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professional singer
being an artist
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Looking After Your Voice
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Looking After Your Voice

Being a singer is a wonderful profession. It is a call. It is a mission. It is a lifestyle that lasts all in our lives. Nothing is more elevating than singing. However, not many people think of how hard a singer needs to work to be on stage and take care of herself or himself. Just to make it easier, I will be using a female example in my article. You see, this is what I find difficult in the English language! The constant difference between male and female when we talk about people in general. In my native language, which is Hungarian, we talk in general about humans, about people. Then when we want to further specify, we do. So much easier. It also tells a lot about how we see people. As people. Not as She or He. However, this is not what I want to write about today.

A professional singer needs to work very hard every day to be able to go on stage day after day. Nowadays, there is a lot more expectation towards singers. They need to have a good voice, need to look good, need to be 'pretty' or handsome, fit and have a good body. A singer needs to work with a good band and engage a good songwriter if she can't write her own songs. A singer needs to have some money to invest in her career to get gigs, find a good manager or produce recordings to get her name out there.

What we see in the TV on The Voice and the Australia has got talent program is truly not the reality for most musicians. Even those who are winners on these programs will disappear in a few years' time like they have never existed.

Being an artist requires lots of hard work, diligence, commitment and dedication. The big famous celebrities could tell a lot about how hard they worked to become a celebrity and even harder they need to work to stay one. It is a constant renewal of themselves and their art. And nowadays, it is constant marketing.

However, let's talk about that famous voice. The voice that made them famous. Originally, that voice is a God's gift. But that's all. The rest depends on the recipient. How that voice is trained, used, looked after and taken care of decides what happens to the singer. Much to do with attitude.

Our voice is the most precious gift to deliver our inner truth, to convey who we are and who we have become. This voice is extremely fragile and sensitive. It reflects everything that goes on in us and in our lives. It shows when we are tired and sick, fed up or happy. Those who know us can tell a lot about our state of health, energy levels, our moods just by hearing our voice.

A singer must preserve this voice. Like our health, when we abuse it, will not show signs of distress immediately but maybe only two, five, ten years later.

A good vocal technique is absolutely crucial. Personally, as a long time professional performing musician and lecturer, I am truly concerned about young people who go on these talent shows. Many of them have never had a vocal lesson and learned decent singing technique. The judges push that magic button when the singer starts to belt. They are looking for power not subtlety and variety of tone.

This God given voice can be very temperamental. It needs a specific diet. It can be very selective on drink, food, rest even weather. There are singers who produce mucus after eating dairy or bread that contains grains. Coffee and black tea can be extremely drying for the vocal folds. Clearing your throat is a big no, no. Try to swallow or sip some water. Most singers can't drink alcohol many hours before performance. However, I had male colleagues who sang much better after a shot of good Bourbon!

Hot water with the juice of half a lemon makes miracles to dissolve mucus in the morning before rehearsal. If nothing else a singer takes, omega 3 oils in liquid form are very good for 'oiling' that voice. The Herbalife protein shakes have great voice strengthening effect for the voice that has too much vibrato or start to show aging signs. The Flavon Max fruit and vegetables dietary supplement has helped many singers to get their voice back after loosing it long term. It also helps getting rid of mucus long term and builds up the immune system such a way that they become much more resistant to colds and flues. It also helps to maintain great energy levels and restful sleep during stressful tours.

This means that during the very trying learning sessions when singers suddenly faced with their incapacity of reading music, lack of basic musicianship, music skills and producing different sounds, they have to operate like the Pros. They get a reality check. They have to wake up that it is not all spotlight, glitter and fame. They have to face that they are probably not mature and strong enough to live this life and do that hard work to become a professional musician, sacrifice their ordinary but comfortable live to be on stage and be on the road all the time and perform night after night while during the day they are rehearsing.

This strenuous lifestyle shows on the body and reflects on the voice. Like most ordinary people, they catch colds and flues and get sick and tired. When they have a sold out stadium waiting for a performance it is very risky to cancel a concert just because the singer has a cold or feels really tired. Lots of money and their reputation is at stake.

Singers work with bands, orchestras, choirs, conductors, dancers, composers and songwriters, producers, choreographers, consume designers, roadies, make up artists, sound engineers, managers and God knows who else I forgot. But you got the picture. The more famous artist you are, the more people who have to manage, listen to, work with and live up to. Their lives are scheduled by the minute for most of the year.

A good warm up routine is absolutely crucial for a singer. It not just warms the voice and prepares the vocal folds for singing, it mentally helps focusing on the task as well. A singer needs to know how much before a rehearsal she needs to get up and warm up to be able to sing at the rehearsal. What is the latest time to rest, eat or drink before performance. How to memorize things to remember on stage just to mention a few basic things.

Professional singers take vocal lessons and work with their trainer all the time. This strengthen their voice, the trainer monitors and adjusts the vocal technique and gets rid of bad vocal habits. A good vocal coach would work with a singer even during the time of a cold or flue to teach how to manage and sing over the cold.

In our world where celebrities dominate the media, reality shows keep viewers engaged, we think success is reached over night. Intellectual property such as music is sold on the Internet for pittance and the music profession is judged harshly against lawyers, doctors and computer experts while everyone consumes their art like never before.

It is time to put Artists to their well-deserved place and recognize the work and the dedication it takes to become a professional and successful musician. Art makes us human. Without music and art we would not survive even a short period of time if some disaster would hit us on this Planet. How quickly we forget history!

Musicians contribute to our happiness and to positive changes in our lives. Just remember this when next time you listen to some music or make music yourself!

Cheers, Piroska

Street Talk

Anna Ware  

Very interesting article. When I sing the bathroom tiles break but I'm definatly passing this article along to friends that are singers. Thank you.

  about 9 years ago

Haha, Anna, I don't believe you that the tiles break! Anyone can sing if they do it regularly! Choir or lesson, that's all! Thanks for sharing my article Anna!

  about 9 years ago
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