|Practicing your vocal exercises at home on a regular basis makes the difference in how fast your voice improves. Singing is coordination between air and muscles. How well you coordinate the air and muscles of the voice, determines whether you are reaching your true ability as a singer or not. The only way to get there is to practice and to practice regularly.
A singer's regimen is best likened to the regimen of an athlete. Imagine an athlete who practices once a week, twice a week, three times a week? Then imagine an athlete who practices five to six days a week? Who is going to be the better athlete? I know it sounds simple and you agree with me, but I'm sure you will also agree that establishing a new discipline in one's life is not easy. Here are some tips to establishing and improving your vocal regimen.
I recommend using a system for building the voice as well as breathing, warm up and cool down. The voice building is the "nuts and bolts" of your training as it builds the breath, tone and range of the basic instrument in the first few years. At my voice studio we use the Horatio Connell Master Vocal Exercises #1-38. You can log on to our site at www.vocalmag.com to find out about our program.
Here is a plan I encourage my students to follow that works beautifully. Start your practice with three times a week for the first two weeks, then add a day for the next few weeks and in a month you are vocalizing five days a week.
Your Vocal Regimen:
Five days a week. Here's the order and outline of your practice: (approx. 1 hour)
1. Breathing exercises - 10 min
2. Stretching and self massage exercises - 5 min
3. Warm ups - lip and tongue trills and Mah's - 8 min
4. Voice Building Exercises - 35-40 minutes
The most important thing in practice is "more days" versus "longer sessions". It is preferable to practice 5 days for 30 minutes than 3 days for one hour. Especially in the first two or three years of building your vocal instrument.
Besides your vocal practice, staying healthy is the key to a great voice. The Three Day Rule is a way to monitor your own vocal health and is a failsafe way to prepare yourself for a performance or recording. The rules consist of “everything you need to do and everything you need to stay away from for three days to ensure a problem free voice.
The Three-Day Rule
1. 10 to 12 glasses of water a day. No kidding.
2. Extra fruits and veggies. Foods with high water content. Watermelon is particularly hydrating.
3. No dairy.
4. No caffeine. That means no coffee, black or green tea, no coca-cola, no chocolate or hot chocolate. Caffeine in any form is dehydrating.
5. No sodas. Sodas cause acid reflux, which burns the mucous membrane of the vocal cords. The result is irritated and inflamed vocal cords, which translates into raspiness/hoarseness and a compromised range. Visit http://www.texasvoicecenter.com/advice.html for more info.
6. No spicy foods. Spicy foods also cause acid reflux. See #5.
7. No eating late. Eating late causes acid reflux. Eat at least three hours before bedtime, see #5. Do not lie flat. Prop yourself up with one or two pillows. Position the pillow under your shoulders so your neck is not strained. This will help keep the stomach acids from washing up on to your vocal cords.
8. Absolutely NO antihistamines. They are severely drying to your voice. If you suffer from allergies you must get tested by an allergist and get on a treatment program that does not include antihistamines. There are many alternatives including herbal tinctures and Chinese medicine as well as dietary changes. Many people who suffer from allergies are allergic to wheat, dairy and
9. No alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating. One beer or one glass of wine during this time won’t kill you, but absolutely NO hard liquor. It is extremely drying. However it is best to completely stay away from alcohol of any kind.
10. No smoking. No smoking of any kind. If you are a singer you shouldn’t be smoking period. It makes singing so much harder than it should be. Your vocal cords are in a constant state of dryness and irritation. Second hand smoke is not any better. Stay away from smoke three days before a performance.
11. Eight to ten hours of sleep every night. For those of you who have trouble sleeping try Herbal Beverage - Calli “nighttime” tea available through our studio. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to order. We also recommend taking 500 milligrams of calcium before bed to assure sound and restful sleep. It works wonders. Visit http://www.coral-calcium-supplement.net/robert_barefoot_coral_calcium.htm
Steam 15 minutes a day with the essential oils of lavender and eucalyptus or make a pot of Throat Coat tea and steam with that. Essential oils can be purchased at any Aveda store. Visit their website for a store locator at www.aveda.com
Eat lightly the day of your performance. No heavy foods like red meat or rich sauces. Eating light will improve your energy. Chicken, fish and tofu/beans are the best sources of protein that are easier to digest. Fresh juices (no orange juice or citrus fruits) are great sources of energy.
Happy Rockin' Vocals to you!
Cari Cole Voice Studios
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