Tips on keeping your voice healthy as a full time recording artist
I’ve been a full time singer, songwriter, and recording artist for over ten years now, and even with the proper techniques, warm ups, and rest days, a voice can still strain quite easily. I’ve compiled a few tricks and tips from my life that I’ve learned over the years in order to help any vocalists out there who may be feeling drained. Here are a few methods I use for keeping my vocal cords relaxed, healthy, and strong for long recording days.
1. Keep a low stress lifestyle.
Now I know this sounds easier said than done, who’s life doesn’t have the occasional stressors? But I have a few steps that help keep my body and mind calm, in order to have a controlled voice. If you’re a full time singer, you know that nothing is worse for your voice than feeling anxious, and stressed out. Think of when your body is exhausted and stressed, or when you’ve had an upsetting situation or argument, what’s the first thing to go? Your voice. It becomes scratchy and weak, and definitely not easy to control in a recording session. If you know you have an exciting or nerve wrecking session coming up, prepare for it the day, heck even the week before. Limit those little things in your life that stress you out and are unnecessary. For me, one small thing I do is not check my emails past a certain time of night. This helps me to ‘turn off’, prepare for the next day, meditate, and not have to worry about what’s coming up next. Find something in your life that adds stress, and ask yourself, can I eliminate this? At least a few hours a day? Or past a certain time a day? Believe me, those little changes will make all the difference, and not only will your voice be more on point, your mind and body will as well for that amazing studio day.
2. Find ways to have healthy habits when you travel.
Being in the music business usually comes with a lifestyle that involves travel. One way to help keep your body and voice healthy on the road is to find ways to keep those healthy habits you’ve established at home, wherever you go. When I’m out of town, the best thing I can do to prepare for studio sessions is to get proper sleep, home cook meals (thank goodness for AirBnB’s and home kitchens) and drink as much water as possible. When we’re out of town it’s easy to think, well hey, I’m out of town, I can eat all the fast food and junk I want and I’ll feel amazing. No, no you won’t. Those greasy foods are killer for your voice, will drain your energy, and not make you a happy camper or sustain energy when you have a long recording day coming up. Find a way to do whatever physical activities you enjoy doing at home as well, if you’re a yogi, bring your mat with you or find a local studio on a day off. If you’re a runner like me, well guess what, you can do that anywhere you are. Take time each day to try and keep your at home healthy lifestyle, and I guarantee it will make those out of town recording sessions feel right at home.
3. Lay off the alcohol.
For a lot of singers, our careers include nights out, meetings in bars, at concerts, and meetings with managers, agents, and labels, all typically revolve around social activities that can include alcohol. And though having a drink or two now and then may not affect your voice, when these busy days and nights out happen far too frequently, you’ll notice your voice start to go. For me, I cut out alcohol completely. I completely understand this may not be right for everyone, but it’s right for me. For now. Once I realized it was not only affecting my voice, but also my moods the next day (alcohol is a major depressant), I decided it just wasn’t for me anymore. “But Amy we see you in photos and out and about with drinks in your hands?” Yup that’s a tonic and lime, or most likely, water. You might think that cutting out alcohol will affect your social life, or stop you from going to concerts where you might make amazing connections, but for me, it hasn’t. I actually go out twice as much because I don’t need to factor in the cost of alcohol. And I’m 100% good to go the next day if I do get invited to a studio session last minute. I can’t tell you how many times producers have texted me an hour before saying “Hey, are you able to record today?” The more opportunities you can say yes to, the better. And you never, ever, ever, want to be that person that has to say. “I’m sorry, I can’t, I’m hungover.” Your voice is your instrument, it’s your way of expression, your money maker, and a gift you’ve been given to use. You have to protect it in all ways possible in order to have a long, happy, healthy vocal career.
If there are any other tricks that you know will benefit you and your voice, try them out. If you notice an improvement in your work and energy in the studio, then you’ll know it’s right for you. A healthy rested voice is more controlled, stronger, clearer, and will help you to get that final track to where you want. Nothing is worse than having an idea, and not being able to execute it because of a strained voice. So rest up, relax, and enjoy a cup of tea instead of a cocktail from time to time. I guarantee you’ll notice results in your recordings.
Amy Kirkpatrick is a professional singer/songwriter, and one of Vocalizr’s top performers with many releases with top artists to her name ~ Ed.