As a vocalist, do you find yourself having ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days? Have you filled your toolbox with special tricks like eating potato chips, bringing along your lucky grasshopper charm, whisky & cigarettes? I have my own funky tool box and have found that anything seems to work sometimes. In this blog, I’d like to share with you those few things I’ve found that always work for me.
1. Stay Hydrated with Five to Eight 8oz glasses of water a day. If you’re not properly hydrated your vocal chords can’t vibrate efficiently. You’ll loose your fabulous tone and some of your pitch control. Flying (in airplanes), coffee, alcohol & smoking will make you dry out faster so make sure you compensate.
2. Warm up. Really. Give yourself a half hour to gently run through your exercises and work on any tough transitional spots in your range. If you know for sure you're doing your warm ups correctly, go ahead and sing for an hour or two. Done right, you will just continue to sound better.
3. Prepare. Tape yourself singing the song at home or at a live show before you come to the studio. Listen back critically and ask yourself, your producer, bandmates or someone you trust to be straight with you (not your mother – she thinks you sound great ALL the time) if your vocal performance is truly excellent or could use some improvement. Work through any parts you don’t love. Disect your phrasing and breath - is it really conveying what you want it to? Consider hiring a vocal coach if you’re having trouble. If you have the leisure, live with new songs for a while before tracking them. Sometimes it takes 10 gigs before I settle into a really nice groove with a new song. I’ve often listened back to a CD performace and wished I’d waited for the song, melody and phrasing to grow a little before I tracked the vocal. Do your work before you get on the mic so that when you are on mic, you aren't thinking about singing, you are simply communicating a song.
4. Have No Fear. You probably wouldn’t be on your way to the studio if you didn’t have some skills & talent, right? Imagine the fantastic job you’re going to do. Love the sound of your voice and love the song you’re singing. Love the feeling of singing. If you are hydrated, warmed up and have your song & performance well prepared, then there really isn’t anything standing in the way of your best performance except your fear. Let it go! -Jen Smith