Nathan Lubbock-Smith talks about the importance of vocal hygiene
The voice is made up of different muscles that need to stay healthy through exercise and good vocal health. Lifestyle choices and busy lives can take a toll on the actor’s voice which makes it harder when projecting or belting out eight shows a week. Time and time again I have artists that see me with pre nodule symptoms and sometimes worse because they have taken their voice for granted through different reasons. The demands of theatre are much higher these days and vocal science has moved on over the years, so we can learn so much more.
There always comes a time when we meet the demands of stress through work and our personal life. The majority of the time, it will affect our voice just like when we are unwell, therefore we need to be aware of our technique. There is always so much to learn but the crucial thing is never forgetting to go back to basics. Keeping the voice free and forward. Don’t forget to stretch out the tongue, otherwise tongue route tension can play a dramatic part in tiring the voice (this is usually a big pain for most performers) and remember how to free your breath, sometimes we do not realise how much tension we hold in our abdominals from the gym or simply stress. The demands of life can create bad habits in our crucial tool “The Voice”. It’s like going to the gym or dance class. Keep the technique up, keep up class and be aware of vocal health. It’s always good to check in for an MOT, to make sure we are on the right track, plus there is always something we can learn. At the end of the day it depends how good you want to be.
What are the most important things to remember before a show?
Warm up is crucial. Warm up is not just for getting the voice warm but getting ourselves into placement. Releasing the tightness in our body from the day and ready for the show. Accessing the mechanics of the voice by stretching the head and neck and finding good posture. Use relaxation methods, Semi Supine is always good to do for five/ten minutes before a show, this helps correct our posture and allows the breath to be free by relaxing the stomach muscles and correcting our alignment. Therefore the voice will work better. Release any constriction that is held in the larynx by simple exercises such as silent yawning; this stretches your soft palate, throat and tongue as long as you’re keeping it forward. This takes no time at all. Gently work into vocal warm ups, working on using the correct amount of twang for the character of the show which also encourages good forward vocal placement, so the back of the auditorium can hear you. Remember warm up is your time.
What are the important things I Should remember when leaving the theatre?
Warm down is just as important as warm up. Warm down is resetting the vocal folds, bringing them back to neutral. A great tip is using a Lax Vox technique. A simple method, blowing and phonating through a tube, it is a holistic and cognitive approach and gives multichannel biofeedback. When we are vocally tired from the show, this useful tool can help by relaxing the larynx. If you don’t have one of these, blow using a straw or use fricative techniques.
Simple things to remember when performing
- Drink at least 2 litres of water a day, before and during a performance.
- Regular steam inhalation to lubricate the vocal folds, following a performance and the following morning. DO NOT STEAM JUST BEFORE USING YOUR VOICE.
- Warm up and warm down.
- Try not to lift heavy objects or lift heavy weights at the gym just before a show. If you do gym in the day, keep good form and alignment! This is essential.
- Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine and fatty foods 24 hours before a performance.
- Do not smoke
- Don’t drink iced water when speaking or singing.
- Don’t use decongestants.
Nathan Lubbock-Smith is available for vocal tuition via NLS Tuition www.nlstuition.com
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