Award-winning vocal coach Judy Rodman tells singers how to keep the voice in optimum condition.
Your vocal apparatus is built to do amazing feats that require great muscular strength and coordination.
Those tiny vocal cords inside your throat work hard, mostly automatically. But your voice needs your help and protection to stay healthy and operate optimally.
It needs you to fight for it! Here are some strategies that can help:
1. Learn Healthy Speaking Habits
You use your speaking voice much more than your singing voice.
If you chronically speak with vocal “fry”, through a tight throat channel or from shallow breath you can wear your voice out before you even start to sing.
You will also be practicing wrong vocal form… constantly!
Pay attention to the way you power your speaking voice, and from where the sound resonates.
You should not feel it coming from your throat.
Use your eyes and move your head back over your tailbone. Feel the difference when you speak this way to reinforce helpful changes.
Finally, don’t try to talk over loud noise at, for example, a meet & greet after your concert.
If someone can’t hear you speaking at a volume that won’t stress or fatigue your voice, lean in, mime your words or shrug your shoulders, smile and silently indicate ‘sorry – too loud in here’!
If you speak with good technique you should never experience vocal fatigue, even when you have to be on the phone for hours.
2. Don’t Fight to Be Heard in Performance
Ask your band to turn stage monitor volumes down. Consider plastic cage for drums. Try not to station yourself in front of electric guitar speakers!
I strongly encourage you to invest in a pair of in ear monitors (IEM’s).
This will help you with the almost irrepressible instinct to push your voice too hard when you can’t hear yourself well or accurately enough over the onstage amplifiers, drums, crowd and venue noise.
While custom fitted ears are more comfortable and have more functionality, inexpensive ones don’t require hearing tests and fitting for ear molds.
The more expensive ones such as Sensaphonic’s 3D Active Ambient have features such as dialing in a degree of ambient sound to the mix.
No matter what kind of ‘ears’ you get, do wear them in both ears to protect your hearing. You can pull both out loosely to get a bit of ambience acoustically.
Remember that 20 minutes of yelling can result in blood blisters on your vocal cords – the beginning of nodes.
3. Trust in the Healing Process
Even when a voice experiences organic tissue damage, it is almost never irreversible.
I know from personal experience, having lost an octave and a half of my vocal range from being intubated on a hospital ventilator.
Of course you don’t want to take advantage of the healing process – a long career of singing is built on healthy technique – and good speaking habits.
– Judy Rodman
Judy Rodman is an award-winning vocal coach, session singer, recording artist, songwriter, producer. Creator of “Power, Path and Performance” vocal training, named “Best Vocal Coach” by NashvilleMusicPros.com, she trains singers and speakers nationally and internationally. Judy authored PPP vocal training courses, “Singing In The Studio”, “Vocal Production Workshop”.