The physical demands and stressful aspects of vocal performance can decrease the ability of the immune system to fight off infections – says Dr. Rachael Gates.
My advice: Establish routines that increase your general well-being and help you maintain a healthy singing voice.
1. Exercise with purpose
Just by walking a minimum of twenty to thirty minutes at a consistent, comfortable pace every day, you may find that you have more energy and cognitive sharpness.
Eurhythmics, Alexander technique, Feldenkreis, yoga, and dance are recommended conditioning options for singers for their ability to reduce stress and visibly contribute to stage presence and poise.
Power lifting is not recommended as it requires strenuous compression of the vocal folds and can overtax laryngeal musculature. If you do lift, be sure to continue breathing throughout exertion to avoid holding your breath.
2. ‘Warm up’ don’t ‘wear out’
The vocal folds benefit from being warmed up and stretched before intense use.
Begin your practice by vocalizing with light and easy exercises in your middle register before moving gradually into voice exercises (vocalises) that involve your high and low registers.
Condition for a performance months ahead. The night of a performance, avoid extreme vocal warm-ups that would tax the muscles and potentially cause vocal fold swelling.
Time spent warming-up may depend on the time of the day, the time of the month for some women, when and what you last ate and the level of difficulty in what you’re about to sing.
Be very careful not to oversing or rush into your extreme top and bottom ranges. Keep in mind that the reason you warm up the voice is to be able to sing your loudest, softest, highest and lowest without strain.
3. Give yourself a cooling off period
Beware of post-performance receptions. In noisy crowds you may push the voice to be heard
After an intense singing session, use vocalises that are light and gentle to cool down. The easy cool-down will prevent blood from pooling in the blood vessels of the vocal folds and will prevent tightening.
Avoid talking for approximately 30 minutes after an intense practice or performance. Beware of post-performance receptions. In noisy crowds you may push the voice to be heard. Such strained speech can easily damage the vocal folds after a taxing performance.
4. Allow your voice to rest and recover
Your voice’s muscles need to replenish nutrients through rest. As you use your voice for long periods of time, the muscles stop contracting as well and you begin to feel fatigue as you lose more and more muscular control.
Once you stop singing or talking and thus begin to rest the voice musculature, you start to regain strength and control.
When we refer to building better stamina, we are referring to muscles that are becoming more efficient at bouncing back after rest periods. No matter how fit a person is, no one can go on contracting a muscle forever.
The body needs short breaks. You need the rests written into your songs and you need the breaks between songs during a concert to help stave off fatigue.
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Chelsea Snow - The Star Spangled Banner
Nice to see this confidence in one so young! Careful that your pauses for breath remain in time musically, but I applaud you for taking your time with the Anthem rather than racing through. Be careful – your tone is pressed and your pitch is inconsistent – sometimes flat and sometimes sharp. However, way to be a diva with the high note! Finally, you may find it be better to put pitch pipe in pocket rather than set on ground.