It does bear repeating & I recently got asked a more specific question about vocal endurance & how to build up your stamina or what I call your “gig fitness”.
Even though not all singers I work with are gigging regularly I always tell them that I train them as if they are about to head off to tour for 300 days of the year!
So what should you be doing to improve your vocal stamina & endurance?
Five main things:
Viewing your voice like any other muscle in your body, albeit a small mechanism, will help you wrap your head around vocal training. Look at it like exercise for your body but more specialised. For example, like a workout at the gym. It pays to have a tailored ‘workout’ programme designed by a trainer (vocal coach!) to suit your needs that you can tackle 3-5 x per week & get reviewed every 6 weeks (ex-gym instructor here!).
So let’s check out each point one at a time:
Practice – It’s best to aim for 30-60 mins per practice session, 4-6 x per week. Just like the gym, if you are starting out it makes sense to build your workouts & stamina slowly so you don’t put too much strain on your muscles. Starting out 3 x per week for 30 minutes is great. Build it as you improve or if you are working towards a show or specific gig.
A month before I went on my last European tour with Sola Rosa, I created the playlist for the gig in iTunes, jumped on the treadmill & sang through the full set whilst either running or walking to build up my cardiovascular stamina specific to the songs I would be singing. That really helped with staying gig fit when touring. I did this at 3.30am in the morning so I could sing my lungs out & not freak out my fellow gym buds! You however do not have to be that extreme! I knew the majority of the songs already so it was more about getting gig fit with the songs specifically as well as getting physically fit to combat the tour stressors like plane travel, different food & messed up sleep routines.
If it’s a new show you are working on or new songs you are learning you can incorporate that into your vocal practice. That will also help to eliminate any lack of preparation performance anxiety!
In a nutshell my non gym singing practices look like this:
I’ve popped some links to the Big Notes Get Votes YouTube/Vimeo channels if you need more in depth examples/explanation.
5 mins – Journal/Formulate practice schedule
5 mins – Focus & Relax/Stretch/Posture Check
5 mins – Breathing Exercises
15 mins – Vocal Warm Up (if you are on my mailing list there is a special link for you to see a warm up tutorial from my 14 day vocal bootcamp -if you aren’t on the list, sign up below for the mailing list or the bootcamp so you don’t miss out on future treats!)
10 mins – Technical exercises
15 mins – Genre specific song practice/performance/listening for inspiration
5 mins – Cool down/notes for journal/next practice/reflection
The warm ups & technical exercises should be given to you by your vocal coach once they know your voice & what your goals are for your voice. A great warm up or wake up for your voice that suits everyone is a gentle, quiet siren on an ‘ng’. Check out my vid on how to wake up your voice with a siren here.
The other points I mentioned fall within this practice schedule
Rest – as mentioned above 4-6 x per week is loads so make sure you have rest days inbetween & that could even be a full day of vocal rest, like NO SPEAKING – it’s really hard to do but is a good reminder of what life will be like if you push yourself too hard vocally & end up on vocal rest for a long period of time.
Technique – this is HUGE. Singing with excellent technique in itself is the key to improving your vocal stamina. If you are doing it right, you should be able to sing 4-6 days per week without too much stress on your voice but you should be resting as well. The one thing singers tend to do that leads to fatigue is working the vocal folds too hard. Some key tips for singing to instantly help with this:
The high notes require less air, the low notes require more air. Pushing or reaching for high notes will exhaust your vocal folds.
Learning how to use placement, resonance & vowel modification to make singing easier are must-do’s for improving technique, stamina & overall enjoyment with your singing. Again, if you want to learn more about this check out my 14 day vocal bootcamp.
Consistency – this will really help shift the dial for your voice. Just getting the practice in & sticking at it will improve your vocal endurance.
Review – make sure you are trying lots of new vocal exercises, checking in with your coach or I suggest filming yourself singing & then ‘critiquing’ your performance or letting someone you trust critique you (I offer this in the form of a video assessment – check out the deets here.) You could approach it like a before & after singing vid. Tackle a song you find tricky before you start your regular practice schedule, go at it for a month, then record yourself singing the same song again to see the improvements!
There really are loads of ways of approaching vocal endurance & stamina but these are the key points (I’m assuming your vocal health care is pristine as well, if you need help check out this post on vocal care!) & if I don’t stop writing now, this post will turn into a novel!
As always, dying to hear how you practice & if you have any comments or thoughts to add.
Get practicing then!