“You mean a professional singer has to take voice lessons?” This was a question asked of me not long ago. My response to that question is this, “Even a major leaguer has to go to batting practice.” Just because I get paid to do something, does not mean I am perfect at it. In fact, I think that because I am paid to do something is all the more reason to make sure I am as accomplished at it as possible.
I have been singing as long as I can remember. It started off on long car trips with my family when my mom taught my brother and I how to sing and harmonize with such songs as “Zum Gali Gali” and “Down By the Old Mill Stream”. It then progressed to singing in church and at nursing homes around town. Then came choir in middle school and high school. Of course, singing continued to be my passion as I pursued a degree in music therapy. If ever I needed to re-center myself, I’d sit down with my guitar and sing my heart out for hours on end until I felt like me again.
I have been practicing music therapy for almost 8 years now. I have been here at West Music Company practicing for over 6 years. In my music therapy practice, I work with kids every day. I LOVE working with kids, but I find that my singing repertoire is not quite what it used to be. Instead of Broadway and folk tunes that I used to get solace from, I sing children’s songs. Don’t get me wrong, children’s songs are lovely, they are what get us inspired in music to begin with. But all day, every day, the same 3 chords, and the same 5 note range, and your voice gets a bit bored, even lazy.
I began noticing that I could not quite sing like I wanted when I would be asked to sing in front of people. That is, unless I had a guitar and a group of children. So, I decided that I needed some help before I lost all ability to really sing. I began with an amazing instructor at the beginning of the year. I immediately noticed a difference in my voice. I not only was starting to sound like the old me, I was sounding better than the old me. I was amazed at what relearning proper techniques, and even some new ones, was able to do for my voice after nearly a decade of not taking lessons.
I have learned to love singing again!
Some voice saving tips:
- Drink plenty of water and avoid things such as caffeine and alcohol (or at least limit intake)
- Relax. If you feel strain in your throat while singing/speaking, you are probably doing some damage
- Do not yell/scream. You can control the volume of your voice through the amount and speed of the air you use. If you are at a sporting event and need to make noise, learn to whistle or bring along a cowbell!
- Don’t force it. If you are feeling sick or overly-tired, do not force the sound out. We all have days that we need to just rest our voices. Use written communication when possible.
- Stretch. If you are giving a speech or going to sing, warm up first!
- Do not gasp. You do not need to take a breath as though it were your last. Your body will naturally get air to replenish its supply, and if you stand with correct posture, it will get enough to last you.
- Rest up. Getting enough sleep will not only help your voice, but your overall health. Turn off the TV an extra 30 minutes each night to get that full 8 hours of sleep you deserve!