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How to Protect Your Voice Around Musicians


Beth Trollan gives her top 5 vocal safety tips when you are surrounded by instrumentalists.

Checkbox   Use the Force: Choosing the right musicians to play with is a mix of chemistry, friendship, mutual respect, musicality, and sometimes budget restraints. Not a belter by nature? You may have to be particularly careful with choosing the right musicians for you including and most importantly, a sensitive and dynamic drummer, who plays to your particular voice. He/She will lead the band with volume and intensity, so be sure you are moving with and not against the force, Luke.

check_02Chariots of Fire: Warm up your voice and get your fire going. Early morning rehearsal? Try 20 quick jumping jacks & 20 steady sit ups plus a good breakfast before you even think of vocal warm ups! Singing takes strength and endurance. If you’re not in a professional rehearsal space, you may encounter unfit, low quality, PA amplification due to the expense of a good PA system. This can make practicing with musicians a physical challenge, so be prepared, pace yourself, and you will reach the finish line like a champ with your chariot blazing onwards.

check_03The Road Less Traveled: You may need to repeat a song again and again while working with musicians. If so, request practicing at a low volume and/or with acoustic instruments to weather the traffic jam on your voice. Some musicians may not want to turn down – Ouch! This could be a red light for you in terms of considering long term working relationships with these musicians, especially if your requests are not taken seriously. Convey your needs in a polite yet firm way and avoid gridlock, fatigue, and ultimately damage to your chords by not choosing that beaten path.

check_04 Go with the Flow: Have room temperature water and juices nearby. Herbal teas with honey can be helpful to the voice but be sure the tea is not too hot in order to avoid scorching the folds in a quick needed sip between songs or phrases. Avoid caffeinated drinks as quenchers; they dry out the voice. This way you can easily keep up with the demands of the rehearsal or show. Sometimes there is no time for a break. You’ll be in the flow of the music, with the musicians, and your instrument.

check_05Find The Mute Button: Sit out while they work it out. This can help save your strength and voice. If the band is rehearsing a song and just can’t get it or needs more time, don’t be afraid to protect your voice from overuse. If they insist, and you feel you need that break, explain yourself and suggest instead that one of the other band members play the melody (piano or guitar). Some musicians will even like to sing when given the opportunity. You get a vocal break and they take center stage for a while. It´s a win-win situation!

-Beth Trollan

Beth Trollan is a Brooklyn born singer/actress from New York. She is a published songstress and collaborative lyricist. One can see her hit the big screen this year in Grand Piano in the supporting role of Emma’s Publicist, a thriller that finds itself where the worlds of Hitchcock and and Speed collide. It stars…  More About Beth Trollan

  • Brook

    I like it. If you have a normal singing voice, blending with a screamer and a basher will probably never work.

  • Anne-Laure, singer and voice h

    Part of Tip 4 is nonesense…
    Yes, Drinking is essential for any kind of physical effort, including singing, but water is enough.
    No, Juices or herbal tea provide nothing special to the voice, neither does coffee damage it, as absolutely nothing you swallow goes through the vocal folds! The vocal folds are part of the breathing system, not the digestive system, so there are no interactions between what you est/drink and your voice health.
    Yes, Keeping the voice structures hydrated is important, so if you rehearse in a very dry, hot or dusty atmosphere the only way to rehydrate your larynx is inhalations: take a break, inhale over a bowl of hot water (only water, essential oils can be very irritating) and have your voice rest for at least 15mn before going back to singing.

    Thanks for the other tips, very useful!

    Anne-Laure, singer and voice healer