I was recently asked by a singer how to best prepare your voice on the day of a gig. Surprisingly, many singers and speakers don't even warm up before a gig, but this is the same as a marathon runner who doesn't stretch before a race! Not good! I thought that I'd share what has worked for me through the years, so here goes!
Of course, if you are gigging regularly, you will find that you need less preparation because your voice will be strong and 'in shape'. Singers and speakers have to be in training just like an any athlete , so you've got to keep your voice strong by vocalizing daily. If you have been trained in Bel Canto singing, which my Lawrence Vocal System is based on, you'll discover that the more you sing, the longer you can sing! Your voice won't be tired or strained, even if you work 5 nights a week, or do 8 shows a week on Broadway! Bel Canto saved my voice early in my career, and it has kept my voice healthy no matter how much I worked my voice. (Read 'My Story' to learn how I recovered from nodes without surgery.)
Let's say I have a gig on Friday night beginning at 7 PM. I like to give my voice a good workout several hours before, like at 4 PM, then just 'warm up' before the gig. So what I would do is vocalize for about 15 minutes in the late afternoon, followed by practicing a few of my songs to work on placement and concentrate on arrangements etc.
After about a 45 minute workout, I then rest my voice until it's time for the gig. As I'm driving to the gig I do some vocalizing, usually my 'floating ghee' and 'octaves' exercises. The former gets my voice very flexible, and the latter helps me get my voice in the correct, anchored, body placement.
Once I arrive at the gig, my voice will be warm and responsive. I usually start out with an easy song that helps me get my sound right, my placement where it should be (because singing on mic is always different than singing without a mic and sound system!). An easy song also settles you down, centers you, and smooths out any jitters you may have once you actually take the stage!
When you take a break, try to avoid loud talking, although you will be talking to your audience and meeting new friends, which is an important part of doing 'club' gigs. You can drink my Viva La Voice Tonic in between sets which will help to soothe and nourish your voice. I love it! (Email me if you'd like the Tonic recipe.)
If you are singing correctly, you can sing hours on end, night after night and not lose your voice. If you are doing a 5 nighter or more, I really suggest that you rest your voice during the day. Even with correct singing, your voice needs to be able to rest and recoup, just like any other part of your body!
You use your voice constantly, for your whole life; and if you're a singer or speaker, you need to insure that your voice will stay healthy for life! Proper care and feeding of your voice is necessary to maintain a strong, rich voice that is vibrant, clear and has a tight, not wobbly vibrato. As we age, we have to pay more attention to keeping the voice in good working order, or it will be harder to prepare for gigs when you've laid off for awhile. Vocalizing daily is key to a youthful, responsive voice, so I recommend that you honor your voice by putting that on your schedule!
Your voice works tirelessly for you. Treat it well and it will give you back the gift of sharing your songs with beauty and confidence!