Can You Always Sing Full Out?

Emma Sewell reveals that vocal stamina has its own technique.

Stamina. Stamina. Stamina. This is the challenge facing those of us with multiple vocal gigs each week.

You can’t always sing full out— and it’s very important to know when you can take it easy.

By this I don’t mean “marking”, singing with half your voice; nor am I speaking about the concept of a “silent rehearsal”, just going through the motions without producing sound.

It’s important to work songs into the voice and get the voice used to singing them—but how to do this without wearing yourself out?

When I rehearse I always sing slightly under the very top of my voice; by this I mean “not on full power” or at top volume.

Here’s one way of thinking about it: imagine your voice works on a scale of 1 to 10; 1 is very, very easy singing—no effort at all. 10 is as far as your voice will go in terms of power (this has nothing to do with pitch, that’s something else altogether).

When I’m in rehearsals I sing at about 4 or 5. For a first night or a press night I might sing at 7 or 8 maybe touching 9. On a long run I would be set to a steady 6 to 8 and for a really important one-off I may touch 10 once in a performance.

All the time I’m using all the technique and support I’ve learnt, especially support – check out these words from a few weeks ago

A firm knowledge of the level my voice can operate at and not give out that means I no longer ‘overstretch’ my voice.

Drinking teas, honey and lemon or steaming may be your “thing” (I like them all!) but these should never be a substitute for firm and solid technique.

On Tuesday I have the perfect opportunity to test it out: Maria-cover-rehearsals all day (this’ll be a “5” I should think, might go to “6” for “Lonely Goatherd” ‘cause I love singing it). Only an hour for lunch, then a 45-minute vocal call (a “6” or “7” as I’m singing the songs into my voice and it’s with the Musical Director!). An hour for dinner and then a show (I’ll be at an “8” here—it’s my job after all and we like to give it our all)!!

Wow: what a technique test!

If you have a question for Emma Sewell (who is currently covering for Maria – Connie Fisher – in The Sound of Music) you can email her via the VoiceCouncil editor:

  • It is interesting to test the quality and capability of voice to this technique test of vocal singing.

  • njenj

    you are fucking dum