The anxiety around singing often looms large for musicians who routinely face high-pressure live performance and recording situations. For many musicians, there’s often a sense that a great vocal performance is always just out of reach, but there are easy things we can do to ensure we’re getting the most out of our voices during performances. Here are four tips to help you prepare for an important vocal performance:
Drink a whole bunch of water and skip caffeine, dairy, and alcohol
Sure, you already know to drink lots of water before you sing, but are you really doing it? Experts recommend drinking 8-10 glasses of water for the three days ahead of your performance. That’s much more water than most of us are used to drinking, so you’ll need to make a real effort to do this. You should also avoid drinking anything with caffeine, dairy, or alcohol for the three days ahead of your performance. Why? Because these beverages can mess with your sleep and can worsen nasal congestion.
Prepare your voice with warmups in advance
This tip is mostly directed at musicians who might be new to singing and performing. Your voice needs to be thoroughly warmed up and prepared in order to be at its best during a performance. This means that recording or singing live isn’t going to go very well if you’re voice isn’t properly warmed up and ready to go. Setting aside at least 15 minutes a day to sing through vocal exercises weeks in advance will give your voice the strength and resilience it needs to perform in peak condition.
We’re all tired of hearing about how important sleep is, but getting the right amount of rest is crucial for singers. One of the easiest ways to tell if someone hasn’t slept well is through detecting hoarseness in their speaking voice. Inadequate sleep makes a singer’s vocal performance strained and harsh-sounding. The usual 8-10 hours of sleep is recommended for singers during the three days before a vocal performance, but this can be a difficult task for musicians on tour or for those suffering from insomnia. Conventional advice applies here. No screens an hour before bed time, limit your alcohol and caffeine, and go to bed at a consistent time every night.
Restrict your diet
Food doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with your voice, but what you eat can absolutely mess with your voice. Spicy foods or anything that can cause acid reflux should be avoided at all costs. Foods that can dehydrate you like chocolate should also be skipped for the couple of days before you’re set to sing.
It’s important to keep in mind that these tips will help singers who are already regularly practicing and working towards improving their voices. In other words, all the best vocal tips in the world won’t help you if you’re not already working on your voice in a meaningful and consistent way.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.