowly for 15 to 20 minutes before a show.

 

4. …And cool down after

During gigs, vocal cords become inflamed. Take 20 to 30 minutes after a show to perform cooldown exercises. The drills for warm-ups can help reduce inflammation and fight voice strain by getting vocal cords to shrink down again.

 

Tech Tips

  • Use your microphone: let the microphone do the work to prevent voice strain.
  • Have good monitors: You need to hear yourself for vocal feedback. A floor monitor or in- ear monitors (called IEM’s) reflect how you really sound and what the band sounds like. You may be singing louder than necessary and straining your vocal chords.
  • Match your speaking voice and singing voices: You speak 99% of the time and sing 1%. A poor speaking voice often leads to vocal strain that will affect your singing voice. Train yourself to speak clearly and well on tours, particularly when giving radio and other media interviews.
  • Finally - listen to your voice: You’ll be the first to know when trouble is brewing. If you throat hurts and you have to sing, change your set, chose songs you can sing without straining your voice and get the band to back you up with vocals or instrumentals.