How Full-Time Singers Avoid Voice Trouble

How Full-Time Singers Avoid Voice TroubleYour voice is extremely dependent on your general physical and mental well-being -says Daniel Borch.

Many singers have found themselves with a fever and painfully inflamed throat just half an hour before a gig and thought, “OK, now what?”

Or that have experienced the icy hand of panic clutch their hearts when they realize that their voice is shot just three songs into a gig.

Why so high?

The reason for this anxiety may be the prevailing “pitch hysteria” in the music business.

If someone is forced time and time again to sing numerous choruses at the top of their range, their voice will give out

By this I mean that singers are sometimes forced to sing at extremely high pitches regardless of their natural pitch and physical characteristics.

Obviously, if someone is forced time and time again to sing numerous choruses at the top of their range, their voice will give out.

No one in their right mind would expect a hundred-meter runner to maintain top speed for ten kilometres!

Mind-Body Connection

Another cause of anxiety is that your voice is extremely dependent on your general physical and mental well-being.

Negative stress, worry, colds, lack of sleep and affect our vocal abilities and as these things can change from day to day, a singer’s life can be plagued by uncertainty.

“Fighting the bull” is an expression often used to describe a singer’s role both on stage and off as a leader of a band, a solo artist or as the leading role in a musical. The expression reflects the fact that the audience often focuses on the singer even if the entire ensemble contributes to creating the show.

The audience often focuses on the singer even if the entire ensemble contributes to creating the show

When Your Voice Is Shot

Obviously, it is difficult to hold the attention of an audience if your voice is shot. In order for a singer to give a good performance, it is essential that the other musicians are sensitive to his or her requirements.

If a singer feels that their voice is in trouble and wants to make changes in the performance, these must be accommodated as much as possible. Otherwise, the performance as a whole will suffer.

These changes may include transposing songs on short notice, tuning instruments down, extending a solo, dropping one or two songs or changing the set list so that the comfortable songs are at the beginning and the strenuous one at the end.

On the other hand, the singer has the duty of taking care of his or her voice. The band or ensemble shouldn’t have to compromise because the singer has talked too much, partied hard or neglected their instrument in any other way.

A day in the life of a singer

Rock, pop and soul singers usually work in the following areas: cover bands, backing vocals, choirs, demo singers for publishing houses, record companies, in their own act, as a singing waiter/waitress, and in certain musicals.

350x300-Schedule

A working week for a fulltime singer may be something like this (Source: Creative Commons, Pixabay)

It’s not unusual to sing up to twenty songs an evening, four to five days a week. On top of this, the volume on stage is often so high that it is impossible to increase the volume of the singer’s monitors without causing feedback.

To make up for this, one often sings louder than is healthy, which leads to voice disorders. This makes awareness of how your voice works and vocal care vital.

In the image to the right is a fictitious but realistic schedule that will give you an idea of what it takes to live the life of a full-time freelance singer.

It is important to be multi-faceted if you want to work professionally as a singer.

In addition to knowledge, technique and charisma, you need to be able to use your voice as economically as possible – the demands made on it are extreme.

The Above article is an excerpt from The Ultimate Vocal Voyage by Daniel Zangger Borch pp.93-94


My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry

Philip Dementiev Philip Dementiev - Love Me Tonight

You have a cool voice and your natural tone quality (I call this your “Vocal ID”) is lovely. I suggest you try to sing less “twangy.” Even though this is a part of your natural Vocal ID it is a bit overused, especially on the ’ai’ diphthong. Leave out the twang on a couple of those, then it will have more impact when it´s there.
On a song like this and with your kind of voice I would focus more on standing still to make people focus on your singing – when you move like you do now it takes some focus off the singing, at least for me. Try to stand there, maybe walk a little, slowly, then people will surely pay even more attention to that strong voice of yours.


Why I chose Philip Dementiev as a Finalist

Philip has a great voice and I liked his authentic performance.


DanielBorchBio

Daniel Zangger Borch is one of Sweden’s most recognised vocal coaches. He has been a regular on adjudicating panels for popular TV shows such as ‘Idol’, ‘True Talent’ and ‘X-Factor’. He is also a professional singer, recording artist (with seven albums) and songwriter. Daniel holds a PhD in Music performance and is Head of the Voice Centre, Stockholm and Zangger Vocal Art. His new book, book “The Ultimate Vocal Voyage” has been released internationally.