Ways to Protect Your Voice While on Summer Tour
Sometimes art seems effortless. Words flow on paper, and colorful pigments sweep across a canvas. This ease appears evident when listening to the voice of a singer. Vocal nuances can range from a low-range growl to high-pitched harmonies, but one thing they are not is effortless. Singers must fine-tune their craft with endless hours of practice and performance. A voice is an instrument, like a piano or guitar, requiring substantial care to maintain quality and longevity.
Many singers know that the summer touring season has begun. A booking agent has most likely organized an extensive list of logistics to make a concert tour run smoothly. Musicians and support staff understand their good fortune in utilizing music business software to address all aspects of touring for artists, singers, and bands. This technology has reduced the issues and stressors that have kept past performances from going off without a hitch. But one critical piece of successful touring that all singers must address is the continuous care of their voices.
Let's take a look at some helpful advice that singers can employ to protect their voices and maintain their vocal health during extended touring.
What is Your Voice?
A voice is a sound produced by the vocal cords and resonates in the throat and mouth, resulting in speech, singing, and other vocal sounds. It is an essential means of communication for humans. A person's voice is created through a complex process involving the lungs and the vocal cords in the larynx or voice box. These cords vibrate as air passes through them, thus producing sound waves that resonate in the throat, mouth, and nasal cavities, forming recognizable speech sounds, including talking and singing. Vocal characteristics are unique to each individual, just like fingerprints, and contribute to distinctive qualities such as pitch, tone, and timbre.
The voice is a powerful tool for expressing emotions and establishing social connections, which is evident when we listen to the voices of our favorite singers. From Taylor Swift to Tony Bennett, singers rely on their voices as their musical instrument and take great care in maintaining their health and quality.
A Few Best Practices to Protect Your Voice
Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is crucial for maintaining healthy vocal cords. General advice usually states that 8-10 glasses of water daily is needed to keep up vocal and overall good health. Still, singers may want to increase this number if the climate is particularly hot or dry.
Get plenty of rest. Singers should prioritize getting enough sleep to give their bodies and voices a well-deserved rest. A significant amount of healing can occur if singers ensure they get the rest they need.
Avoid bad habits. Smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol can damage vocal cords and lead to hoarseness and other vocal problems. Eliminating these substances, as well as breathing secondhand smoke and drinking caffeinated beverages, are great steps to take to preserve your voice during a long tour.
Avoid potentially damaging situations. It is wise that during downtime, singers avoid places where they have to increase the volume of their voice, such as speaking at loud parties or over loud music. It is also recommended to avoid vocal extremes like yelling or whispering.
Warm up and cool down. It is critical for singers to take the time to properly warm up their voices before each performance and cool down after they sing. These practices can include gentle vocal exercises, stretching, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques.
Use proper technique. Some singers can learn this on their own, or they may employ the services of a vocal coach. Honing technique skills can help singers minimize the strain on their vocal cords.
Use amplification. This advice may seem obvious, but it is still important to emphasize. High-quality microphones and speakers can prevent singers from straining to be heard. Discuss these equipment needs with your concert booking agency to ensure you have the right sound equipment for the road.
Take regular breaks. Sometimes it can be challenging to schedule breaks when additional responsibilities occur outside of performances. Many singers have to participate in meet-and-greets, publicity events, and interviews. During a busy summer tour, it is essential to be mindful of downtime when singers can rest and heal their voices.
What Can Cause Voice Problems?
Some determining factors have been addressed above, but it is always beneficial to emphasize some of the reasons like the following:
- Upper respiratory infections like cold, flu, strep, and COVID-19
- Inflammation caused by acid reflux (GERD)
How to Identify Problems with Your Voice
- Have you become hoarse or raspy?
- Have you lost your ability to hit some high notes?
- Does your voice suddenly sound different?
- Does your voice feel raw or strained?
- Is it difficult to speak?
- Do you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat and coughing?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a voice problem that requires addressing. Singers can change some behaviors to determine if that makes any difference in the severity of the problem. If issues do not improve or if they worsen, it is time to see a medical doctor like an otolaryngologist or a speech-language pathologist. Once the causes are identified, singers can adjust their habits and incorporate behaviors contributing to vocal health.
Most singers have customized the care of their voices. Some vocalists believe in additional strategies like sipping herbal tea with lemon and honey or drinking hot broth. Others love a steam room. There are many practical ways that every singer can keep their voice in top shape for each performance. Work with your booking agent or concert booking agency to discuss any concerns before your upcoming tour dates.