Perils of the ‘Split Shift’ Singing life

Perils of the ‘Split Shift’ Singing life

Work during the week and sing on the weekend? You can survive the vocal challenge – says Kim Chandler

Most audiences have their downtime on weekends so this is when they want to be entertained.

So, it’s no surprise that most gigs happen on weekends. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are work time for many singers…

This can lead to what is also known as living a ‘split shift’ life, i.e. living in one time zone and vocal activity level during the week and a different one on weekends. This is particularly true for people who also hold down a ‘normal’ job during the week (i.e. semi-professional musicians), but can even happen to full-time professional vocalists….

This working pattern brings inevitable vocal challenges that I find myself offering advice about on a regular basis. Some singers seem to think that their voices should be ‘on tap’, but they’re not. They don’t sing at all or very little during the week and then sing for hours & hours on the weekend – it can be a recipe for disaster!

So how can we survive this split shift life?

1. Take post-weekend voice rest, if necessary.

This is advisable if you’ve gigged all three nights in a row and therefore may be vocally a little tired. Take Monday off singing, speak as little as possible and steam. If the gigs have been on Friday and Saturday night, take it vocally easy on Sunday. Once this short rest phase is over, you need to get vocalizing again to prepare for the next weekend of gigs.

2. Maintain a vocal cross-training program throughout the week.

I advise fitting in around three hour-long vocal practice sessions before the weekend gigs start up (i.e. one hour per day). For advice on ideas for a vocal cross training program, please consult last week’s article.

3. Short, effective pre-gig warm up and post-gig cool down.

It’s not recommended for vocalists to do a long practice session or even a rehearsal on the day of a long gig. A 5-10 minute warm-up, short sound check (and not of your most vocally challenging song!) and a 5-10 minute cool down at the end should suit most singers. Up to 10 minutes of steaming the voice when you get home is also advisable.

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Josh Schott Josh Schott – “Sh-Boom” (Cover)

It’s always going to be challenge to replicate a 50’s Doo Wop tune with just one singer, but you did a good job of recreating the original track. Your lead vocal is definitely the highlight. Some of the harmony parts were a little heavy in the mix, and there were some note choices that require a rethink, e.g. the bass part that generally should be root notes. I felt that your version could’ve benefitted from a more musically adventurous arrangement, something to bring a new angle to it to freshen it up for 2014. This retro style certainly does suit you though.

Jaq Mackenzie Jaq Mackenzie – “Mama who bore me” (Cover)

Being from a musical, the original has a more musical theatre interpretation, but it certainly works with your more pop interpretation. It’s heartfelt emotionally. On the technical front, I’d prefer to hear a more natural, less heavy ‘effected’ vocal sound. And whilst it’s great that you’re having fun using your G-XT and most of the harmony lines work, there are a couple of notes that don’t quite fit that you might like to look at changing, e.g. major when they should be minor and vice versa.

João Ramalho João Ramalho – “Get Lucky” (Cover)

This song certainly seems to be one of those ‘songs of the moment’! It was an interesting idea to loop the backing track yourself, but I’m not convinced that you needed to take the key down a tone from the original as it makes the thing sound a little heavy. You’ve got a lovely tone & vibrato that particularly shines through in the pre-chorus, but I don’t think you needed the doubling effect. Another couple of points, you didn’t sing the correct melody in the first line of the verses and please work on your “th” sounds so that they aren’t “d”s.

Kim Chandler is featured in TC-Helicon’s Ultimate Guide to Singing; she is also known by vocalists throughout the world for her popular “Funky ‘n Fun” vocal training series.

Kim Chandler is one of the UK’s top contemporary vocal coaches and session singers. She runs a busy private teaching studio and recording studio in London and is a Principal Lecturer at Leeds College of Music. Kim is the immediate past President of the British Voice Association, choir director for Abbey Road Studio’s corporate recording sessions and creator of the popular “Funky ‘n Fun” vocal training series.

  • Roojam

    Good stuff Kim. The hardest part for “split shift” vocalists is perhaps,….staying focused while on the job job! Singing is so rewarding!