Voice Survival
14 Mar 2017

Is Your Voice In Survival Mode?


Is Your Voice In Survival Mode

You’ve been singing for a while. You know exactly how to and you get gigs regularly. But there’s just one thing – you’re not enjoying each gig as much as you used to. Sometimes you’re even doing 2 sessions a day and by the time you get to the next classic-feet-1436108gig, you’re tired, depleted and dehydrated. A Friday night enjoying Netflix and chill and putting your feet up is looking mighty amazing right now.

You’ve gone into survival mode.

You definitely enjoy what you do but you feel overloaded and your voice is feeling it too. … Click To Tweet

Singers go into ‘survival mode’ in order to produce the sound they want but often the intention comes from a place of getting through a gig by any means necessary. Sometimes it can happen if you’re super busy and have a run of gigs and it can happen to any singer at any level – whether you’re a pro or just starting out. It’s a lot more subtle than it sounds, actually! What it really means is that singers are using their instrument to produce a sound but are using bad habits to make that happen. A lot of the time, those habits are unconscious but when those habits are ingrained, it can be hard to shake them. Can you see yourself in any of the below?

  • Raised shoulders (tension in the body)
  • Pushing air through the nose. It’s a natural instinct singers unconsciously use to avoid strain on the throat; especially when they’re tired or not feeling 100%.
  • Straining from the throat and neck area
  • Constant belting (used to not being heard in noisy places or people not paying attention to them on a gig if they’re providing background music etc)
  • Learning songs by rote (not taking time to really feel lyrics and their meaning because you’re time deprived and just need to get ’em learned!)
  • Not being present when you sing (thinking about the next gig, the next thing to do or whether or not you’re impressive to people who are listening to you)
  • Singing/belting with a lack of anchoring in the body and the throat area at the back is quite closed (Tightening the back of the throat in order to control the breath, sound and pitch).

If you can see yourself in one of these practices then you have been in survival mode. By the way… #NoJudgment. It is what it is and it’s a way to cope when things get stressful.

However, there is a way of getting more out of your voice by doing less, actually. By relaxing away from being in survival mode and focusing on what switches you on, opens your voice up and you become more attuned to your body telling you what it needs.

However, before you shift habits that don’t serve you, I say there is always a benefit (a mechanism which has helped you cope in some way) to adopting and cultivating a habit, even if it’s subconscious. Things to ask yourself are:

  • What do you think you’d be losing out on if you didn’t adopt the above practices?
  • Would your craft suffer in some way?
  • Would you be able to control your voice in the same way?
  • Are you afraid that if you don’t do these things your vocal delivery will suffer when you are shattered or stressed or time deficient?

Here are some tips you can cultivate over time to get out of bad habits and learn to rely on technique that helps you maximise the fun and enjoyment when you sing – even when you’re tired or stressed!

Stay present

NEW BLOG! Concentrate on every word you sing. Music makes you happy, right? Let the sound of… Click To Tweet What you’re hearing is the result of your DNA, your hard work in practice and your reward for stepping out there and being visible! This moment is yours to enjoy!

Bring your breath down

When you become aware that your breath/sound is predominantly being pushed through the nose, make a decision in that moment to use your imagination to bring the breath down to my belly button, in fact. It immediately takes your breath out of your head and into your chest where it has more space to resonate and produce a sound which is more grounded and sounds a lot more full. It works a treat and even works to counteract the !  Remember: your mind tells your voice what to do and your imagination is a powerful tool!

Explore Different Colours

I know how it is. You get on gigs which have poor monitoring, a loud band etc and you’re left competing for volume by getting louder. What you don’t realise is that subconsciously you can tell yourself that in order to be heard you must belt or be loud and it robs you from exploring all of your different textures and colours that lie within your voice. My advice? When you practice, explore the different tones of your voice. Louder is by no means always better. There’s a lot more to your voice than that. And perhaps you can ask for better monitoring on your gigs so you don’t have to push your voice in competition. (I like to use In Ear Monitors on all my gigs, personally AND have a stage monitor but you get to request what you need on your gigs. Remember, if your voice wears out, there’s no replacing it so treat yourself well!)

Feel It

The way you enjoy singing and gigs is to feel good when you’re doing them. Even if you’re learning somebody else’s song and you don’t particularly like the song (you may ‘have’ to do the song) you can dedicate the song to something or somebody you love. When you infuse the song with all your good feelings, you will FEEL different and it won't just… Click To Tweet.

The Big ‘O’

I have a practice I teach my clients whereby I get them to imagine there is a small ‘o’ at the back of their throat, which represents tightness. I ask them to imagine this ‘o’ becoming larger as they sing which helps the throat relax at the back and open to become a big ‘O’. Through this new opening the breath can flow easier and a bigger sound is created. You can practice using this technique so that you know you can control it when you’re on stage.

Share with me your comments below! I’m here to help!

Happy singing, happy slayage, happy music, happy singer!



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