Vocally Surviving the Winter

Here in Nashville, Music Row pretty much shuts down in the months of November/December. Many of us musicians go into creative hibernation and dive head-first into our part-time jobs. But here’s what I don’t want you to forget:

“Training is what you are doing while your opponent is sleeping in.”

“The difference between a good athlete and a top athlete is that the top athlete will do the mundane things when nobody’s looking.”

When it comes to your music, your “opponent” is EVERYBODY ELSE who is in music. (They’re not really your “opponent,” we support other artists of course, but you get what I mean.) And if the whole lot of them take several weeks off for the holidays, this provides an amazing opportunity for you to get ahead. We’ve all seen the heart-warming sports movies… the lead character doesn’t just stumble into his abilities one day, he works his tail off for them, and doesn’t quit when others do. They were the first person there, and the last one to leave. This season is basically your movie-montage-moment.

Your goal might be different than to win the championship, but your dream will still be there after the fruit cake is gone, so think long-term. Stay healthy during the winter, and “get ahead” during the slow season. Here are a few things I suggest:

  1. WATER! With the heater running for weeks on end, your voice -and body in general- will get very dehydrated. You might feel scratchy, get headaches, or have trouble concentrating. Water. Not Gatorade or soda…. good old-fashioned water. And lots of it.
  2. VOCALIZE DAILY. Once the heater dries you out, you step outside into the freezing air and your vocal cord muscles immediately contract, making it difficult to sing or even talk. In the summer, I can get away with vocalizing here and there, but in the winter I have to double my efforts in order to retain strength and coordination. Don’t do your full 30-50 minute workout every day, switch those up every other day, but do at least a few lip rolls or goo goo’s in the shower first thing. (Great place to warm up btw… steam + heat + great acoustics.) If you need some good singing exercises to follow, we can help.
  3. WATCH THE DIET. Milk, sugar, and bread can boost the production of mucous inside your body, creating phlegm and stuffy nose which can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Treat your body well and give it greens, veggies, fruits, and beans. Tea is great too! But it’s no substitute for food your body craves to stay healthy.
  4. TRY WEIRD THINGS. Make it a goal to sit down and try something that feels…foreign. Example 1. Open your mouth as wide as it will go and stick your tongue all the way out. Example 2. Sing a song with your arms and legs stretched out in a wacky position. Example 3. Sing Happy Birthday as quiiiietly as you possibly can. Humans are generally hesitant about things that feel new, so the idea is to explore the limits of what feels “weird” to you, taking the stigma out of it for later. It essentially desensitizes you to “weird” things, so you’re more willing to take risks when singing in front of people. In a few months, you’ll notice yourself feeling more and more comfortable in your own body, and therefore flowing more freely with your singing and performing.

Enjoy your holidays, and don’t give up on your goal. The world needs to hear your voice.

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