It is important to learn how to use the voice correctly in speech before using it in song.
It is surprising how so many people do not speak with a clear vocal tone. Many people speak with a lowered voice and vocal fry (that broken, gurgling, crackling sound). Some of the times it could be due to tiredness but even then, it is important to always try to speak with a clear tone so that there are no fractures in the sound of the voice.
To avoid vocal frying, elevate the tone of the speaking voice to become higher in pitch until a clear sound is achieved. Doing this will take the pressure of the larynx (voice box) and will reduce vocal fatigue. The voice is prone to vocal frying when speaking low and in an unsupported manner. Use vocal fry as a vocal effect only.
It is highly recommended that a Vocalist see a Speech Pathologist. A Speech Pathologist will analyse the Vocalist’s voice in speech and song and provide guidance in making any adjustments that may be required for the voice to function in a healthy and optimal manner.
Prevention is the best cure!
In a nutshell: Make sure you are getting enough rest, maintain a balanced plant-based alkaline diet and get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily
The changing of seasons is always one to be aware of. Change in temperature can wreak havoc in the body. Be aware that the Cold or Flu Virus becomes rampant leading into Winter. July and August are the months to take extra precautions.
If you do catch a cold, flu virus or bacterial infection, stay away from other people to avoid spreading the germs. This may mean taking time off from work or school until the you are well again. It is very important to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to avoid the virus becoming airborne and potentially infecting others. The flu virus can live for up to 6 hours on surfaces and is therefore very easy to spread if not managed properly.
The flu can last around 10 days. By simply taking a few precautions, which would take a few minutes out of your day, you can increase your immune system and decrease the probability of the onset of a cold, flu or URTI and spreading it to others.
Here are some pointers to help ward off the onset of a Cold, Flu or Upper Respiratory Track Infection:
Rest – Hydrate – Warmth – Diet – Exercise
Your voice will function at its best when it is housed in a healthy body that is well-rested, hydrated, warm, and fit. The following are points to consider in keeping yourself healthy and your voice functioning at its optimal when singing:
- Drink fluids regularly throughout the day – when dehydration occurs, the vocal folds are the first organ in your body to dry out. Keeping well hydrated is vital for your voice to be able to function properly and for your general well-being. Do what you can to keep your body warm and at a steady temperature. It is important for your vocal tract and larynx to be well lubricated when singing. Water requires approximately one hour to circulate throughout your body. Avoid consuming anything other than luke-warm, filtered water for at least one hour before singing and keep hydrating yourself while singing. I drink Nobles Pureau as it is pure water that does not contain salt, chlorine, fluoride or any other impurities normally found in tap water which could potentially impede my vocal health. Hot water causes the vocal folds to swell and cold water causes them to become thin and brittle. I have noticed a lot of students drinking cold drinks in their singing lessons – that would be similar to you being outside in the freezing cold with shorts and a singlet and me telling you to do 10 repetitions of 20kg chest presses. Be kind to your body.
- Steam is the only source that will directly carry fluid and hydrate the vocal folds instantly – so to instantly lubricate your voice, steam.
- Keep warm – maintain a steady, warm body temperature (VERY IMPORTANT)
- It is not ideal to sing in an air-conditioned room but this is mostly unavoidable. Avoid positioning yourself in the direct air flow of the air-conditioner. If you have control of the air-conditioner, have the temperature set to 25°C.
- Avoid sitting in a breezy or windy area. If you are outside and there is a breeze blowing on you, move. Moving could be as simple as moving to the table across from yours.
- If you wash your hair, dry it immediately. Avoid exposing your wet or damp hair in cooler weather.
- Do not sleep with open windows or the fan on in cooler weather
- Maintain a balanced plant-based alkaline diet. Choose certified organic foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants that are alkalizing to the body such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains by eliminating acid-forming foods such as animal meat, dairy, fried food, refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Acid-forming foods breed ill-health and disease. The consumption of dairy causes inflammation and results in increased mucous production leading to recurrent URTIs and Hay fever symptoms (a nightmare for a vocalist). Eat fruits rich in Vitamin C such as Kiwi Fruit.
- Vitamins – be sure to take a B12 and get your Vitamin D fix by getting out in the sun everyday
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily – include Cardiovascular, Resistance and Core Strength
- Prepare you mind and body to sing by doing physical stretches
- Warm up your voice before you start your performance or practice session
- Wash your hands regularly with antibacterial soap for 20 seconds – avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
- Close the door after going to the lavatory to avoid spreading airborne germs.
- Grooming for an entertainer is very important. When an entertainer is poorly presented or has poor hygiene, it distracts from their performance. Audiences can be quite fickle and unforgiving, so keep yourself neat and tidy to keep the attention on your performance and to respect yourself and your craft.
- Before a performance:
- brush, floss and mouthwash your teeth
- remove any unsightly hair (for ladies – toes, legs, bikini line, armpits, chin, above the upper lip, nostrils, nose, around your eyebrows; for men – nostrils, ears)
- pore strip (do this at least a day before a performance)
- groom your finger and toe nails
- apply make-up (for ladies – to match your outfit; rich enough to be seen from the stage)
- style your hair
- dress to impress
Allergens and Irritants
- Avoid local irritants such as tobacco smoke, alcohol and medications such as Cold’n’Flu tablets or anything containing antihistamines.
- Reduce air borne irritants in your immediate environment. This includes deodorant sprays, hair spray, domestic cleaning products, dust, paint products etc. It may be of benefit for you to be tested for allergies. See your GP for an allergy test.
- Avoid menthol or eucalyptus – use peppermint or chamomile instead
- Choose Certified Organic where possible
A Professional Vocalist has their own Tools of the Trade, just as an Automobile Mechanic has their own Tools specific to their Trade.
What are some Tools of a Singer’s Trade?
– Bottle of Luke-Warm, Filtered Water (in BPA Free Stainless Steel Bottle)
– Warm Scarf
– Microphone (Wireless or Wired)
– Backing Tracks on a USB Memory Drive (Good Quality, minimum Bit Rate 128kps, mp3 format)
Following is a list of some of the Tools a Vocalist is recommended to have in their Gig Bag:
– Microphone (Wireless System and/or Wired; a spare)
– Batteries (Fresh Energizer Lithium AA, AAA, 9V; Rechargeable Batteries with Recharger)
– Microphone Leads (Male XLR to Female XLR of various lengths ie. 1m, 5m, 10m, 15m)
– Microphone Stand
– Music Stand & Light
– Library of Backing & Audio Tracks
– Library of Band Charts/Sheet Music/Lyrics
– Music Player (e.g. Laptop/Ipad/Ipod)
– External Backup Hard Drive
– Audio Lead to connect Music Player to a Mixer (various lengths ie. 2m, 5m, 10m)
– Black Extension Power Leads & Power Boards
Following is a list of the minimum PA Equipment that a Band Leader/Vocalist is recommended to have:
– 2 x FOH Speakers
– 2 x Speaker stands
– 1 x Stage Monitor
– 1 x Mixer Desk
– 1 x Table (for Mixer Desk)
– Black Sheets and Skirtings
– Stage Lighting
– Tool Set: black duct tape, variety of coloured tape, black cable ties, microphone wind shields, ear plugs, music stand sheet music clips, microphone clip threads, audio lead connectors, screw driver, measuring tape, pens, business cards
It is highly recommended that a Vocalist see a Speech Pathologist. A Speech Pathologist will analyse the Vocalist’s voice in speech and song and provide guidance in making any adjustments that may be required for the voice to function in a healthy and optimal manner. A Speech Pathologist will provide guidance through education and awareness and prescribe vocal and physical exercise.
The following are recommended Speech Pathologists:
The Brisbane Speech and Hearing Clinic
Ph: (07) 3252 2383
Heather-Ann Briker Bell
Mob: 0402 963 004
Ph: (07) 3369 7066
It is important to have a good dentist to maintain good detail hygiene.
For us singers, grooming is important and our teeth are part of our presentation. Look after your teeth – floss, brush and mouth rinse twice daily; avoid foods and beverages high in acidity; rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic food and/or beverages.
Dentist: David Tuffley
Phone: (07) 3223 5000
Address: 12/79 Adelaide Street, Brisbane QLD 4000
If you are looking for a good physiotherapist, David Chiang has a practise in Browns Plains and Sunnybank. He is superb. I spent 10 years going from one physio to the next until I found David in 2006. Now whenever I have an injury from a sprained ankle, twisted back, pulled muscle, tennis elbow, shin splints, frozen shoulder, stiff neck (my list of injuries goes on and on) I go to David and wahlah… with manual therapy, ultrasound therapy and electrotherapy, David uses what he feels is required to fix your problems and also suggests ways to prevent further injury. David also refers you to other specialists when required.
APA Sports Physiotherapist
Physio and Rehab
Plains Junction Shopping Centre
2B, 18 Torbey Street
Sunnybank Hills QLD 4109
Ph: (07) 3343 3333
Physio and Rehab
Plains Junction Shopping Centre
28 Browns Plains Road
Browns Plains QLD 4118
Ph: (07) 3809 3535
Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialists are invaluable to the Professional Vocalist. As well as seeing a Speech Pathologist, a Vocalist will benefit from seeing an ENT to check the health of their ears, nose and throat.
Following is a recommended Ear Nose and Throat Specialist:
Dr Christopher Perry
Watkins Medical Centre – 225 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill QLD 4004
Ph: (07) 3832 1766
George in the Studio – 22nd December, 2009
Georgie, my little Shihtzu, who was a regular in the studio throughout 2009-2011, who would occasionally pop into lessons from 2012-2013 always causing a distraction due to his cuddly, furry, Ewok, adorable nature, will no longer be gracing us with his presence.
George passed away at the Algester Vet Clinic on Tuesday 9th July, 2013. George had an ongoing list of health issues that plagued him and that we were continually trying to manage and I unrealistically hoped to conquer. Georgie was a stray that the Animal Welfare League at Coombabah had rescued in 2009. The amazing vets and nurses at the AWL administered various procedures to correct George’s poor health and I became George’s foster carer with a bag of pills for him to take. I eventually adopted him as a Special Needs. After signing off on all his health issues, it was all a matter of keeping him healthy, happy and as comfortable as possible.
George had a beautiful, tender nature that warmed my heart. I absolutely adored George and will miss him. There was something comforting about George. I hope he’s running around and doing his tricks effortlessly, with a good heart, good set of lungs, a good everything.
I’m grateful for the time I had with George, grateful for the amazing efforts of the Animal Welfare League, grateful for all the joy George gave to those who met him.
Louisa Paua completed a week of Work Experience with Ofelia Guizzon and Ofelia’s Voice Studio at the end of Term 2, 2014. Louisa observed studio lessons in Week 10, was part of the Concert Crew for the 2014 OVS “A Night of Show Tunes” Mid-Year Concert and attended a Club Performance Gig as a band member with a Ofelia. Louisa displayed excellent initiative and enthusiasm and her assistance throughout the week was greatly valued and appreciated.
Louisa attends Ofelia’s Voice Studio as a Student and was the 2013 Student of the Year and 2014 Voice of the Year Recipient.
Students wanting to complete their Work Experience with Ofelia’s Voice Studio are more than welcome apply.