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A Strange Vocal Challenge

I’ve landed my first big singing job and it comes with a very unusual challenge: I could be called upon at any moment to sing for up to four people!

You see, I will be an understudy for Maria (played by Connie Fisher) for the National Tour of The Sound of Music.

But that’s not all: when I’m needed, I’m to cover three other parts, including another principle role— Sister Margaretta. I also perform as an on-stage “swing” which means that every night I perform my own “track”— this is the industry term for someone’s part throughout the whole show. If someone is off for any reason then I go on and perform their “track”.

Here’s my challenge: my voice is going to be working harder than it’s ever worked before and when you throw in the added element of touring, it makes for one interesting mix. I’m both anxious and excited but I want to be up for this challenge. After all, I’m finally doing what I was trained to do.

We all know what effect being physically tired can have upon your vocal health, but being mentally tired can also be a killer, as the general wellbeing of the voice is very closely linked to how you’re feeling.

Here is my vocal plan: I’m going to get plenty of rest and practice some good clean living—and no, I don’t mean merely cutting out dairy products; I mean eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking lots of water and having very little caffeine or alcohol. (I don’t believe in cutting things out totally). And finally, there’s always good vocal technique and the magic of steam—if in doubt, steam!

Will this be enough? I’ll let you know in two weeks when the show will have opened in Cardiff!

-Emma Sewell

The Sound of Music National Tour

  • garymckinney

    Physical stress does indeed take its toll on the vocal cords. I once played an outdoor concert in the middle of a large park. The problem was we had to lug our rock band equipment from the parking lot about a hundred yards away. Even though we had dollies, the distance, along with the hundred degree heat, really sapped me. I was so bad in my singing that performance that I sang terribly off-key — and the strange part is that I didn't even have a clue I was doing it. It was only later in reviewing the recording that I learned this. Ever since then I've sworn to use roadies.