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7 Ways to Prepare Your Voice For a Performance (besides warming up!)

Posted By singingcoach 174 days ago on Music - The first and most obvious way to prepare for a performance is to warm up your voice.  That one goes without saying, so let’s discuss some other ways to get that voice ready to wail on stage.Hydrate. Simple right? Well, there are some liquids that can be helpful, and some that are harmful. Do you know which is which? Let’s start with another obvious choice here: water. But again, there’s a twist! Did you know cold, icy water is not good to drink before or during a performance? That’s right, ice water can tense up your vocal cords, and we want them relaxed and limber. Here are a few good, bad, and “depends on it” drink options:GOODWater - Warm or room temperature (not ice water) for the win!Tea - Throat Coat (Traditional Medicinals) is a great one for the voice.  Most herbal teas are also ok.  Avoid black tea, due to the acidity, iced tea (it’s cold AND caffeinated), and other caffeinated teas including green; caffeine can dry out your vocal cords.  Sweeten your tea, if needed, with a small spoon of honey.  I use a few drops of stevia, and haven’t found it to effect my voice one way or the other.BADAlcohol - Yes, it might relax your nerves, but so will breathing in for four counts, holding it for four counts, releasing for four counts, and holding for four counts (aka “box breathing” - huge fan of this, give it a try). Unlike alcohol, the breathing exercise won’t impair any of your physical and mental abilities.  Alcohol not only dehydrates your body, it dehydrates your voice, and it impairs your ability to control your voice with precision.Caffeinated beverages - Caffeine can dry out your voice, and won’t be remotely helpful in calming any stage jitters you might have.Milk, milkshakes, any dairy-based beverage - Unless you want to sing with a bunch of mucus irritating your vocal cords, avoid consuming dairy for 3 or more hours before singing.  The coughing and throat clearing you might need to do to loosen the excess and thickened mucus will irritate and inflame your throat. Got Milk?  Not this time!Sugary beverages (i.e. soda, juices) - Sugar, like dairy, tends to thicken mucus.  There is always a certain flow of mucus in your nose and throat.  And most of the time you don’t ever notice it, because it passes through your system effortlessly.  But the thicker it gets, the slower the flow, which can irritate your vocal cords, and cause interference to your singing.DEPENDS ON IT -Lemon water / lemon water with honey  - On the plus side, lemon can cut mucus if you find you are coughing or needing to clear your throat (And remember, the less coughing and throat clearing you do, the better for your voice).  But because it is acidic, it can also dry out your voice.  Honey can soothe the vocal cords, if used in moderation.  But when that drink starts to taste too sugary-sweet (meaning you’ve put loads of honey in it), the positive effect of honey will turn into the negative effect of sugar.  Now that we’ve gotten the complicated topic of hydration out of the way, let’s look at 6 more tips to prepare your voice for a performance.Straw Exercises - Ok technically a warm up, but I can’t resist including them here. These are SO good for your voice. Doing a few extra of these right before you get on stage will make sure you voice is warm and feeling good. Better yet, do some straw exercises into a glass of water for a little more resistance, helping your vocal cords find just the right air pressure for optimal singing. Want to know more about the benefits of straw exercises? Read more here.Moderate Vocal Rest - Wait, didn’t I just say to warm up? Yes! And aside from that, take it very easy on your voice, think of it as conserving your vocal energy. Avoid shouting, talking loudly, or whispering for the whole day pre-show, and particularly the hour before getting on stage. Time Your Food Intake And Avoid Dairy - It’s best to not be singing on a full stomach, especially if you’re prone to acid reflux. Allow two to three hours between eating and getting on stage. As we discussed in the drink section, most people will experience thickened mucosal secretions after consuming dairy, so best to save that pizza for after the show.Get A Good Sleep - If your voice is tired, it won’t be in optimal form, simple as that. You might not have the vocal stamina to get through a whole set, you might not have the power to nail those tricky notes, and you might not have the agility for those complicated runs.Get In The Body Space, Get In The Mind Space - The voice is part of the body, and the whole body is connected. If your body is tight and rigid, it makes sense that your voice may also sound/feel tight and rigid. Stretch out a bit, do some head rolls, massage your neck. Take a minute to give yourself a singer’s self-massage. Conversely, if you’re feeling mellow, you may need to amp yourself up before getting on stage. Do a few jumping jacks (these will also help loosen up some nervous energy) to get the blood flowing. As for the mind, I have a whole blog separate blog post about getting in the right mindset before a performance, check it out here. In a nutshell, don’t get in your head: Surrender to the moment, surrender to the music, and do it because you love it!Chew (sugar-free) Gum - Pretty much any vocal coach is going to hands down agree with all of the above tips. This one is a bit more controversial, but it’s something I ALWAYS do before a performance because I have found it to be very helpful for my voice. Like many people, I experience a dry feeling in my mouth if I feel nervous. But I don’t like to drink TOO much water because then I have to go to the bathroom every five minutes. So the last half hour before I get on stage, I like to chew a piece of gum. This keeps my mouth moist, and bonus points for the fresh breath! Singers with jaw tension also report it to be helpful in loosening up a tight jaw. Just be sure to throw that gum in the trash before actually getting on stage, though. It looks terrible and is a total choking hazard to keep it in your mouth while singing.

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