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You're so tired you can't hardly string a sentence together, yet you have to sing that day! What can you do? OK, first of all the bad news: physical fatigue is a leading cause of vocal fatigue. Singing or even speaking a lot while tired can limit your vocal control, pitch accuracy and shorten your vocal range. It can cause vocal strain and even lead to vocal damage. There are some things you can do to limit vocal stress when singing tired. But you also need to recognize the point where you should cancel your performance - and be courageous enough to act on it! Let's dig in to all this:
How physical exhaustion can hurt your voice:
When you are physically dog-tired, drained, exhausted, sleep-deprived, you've 'hit the wall' or are 'under the weather' for whatever physical or psychological reason, your body does not want to support your Voice. It just doesn't want to work that hard. This is because it takes more glucose and oxygen to work the bigger muscles of your core - your gluts, low abdominal wall, back, thighs - than to work the smaller muscles of the throat, larynx, vocal cords, tongue and jaw. Delegating the effort necessary for good singing to these smaller muscles is detrimental to them, causing tension to set in at all the wrong places.
Also, the big muscles in your back that determine your posture so your ribcage is open and your diaphragm is stretched - they don't like engaging in their duties either. So your breath control is compromosed, and your shoulders and neck muscles try to help, but just interfere with the free operation of your larynx and your facial articulators. Not good!
7 wise things to do when singing tired:
- DRINK UP!
- EAT UP!
- DON'T NUMB YOURSELF!
- WARMUP and COOL DOWN!
- SUPPORT YOUR VOICE!
- DON'T SLUMP!
- USE CORRECT TECHNIQUE!
If you sing tired but wisely:
- You should notice that after your performance your vocal cords don't feel strained at all. In fact, you should be able to sing even better at the end of your performance than at the beginning.
- You should feel even more physical (instead of vocal) exhaustion... and you'll probably be hungry!
- Your voice should feel and sound great the next day, instead of trashed.
Here's when you should cancel your performance:
If you really can't gather the low placed, big muscle energy to float your voice on top, or the tall, energetic posture necessary to open your ribcage and control your breath, then by all means don't sing. If you do, you risk short or long-term vocal problems because...
- You will guard.
- You will push.
- Your voice will suffer.
Don't let your busy life, successful career, or your fear of canceling a show cost you the health and longevity of your voice. If your voice matters, blowing your voice out even for a Grammy performance is ironically counter-productive for your career. From experience, my advice is:
- Either be capable of supporting your voice and applying good vocal technique, or cancel your performance and live to sing another day!
- Need a good vocal warmup? Contact me and book a lesson; I'd love to help you!
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