Sure you don’t call it ‘Singer’s Remorse’ but you know what I’m talking about. It’s now Sunday evening, sometimes it kicks in Monday morning and your voice is tired…weary…worn out and you wished you hadn’t done _____ the morning before. For you Youth Lead Worshipers it probably kicks in on Thursday mornings if your service was Wednesday night.
Being a vocalist in Southern Louisiana where our winters are more of a roller coaster of ice, wind, and rain in the 30s one day, muggy, cloudy, and moist in the 70s the next day, and then clear, crisp, and sunny the following day can run havoc on your sinuses and vocal chords. Especially when that cycle repeats itself over and over again for weeks. It’s even more important to treat your voice like what it truly is: an instrument. Here are some practical tips I’ve learned from my ENT (Thank you Dr. LeBlanc!) and Andy Chamberlain from Worship Leader magazine!
- Warm up! I’ve taken this for granted for far too long. But even in the last couple of months as I’ve put this into practice, I’ve seen a world of difference on my vocal tiredness and stamina! Yes, you sound utterly ridiculous if anyone catches you doing proper warm ups so don’t even try to hide it! Just do them out there in the open, loud and proud! It’s amazing the difference it makes! There are many great resources on CDs out there to help. This is who I use: Marjorie Searcy.
- You are what you eat…or drink! It’s important to stay hydrated. Lower your levels of Cokes and caffeinated drinks (yes, even Coffee) before you drink and use water or Gatorade instead. Milk clogs your voice so stay away from the milk and doughnuts at the Welcome Area before you sing! Chamberlain even advises to stay away from chewing gum! Another way to dry out your throat. If you’re having a sore throat do NOT cough or ‘uh-hmm.’ It rubs your chords together in a way that damages more than helps. Cepacol and Sucrets have throat numbing lozenges that work wonders!
- Common sense! Unfortunately, as Lead Worshipers we have the worst time slot for vocalists! Early Sunday mornings! Which means what we do Saturday nights effect us. Alcohol, shouting at loud concerts, yelling at football games, TALKING, all need to be taken into consideration. Believe me, I still go to concerts, games, and socialize but I approach them differently now knowing what is expected of me the next morning.
- Breathe in…breathe out Danielson! Proper breathing is the most valuable tool to learn. It’d be too difficult to explain in depth here and you’ve probably heard it before. Breathe in and see your diaphragm expand (your belly moving outward and not your chest) and use your breath to sing and not forcing (or constricting) your throat.
- Rest! Even God rests. It’s vital not only for our voice but for our mind to get focused and recharged, and to God. Lest we forget what we’re doing here. While you’re resting, turn off the ceiling fan. It stirs up junk in the air. This has made a huge difference for me here in our ‘wintry season.’ I also use a humidifier. Another huge help since I’m a mouth breather and wake up frequently with the dry, cracky throat.
You know I think I could have written for days under ‘Common Sense.’ I used to NEVER get sick or worn out, even through all the things I used to do and perform for through College. But now that my job is singing, playing, and youth, I get worn down a bit easier. And once you get worn down it’s harder to get up. Especially if your sinuses look like mine.
I didn’t mean to tailor this so much towards that of a Lead Worshiper. These principles though are useful and would apply for any vocalist no matter when or where you sing. I’m a huge proponent of feedback as well. If you’re feeling vocally tired, you’re probably sounding tired as well. Ask some trusted friends what they think of you now, for critical constructive criticism. Then put some of these in practice, give it a few weeks and ask them again. I’d be curious of your results.