3 Essentials in a Preperformance Routine

Behind every great live performance is a practical and efficient preperformance routine.  The purpose of the routine is to help prepare you to meet the mental, physical and vocal demands of what’s required of you on stage.

For singers, their instrument is in their bodies, so performing optimally is an entire body experience.  It’s not just about doing a vocal warm-up and away you go.  Your voice needs you to be holistically ready. So my advice,  carve out a routine for yourself that includes these three main components: 

Mind Prep:  First it all starts with your mind. Wellness practices such as, mindfulness meditation, visualization techniques, journaling, prayer, saying affirmations, do whatever it takes to get your headspace right before your show.  We all have stresses and hardships and performance requires you to put those aside so you can execute well.  Give yourself a 15-20 minute mind-centred routine.  Try out different practices that speak to you.  I love the Headspace app.  I also love journaling.  And hey, a little visualization goes a long way! 

Body Prep: Even if you aren’t doing any dancing on stage, your body needs a good warm-up.  If you tend to be nervous before a show or audition, grounding practices such as yoga can be affective to help calm your nervous system down.  If you tend to be too laid-back or doubtful before performance, and want to ramp things up then it may be time to get hyped up! Try 5-7 minutes of jump rope or dancing.  Not everyone needs calming down.  

Whatever route you take remember to carve out some stretch time.  Stretching is so beneficial for singers and can really open the body up and minimize tension.

Voice prep: And last but not least, prepare your voice.  Yes I believe in a good old fashioned vocal warm-up. The length the warm-up will depend on how long of a show you have.  The type of warm-up would depend on what your set list is like, what the range and vocal load is like.  So consult with your voice teacher on what exercises are best. Get a clean voice memo recording that you can take with you on the go.  Your warm-up can look like: SOVT exercises, such as straw phonation, lip trills; vowel consonant combinations with different scale patterns.  If you are doing a lot of high belt stuff, maybe some pharyngeal voice exercises.  If you are doing a lot of ballads with long held notes, be sure to include sustains in your warm-up.

One thing I want to stress here is please don’t use your preperformance routine as a dress rehearsal.  You don’t need to sing the entire set list. And you don’t want to fatigue your voice in the warm-up.  So keep your routine short and practical. And remember to have fun!  That is the most important thing! 

6 Non-Negotiables for Singers

When it comes to vocal wellness, it is unquestionable that every lifestyle decision we make impacts our singing.  Here are 6 non-negotiables to consider, and yeah, I know, no one is perfect, but becoming aware of these factors can be huge for your singing progress!

SLEEP HYGIENE:   Sleep is so important for your voice.  If you aren’t sleeping well your voice isn’t going to function adequately because when the body is tired the voice is tired. If you’re having trouble sleeping reach out to a medical health professional to get the root cause of your sleeplessness. One tip:  sleep experts suggest shutting off electronics 1 hour before bedtime. So stop scrolling and sleep. (hard to do!). Try meditation or light stretching before bed. Tell yourself this is for the health of your body, but also your instrument.  Your voice needs your body to rest adequately every single night in order to recover.

VOICE HYGIENE: Voice Hygiene includes overall care for your voice, including HYDRATION, and staying away from anything toxic.  Your voice is going to function way better when you prioritize voice care.  Consulting with a Laryngologist or Voice Therapist on the condition of your vocal folds can really help you get a sense of what steps you need to take.  Consider how your use your speaking voice throughout the week, and how much talking you do.  Are you taking breaks in between meetings.  Throw is some ‘straw work’ here and there to ‘reset’ your voice if you have a heavy vocal load of speaking.

LESSONS and TRAINING:  At some point if you haven’t already, you gotta check-in with a voice teacher.  Regular lessons can help you stay in track vocally and help you move away from habits that don’t serve you and move you towards better muscle memory.  Also, if you have a break in your voice or you can’t reach those high notes, training with a teacher is going to help.  If you aren’t able to do lessons at this time, find some vocal workouts online.  (check out my free vocal workouts!)

CONSISTENT PRACTICE:  Stay consistent with your practice because even though it may seem like you’re not getting anywhere, trust me hang in there you will start to see results.  Notes that were once difficult or unattainable are now at your fingertips!

OPTIMISTIC MINDSET:  Mindset matters!  Stay optimistic, look at how far you’ve come!  Reach out for support if you’re finding it hard to cultivate a sense of optimism.

PATIENCE: I know it’s not easy, but be patient with yourself, progress doesn’t usually happen over night.

The Truth About Singing

Do you wanna know the truth about singing?  It’s simple. It’s maybe not what you think.   

If you’ve been taking lessons with me for a while, you’ve probably heard me say this 100 times and guess what, I’m gonna keep saying it:  

Singing is a skill that requires consistency in training and practice.

Eye-rolling?  Hear me out…

Let’s look at the reasons why this truth is so hard for us to digest. 

Instantaneous mindset:  We live in an instantaneous world.  If I want tacos, (yum tacos!) I just click on my food ordering app, and my tacos will arrive in under 20 minutes usually.  It’s baffles me every time.   

Well vocal development isn’t like this.  Improvement usually happens in small increments over longer periods of time.  If we don’t see those small improvements immediately, there is a tendency to get discouraged and sometimes throw in the towel. 

The reason why people give up so easily is that we want immediate confirmation that we are either “good” or “not good”.  If that’s the case, then you’re most likely singing for the wrong reasons.  Let’s look at that a bit more…

Either you ‘have it’, or ‘you don’t’ mindset:  Some singers may have grown up in environments that nurtured their musicianship and singing skills from a very young age.  So they have been singing for much longer.  And their skill and expression is way more developed because it was encouraged and celebrated!  So we hear those singers and we think “they really have it”.  Meanwhile we don’t know their history and how long they have been training and practicing for. 

If you’ve come to singing later in life, don’t fret.  If your goal is to improve your skill, then keep your focus on the skill building.  You have to learn to shut off that story that tells you either you ‘have it’ or ‘you don’t’.  That story will show up in your training and practice especially when you hear a bad note coming out of your mouth. Yikes!  It’s scary.  But trust me, it’s not the end of the world.  It’s just part of the process.

So how can we move past this?

Cultivate a ‘childlike mindset’ around singing:  

I’ve worked with children and teens over the years, more often than not, they are so free in using their voices.  They aren’t worried whether they are good or not. They are present-moment beings.  Most of the time they are ego-less in their approach to singing.  They just sing and have no problem making sound and using their voices depending on the age of course. 

As adults, we rely so heavily on confirmation that we are good.  We want that validation.  We want reassurance.  We’ve built up a lot of walls. We wouldn’t dare sing a wrong note.  

But what would happen if you allowed your 5 year-old self to step forward during your practice and training.  What would happen if your focus was on the task of skill building?  Singing would most likely become way more enjoyable and guess what results would start to happen.

Need a singing reset?   Check out my vocal workouts!

Wisdom from Voice Experts

I got the chance to do quite a few live Q&A with many of my colleagues last year. I am so excited to do more in 2021!

Q&A with the Voice Clinic!

Vocal Mindset

Super thrilled that yesterday I got to interview Vocal Mindset Coach Keziah from the UK!  She has such great insight on confidence, mindset, nerves and preparing for auditions and live performances.  Check out our live Q&A!

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Singing After Vocal Injury Webinar

Thank you to all who attended our Singing After Vocal Injury webinar!

Thanks again to Sherri Zelazny from the Surrey Voice Clinic for co-presenting with me on such an interesting topic.