I just recently survived a stretch of 17 days of singing 4-7 hours each day. And my voice was still strong! And I don’t mean singing simple little mid-range tunes; no, I mean heavy stuff like tunes from Adele, Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys and the like, as well as my regular varied range of originals and cover material.
I’d like to share what helped me stay in shape through a vocal marathon:
1. Get plenty of rest.
Everyone is a little different, but for me, I need a solid 8 hours to be in tip top shape. Some people are ok with 7 hours. Whatever amount of sleep you need to feel fully rested is the amount you should aim for every night.
2. Always warm-up before the gig.
A 20-30 minute warm-up works best for me, but 15 min is a minimum to last a 4-hour gig night without any noticeable strain. Singing is a very physically engaging activity. Just like athletes needs to warm-up and stretch before a work-out or strenuous activity in order to reduce the likelihood of injury, singers need vocal warm-ups.
3. Drink plenty of water – i.e. stay hydrated.
I know this sounds cliché but it is SO important. Your voice is an organic instrument – your body is your voice – and we all know that we need plenty of water to stay as healthy as possible. Your voice needs it especially. However, I would avoid drinking cold water on the gig. Room temperature is better based on the natural laws of physics that cold causes matter to contract.
4. Warm down AFTER the gig.
Only within the past few months have I started to actually warm down after the gig, and I noticed improvement in vocal facility immediately. Just like athletes stretch after a work-out, singers need to warm down after a gig.
Did you think I was going to tell you about some magical lozenges or tea or something? There’s not much remedy for an abused voice that I know of except for rest. This is why I am an advocate of being proactive with your vocal care routine. We all know that an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
While I have heard that there are exercises that work as vocal therapies for over-blown chords, what I’m promoting here is a routine that, combined with proper singing technique, will help your voice last so that you don’t have to implement vocal therapy in the first place. As far as other therapies are concerned like the infamous honey with lemon or throat coat tea, I don’t really use those types of things except for when I get bronchitis or other respiratory illness. But it’s always good to experiment and find out what works best for you.
I hope you find this information helpful. Please always feel free to leave a reply or send me an email directly if you have a question or comment. And best wishes on your next vocal marathon! 🙂