Laura Clapp shares the secret for being able to talk and sing over constant noise for over 10 hours at a time – without losing your voice.
The annual NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim California maybe exciting, but it is notorious for being abusive to the mind, body and especially the voice.
Singers flock to NAMM, hired by audio companies to demo the latest gear with cool performances to draw in passers by.
Even those who are not required to sing need to keep their voices healthy or they won’t be able to network, market and negotiate.
Laura Clapp Davidson, independent artist and marketing director has worked as a demo artist at NAMM for about 10 years, singing, playing and wrangling the latest audio gadgets to impress thousands of on-lookers.
The alcohol, the lack of sleep, the dehydration and talking over the noise at NAMM – it’s awful for the voice –says Laura Clapp.
She figured out how singers – or anyone for that matter – can avoid destroying their voices when enduring the abusive conditions of a trade show. VoiceCouncil caught up with Laura after a demo session and found a quiet balcony where we could chat:
Eight tips to preserve the voice
There are a few things I do to make sure my voice stays as healthy as possible while I am here at NAMM.
- Hydrate. Keep drinking water throughout the day.
- Take breaks from talking. I try to take several 15-minute breaks in the day, but even 5 minutes makes a difference. One way to do this is to go to the bathroom. Just make sure you find a way to escape.
- Take a breath before you talk! If you are on a booth all day and using your voice as you normally would – it is not gonna fly. You have to give that extra gas, and to do that you need air.
- Gargle with salt water. This may help reduce germs and viruses from hanging out in the back of your mouth.
- Lessen inflammation. I don’t know if it is a recommendation to take Advil, but I take it because it just keeps the inflammation down of my whole whole body. My whole body swells when I am at one of these things!
- Correct your posture. Most people have reasonably good posture at the show because you are standing. But then you get to dinner and you are exhausted but amped up and so you don’t think about your posture. You slouch, which means your diaphragm is squashed and you can’t support your voice.
- Be careful at the restaurant. After the day at the show you want to go out and have a quiet dinner, but that is impossible! All the restaurants are full and loud. I think about who am I sitting next to. Who am I going to be talking to the most? I do not want to shout across to that person. Where you sit is often out of your control, but not always. When I’m at the restaurant, as soon as I realize I am not being careful with my voice, I sit up, I use my breath to support my voice, and I try not to let myself run out of breath as I’m talking.
- Try not to laugh with full gusto. It shreds my voice! I don’t know why, but it does. It would help if the guys I’m with weren’t so funny!
No help from dB limits
NAMM has a dB rating that you can’t go above, which means the noise level at a given booth is carefully regulated. Unfortunately, the dB limit is meaningless, because the natural din of the room is well over it. Many people don’t realize just how loud it is.
Alcohol and Adrenaline
Aside from the overall noise level, your voice takes a beating from the alcohol, air conditioning, lack of sleep, dehydration … the florescent lights – OK, those don’t exactly affect your voice, but they’re awful.
You are excited at a show like NAMM. You have all this adrenalin going from the day at the show – you are amped. This is why it is so easy to ignore your voice, until you get back to your hotel after dinner, try to talk on the phone, and you realize your voice is just gone.
NAMM is so fun but you are shredding yourself constantly. I’ve been here for a couple of days now, and I can feel the wear on my voice creeping – it’s grainy.
A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Laura Clapp has released several albums; her latest one, “Go,” with British producer Robbie Bronnimann. Her credits include an international tour as backing vocalist with 80’s synth legend, Howard Jones, as well as her own American tour, funded by her fans and CD sales. Along side her career as an artist, Laura has held various marketing roles, including several years as a demo artist for TC-Helicon.