Like any other athlete, professional vocalists train and perform constantly. Most young singers are taken by surprise when they enter the industry and discover the expectations can be overwhelming. In college as a music theatre major there is real risk that you can injure your voice. Voice lessons, choir obligations, rehearsals, master class, performances, recitals, etc. Learning to protect yourself isn’t easy but it isn’t rocket science either.
According to Nadine Gomes and Rebecca Schorsch, two voice coach experts, they agree that imitation and over-singing is the biggest trap young singers fall into. Professional theatre power performers like Idina Menzel, Adele, Sutton Foster built their chops gradually with training, coaching and learning what a healthy sound should “feel” like. Bouncing around in your room belting out the latest Broadway show tune can be fun but it is not in your best interest if you are still in high school or college. Imitating someone else and manipulating your voice not only keeps you from discovering and polishing your own sound but can result in serious and dangerous stress and physical damage. You can possibly kill a career before it even starts.
A Broadway singer works eight to ten shows a week, often for years if the run is successful. If you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, you will be fired when vocal fatigue and symptoms such as hoarseness and pain become obvious since you wouldn’t be delivering what you are paid to do. The real world doesn’t care if you are sick or injured. A healthy voice should not be a painful and husky one. If you have been singing past the point of exhaustion and are experiencing vocal weakness it is definitely time to assess what is wrong.
Good singing should not hurt! No matter what style you are using. Opera, rock, legit, jazz and blues, the techniques of good vocal technique are the same. This is why professionals constantly train with a trusted coach and vocal teacher. Another set of eyes and ears is your rock of security.
Things like warming up the voice and staying physically healthy are the things all sports pros consider no brainers and singers should also! Get enough sleep, eat the right food, exercise, hydrate daily and manage your schedule wisely. No partying all night the day before a show. No unnecessary yelling or talking. A colleague of mine states “I’m not being paid to yack on the phone constantly. And to scream? well, the house better be on fire.”
Divas, in the positive sense of the word, treat themselves with the same respect care, and standards they expect from everyone else. Those curtain calls are definitely deserved! Start working for yours with good vocal health! Brava!