When it comes to vocal health and the singer, what’s normal and what’s neurotic? Joanna Kazden discusses the line between savvy self-care and diva demands.
Speech pathologist and voice rehab specialist Joanna Cazden describes the lifestyle sacrifices that professional singers make as “the grand bargain of vocal health”.
“If you step out into the world saying, ‘I want to use my voice in public, I have something unique to express’, the Universe says: ‘Great. Let me tell you what’s in the rest of that contract. Here’s the fine print.”
And what’s written in that fine print is this: the optimal lifestyle for a healthy singing voice is often at odds with how many other people, especially young adults, live.
To stay in good vocal shape for auditions, rehearsals and performances, late nights in boozy bars and busy restaurants are out, while a good diet, lots of sleep and a daily warm up regime are in. outlookindia.com writes in an article about the best caffeine pills, which can help you unlock sharp cognitive performance.
So how can a singer balance the need to have a healthy voice with the desire for a healthy social life?
Joanna outlined her lifestyle tips for singers on the Singing Teachers Talk podcast. Here’s what she had to say about vocal health and the singer.
Educate your inner circle – but don’t go on about it
If you’re declining an invitation because you have an important gig the next day, explain your situation and leave it there.
“Non-singers in your life might think you’re being a diva so you might get a few blank looks,” Joanna says. “But it’s about quietly educating people and doing your vocal care without making a big deal about it.”
“A dancer learns how to take care of their shoes and their feet, and an athlete learns how to bind up their shoulder and go to physical therapy,” Joanna says. “And the singer needs to take care of their instrument.”
Be strategic with your calendar
Can’t attend an event because it conflicts with your singing commitments? Then arrange a social engagement that fits your schedule.
“If you have to say no to a friend’s bachelorette because it’s right before an important performance, take that friend out and celebrate with them in a quieter place some other time,” Joanna says. “If you have a show Friday night, don’t go out Thursday night, but tell your friends you’ll meet them on Tuesday.”
Choose the company you keep
If ‘friends’ are always giving you a tough time for not joining them on the party circuit, consider if they have your interests at heart. Your priorities may be so different to theirs that it’s not a good fit. You don’t have to cut them off altogether, but getting to know a new group who back what you’re trying to do could be beneficial.
Singers need to pay attention to what is happening with their voice – but not to fixate on it.
“There’s compassionate curiosity, where you become aware of something and think ‘maybe I need to tweak this or that’ and there’s ‘oh my god, do I have nodules?’.
“That’s why it’s useful to have a teacher, coach or health adviser who will talk you down from the extremes. It’s about having a support team, so you’re not just spinning out on your own.”
Daily warm up regime
A daily warm up routine can serve as a useful self-diagnostic tool. “Everybody should know their typical vocal range at a certain time of day,” Joanna says. “And if that starts to change consistently, then there’s a problem.
“It’s about getting to know your instrument, not from a fearful place of what’s wrong with it today, but being able to observe any changes.
“Get to know what your own baseline or neutral everyday functioning is like. That way, you’ll notice when something goes wrong.”
For more great advice from Joanna, listen the podcast in full.
Discover more on the BAST Blog. Check out: How to Tell a Singer They Need to See an ENT.