How to Stay Healthy During Long Rehearsal Periods
For any singer who has been involved in a theatrical production, touring show, or long standing gig, maintaining vocal health is a major concern. The long hours of practice day after day, and nightly shows can cause much fatigue to any singer if proper care is not taken. Here are a few suggestions I’ve learned through experience, trial and error, and study. These will help you along your journey to sustained vocal health under intense schedules.
1. Rest – This may seem like an impossibility under many schedules but it is crucial to your overall health not just vocal health. There are many times when I’ve been in long rehearsals and often long hours of sleep are forgone, but there are moments when rest is a possibility. Rather than chatting during a break or grabbing coffee with the cast, a quick cat nap can do wonders! TIP: Between scene or number rehearsals close your eyes and lay your head back while taking deep breaths. Any amount of intentional ‘down’ time can relax the body and allow inflammation of the vocal folds to relax a bit.
2. Hydrate – Sure, everyone says they know this one, but do you DO IT? It takes a conscious effort to make sure you have your water bottles filled and on hand for extended rehearsals. The key to knowing if your hydrated is the color of your urine. If its still mostly yellow, keep drinking! The clearer, the more hydrated your body is. Remember your vocal folds are one of the very last places the body will send its hydration to. Vital organs like the heart and lungs will get priority therefor you must consciously drink and drink. The body will NOT say “Oh its performance day, so today the water goes to the chords first!” TIP: Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks of any kind to avoid having to back peddle the de-hydration these drinks cause to your body.
3. Stay warm – This is a big deal for your vocal folds as well as your body. Most rehearsal and gig venues are extremely air conditioned. If you have already warmed up your voice prior to practice or a performance, keep the vocal folds warm by light humming, vocal frys, and soft scales as you can. TIP: Wear scarfs, bring a jacket, or even a cozy blanket to help with warmth and rest and relaxation. Remember your instrument is always with you! Care for it as you would a signature relic guitar or violin. Protect it from the elements to your best ability.
4. When you DO get Sick – Lets face it, even the most careful singers get sick, thats life! When you get fatigued or sick quickly get back on track. Take the break your body is calling for. What ever you can do, take the night off or afternoon down, and truly rest! Give your body the rest its calling for before exhaustion sets in and an injury to your vocal health occurs.
Best Wishes in your vocal journeys and Sing On!
AUTHOR: Ami Gent