Heading out on tour or prepping for a regional theater production away from home? Vocal health, especially on tour, is extremely important. A grueling schedule with intense vocal demands, harsh weather, dry airplane and hotel air, and more are recipes for disaster. Not to worry! There are ways to keep you and your coveted voice in good health and well-trained.
Just because you’re not seeing your voice or acting coach weekly in-studio doesn’t mean you should stop focusing on healthy vocal technique, learning new material, or even sending in self-tapes while out-of-state.
As a vocal and acting coach, I help my students maintain their training both in-studio and while they’re on the road. Healthy technique and training start months in advance. Just like the world’s top athletes, performers must prep their bodies and minds with proper nutrition, exercise, and rest well before actually stepping foot on the tour bus.
Here are six places to start:
This may seem obvious, but we all know how hard it is to drink the proper amount of water each day. Keep a reusable water bottle by your side and get in the habit of drinking from it often. Avoid caffeine as much as possible if you can—it can be dehydrating—and instead switch to decaf tea with tons of honey. Your vocal folds will thank you later.
2. Practice breathing exercises.
By now you’ve mastered proper breathing techniques so you may not think you need to practice as much. However, as little as 5–10 minutes every day will maintain that proper technique and keep you conscious of the way you breathe on and off the stage.
Your voice likes moist air so use a humidifier (especially during winter months and in drier climates) to prevent it from drying out. Hook yourself up with a gym pass when you arrive at each new town and hit the steam room at the local gym or spa at least once a week if you can.
4. Avoid misusing your voice.
Your voice is a fragile instrument. Excessive yelling, screaming, and even general overuse should be avoided whenever possible. Is it worth it to be stuck with a raspy voice and maybe even have to sit out a? Probably not.
5. Post-show self-control.
Being on tour is a blast and going out with your tour family after a show is what some of us live for! However, falling into bad habits like drinking a couple of alcoholic beverages a night can easily take its toll on your voice. Alcohol dehydrates and irritates the vocal folds so be sure to exercise self-control in your post-show celebrations for the sake of your voice.
6. Rest and relax.
You know your body best so when it’s asking for a break, listen! When you feel you need a break, take that time to rest and relax.
Once you’re out on the road, it’s important to keep up with the six tips above as well as with your actual vocal lessons. Book a fixed time each week with your coach to Skype or FaceTime your sessions. Although you may think you’re fine on your own, it’s important to maximize your training and stick with a routine as best you can.
During FaceTime or Skype sessions with my students, we review all the material in the show even after the production has started just to ensure no bad habits are starting and notes are still on point. Also, as you grow into a role, it’s important to get a second look as your character development strengthens.
*This post was originally published on March 7, 2019. It has since been updated.
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