Steamer Update!

Steamer Update
Its been a while since Ive talked steamers, and since were deep into winter right now, it seemed like the right time to revisit this topic. Ive been using different types of steamers lately in order to understand how each steamer impacts my voice and my singing. Below youll see some different options with a few hacks and important things to note before making a purchase.

Option 1: The good ol Vicks steamer or equivalent store brand from your local pharmacy. I used one for years and it got the job done, especially on my non-eq budget.

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Pros:
-It’s affordable and accessible-you can get it at most stores.
-You can use any type of water in the device.

Cons:
-It uses boiling water, which can be dangerous (especially for kids!) and isn’t as effective as mist from a nebulizer. You also have to wait for it to boil instead of getting instant mist.
-You have to set it on a table and bend over to use it, which is inconvenient and often discourages people from steaming as frequently.
-It has to be plugged in so its not as portable.


Option 2: The Mypurmist corded steamer. This steamer is top notch and makes a huge difference when you are super congested or have chronic allergy and sinus issues. It's pretty popular amongst singers.

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Pros:
-Its a nebulizer, not a steamer, which means it uses mist, which has finer particles and penetrates deeper than steam.
-You can control the level of heat and mist that comes out of it.
-It has a strap that allows you to steam without holding the device, which makes it easier to steam and multitask.

Cons:
-You have to use distilled water ONLY in the device. It will break if you use other water. Luckily, distilled water is easy to find at grocery stores and pharmacies and is affordable.
-It has to be plugged in.
-Price. It runs around $150
-I’ve had two units break, BUT the company replaced them both right away, no questions asked. However, this is a real inconvenience that the company hasnt really fixed yet.


Option 3: Cordless Mypurmist. This is the cordless version of the above steamer. It’s similar, except that its cordless.

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Pros:
-Same as the corded Mypurmist-it uses mist and you can control the amount of mist that comes out
-Cordless so you can take it with you and steam anywhere.
-There is also a strap for hands free use.

Cons:
-You have to use special water pods that can only be purchased from Mypurmist. However, there is a hack! You can purchase these small, dropper bottles and fill them with distilled water to get away with not having to purchase the pods from the company.
-It’s cordless, but not small. This means you can travel with it, but it still takes up space.
-It’s pricy also at about $150.


Option 4: The myvocalmist steamer. This is a portable steamer that is truly portable. It’s handheld and can be literally put in your pocket.

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Pros:
-It’s super small and very travel friendly. It is truly a portable steamer that you can keep in your backpack, purse, dance bag, pocket, etc.
-It uses bottled water, boiled tap water, or saline water. If you travel with it, you can easily by a bottle of water at the airport and then steam on the plane, or you can use one of the saline pods they sell. If you're at home you can just boil some water to use or use bottled water. This unit does not use distilled like the Mypurmist.
-It comes with both a mouthpiece and a mask so you can steam just into the mouth or both through the mouth and nose.
-Ultrasonic to prevent additional drying.
-It’s more affordable at $85


Cons:
-It’s cool mist, which some people don’t find as effective.
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The mist stream isn’t as strong as the more powerful mypurmist devices, although you do still get 10 minutes of steaming.
-There is no strap so you have to hold it while steaming.
-$85 is cheaper than the mypurmist cordless, but still not cheap.


Option 4: Any ultrasonic nebulizer on the market.

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If you go to amazon.com and type in portable ultrasonic nebulizer, youll get tons of options at varying price points. I have the ClinicalGuard Ultrasonic Portable Nebulizer and its essentially the same as the myvocalmist. Its portable, ultrasonic, and uses bottled water or saline. The pro is that this unit is cheaper at $65 and I like that this unit uses batteries instead of needing to be charged. If youre on a budget, I recommend finding an ultrasonic nebulizer that fits into your price range over the Vicks steamer.


So what's the best option??
I think everyone should have a sturdy home steamer that works really well (love me the Mypurmist) and then if you travel a lot or need steaming on the go, invest in an additional travel steamer that fits your needs (cordless Mypurmist, myvocalmist, or any ultrasonic portable nebulizer). I have the corded Mypurmist at home and use the mypocketmist or the ClinicalGuard nebulizer on the go. That works really well for me.

If you're currently in a show, you need a steamer for home and in your dressing room. You want to be able to steam during the day and before bed, but also steam pre-show. Invest in two so that you don't have to transport your steamer from home to the show everyday.

A note about saline. There is research that shows that when you steam with saline, it can make you feel less dry than with regular water (although there
s no major difference in how the vocal folds function). I personally dont really feel much difference between the two, in fact I feel the most hydrated with the Mypurmist, which is not ultrasonic and does not use saline (despite those things supposedly being better for you). However, if you struggle with dryness, even after steaming with water, you might try investing in a unit that allows saline to see what impact you get! Saline steaming may be just the thing you need!

Happy Hydrating!






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NATS Poster Presentation

I had the honor of presenting some of my vocal health research at the NATS National Conference in Las Vegas this week. The response to my project was overwhelmingly positive and I had many requests to share the poster information online. Below you'll see a picture of the poster and then the text from the poster below. I'll be presenting the entire research at the PAVA/VASTA Conference in August in Seattle, Washington, and will have the data ready for publication shortly after. Stay tuned for more information!

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Abstract
Vocal health is taught in multiple formats and to varying degrees in different universities. This study looks at how vocal health and vocal injury are being presented in training programs by surveying students within five years of graduation. This study looks at what type of information is being given to students, how prepared students feel they are to handle their health and injuries upon graduation, the prevalence of injuries while in school, students suggestions to improve their overall vocal health education, and a comparison of vocal health education between various disciplines such as classical voice, musical theatre, and acting programs.

Methods
An online survey study was conducted with over 350 recent performing arts graduates from various universities and university-level certificate programs. Eligibility criteria included graduating between 2013 and 2017 with a degree or certificate in musical theatre, classical voice, acting or theatre.

Who Learned More?

  • Classical voice majors felt they learned more about vocal health and hygiene than musical theatre majors. Both majors felt they learned more than acting majors.
  • Classical voice majors also felt they learned more about voice disorders and vocal injury than musical theatre majors. Both majors felt they learned more than acting majors.
  • All three majors felt they learned less about voice disorders and voice injuries than general vocal health.

How Was it Presented?
  • Students who were presented vocal health information in an organized setting, such as a workshop or class presentation, felt more confident in their vocal health after graduation.
  • When vocal health information was presented only in lessons or as it came up in class, graduates felt less confident in their vocal health after graduation.
  • Students who had vocal health information presented to them multiple times throughout their training felt more confident in their vocal health after graduation.

Injuries During School
  • 80% of musical theatre majors reported that they or someone they knew had a vocal injury while in school, while 72% percent of classical voice majors and 60% of acting majors knew of an injured classmate.
  • When asked if they disclosed the injury to faculty and/or administration, 92% of classical voice majors said yes, while 83% of musical theatre majors and 77% of acting majors said yes.
  • Classical voice majors reported the most positive response from faculty when an injury was reported, with acting majors coming in second and musical theatre majors reporting the least positive response from faculty.
  • When asked why students chose not to reveal their injury to faculty or administration, 61% of musical theatre majors, 55% of classical voice majors, and 48% of acting majors chose “fear of being chastised for poor technique.” This was the number one reason for not revealing an injury in all majors. Other popular reasons were “shame or embarrassment”, “desire not to miss out on class or lessons”, and “fear of not being cast in future productions.” Musical theatre and classical voice majors also expressed “fear of not graduating on time,” while acting majors did not.

Since Graduation

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Conclusions
Vocal health information is most effective when presented in a formal setting such as a class or workshop. It is also most effective when presented multiple times throughout students’ education. Once does not appear to be enough to prepare students for the realities of the industry. Students will also be more prepared to handle their injuries if they are presented with vocal fold injury information in addition to general vocal health guidelines. Acting majors seem to be less prepared for the vocal demands of the industry, reporting more injuries upon graduation. More collaborative efforts between music and theatre departments could better prepare all graduates for a successful, healthy career.

For more information or to discuss vocal health in your program, please feel free to
contact me.

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Audition and Warming Up

Tis the season for audition. Lots of audition. More auditions than you thought possible. So let’s talk about warming up and staying warm as you literally pound the pavement running between Pearl, Ripley, Equity, and Nola. Here are some tips to help you not be that person loudly warming up in the holding room.

All of these tips should be practiced at home when you’re able to sing full out so you get a handle on the tool and how it impacts your voice. Everyone is different, so something that works for one person might not work for another. Better yet, pay a visit to your voice teacher or voice therapist and ask their thoughts on how you can stay warmed up!

Strategies for Warming Up
Generally speaking, the best strategy is to try and warm up early in the day if you can and then try and keep your voice warm as the day goes. So if you’re headed to a dance call, warm your voice up beforehand in case you’re asked to sing. Then you can use one of these tips below to touch base with your voice before singing. If you’re headed to wait in line at 5:00am, as soon as there’s a moment to sneak away into a practice room to warm up, I would do it. There’s typically some time between when you're let in the building and get on the list, and when they start to call the list or when they make the "are we seeing non-union today" call. This is typically a good time to get away for 15 minutes to warm up. Then you can use these tools to stay warm as the day passes.

I will also say that if you’re in a routine of warming up your voice and doing technique work often, then you’ll warm up faster. If you only warm up and sing once or twice a month, it’s gonna be slow going when you need to be warm fast. Make it a point to warm your voice up and sing through some rep at least a few times a week so that your voice stays conditioned.

And now for some ideas on how to stay warm as you sit there patiently waiting…and waiting…

The Belt Box
You probably know about the Belt Box. It’s a worthwhile investment if you want to be singing full out with articulation. It’s great to use at home to not disturb neighbors or roommates and it’s portable and easy to carry to auditions. The newer model comes with a strap so you can use it hands free. It’s a nifty invention for sure.

The caveat to the Belt Box is that some people find that they hold back when they sing into it. I recommend practicing with the Belt Box when you’re able to sing full out so that you can get used to what it feels like to really sing and then put the mask on. You’ll notice some back pressure in your mouth and throat and sometimes just the muffled sound throws people enough that they start to modify or hold back. If you can master the small learning curve, it’s a good investment and does a great job muffling the sound.

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Straw Phonation
The downside of the Belt Box is that it’s not very inconspicuous. It’s somewhat cumbersome. If you’re looking for something a little less obvious, try some straw phonation. You can use a straw of any size to sing into for a muffled, less obvious way of warming up. Put the straw in your lips with no space for air to leak and sing. Be sure no air is escaping from your nose or from around your lips. With this particular tool you want all the sound out the straw for maximum impact. The smaller the diameter of the straw, the bigger the boost you get from the vocal folds, and the more muffled the sound becomes on the outside. I should also mention that the smaller the diameter of the straw, the more challenging it can be to sing into it, so practice with different size straws until you find your perfect fit.

You can’t use articulation in the straw, but you can move your tongue to make different vowel sounds. You can also simply glide up and down in your range to stay warm. If you’ve already done a proper warm up, this is a great way to stay warm and connected. There are all sorts of reasons why this is effective for your voice, but it tends to help the vocal folds become less pressed and close more efficiently. (Have more questions about how it works?? Comment below with any questions and I'll be sure and answer them!) However, you should practice this at home first and make sure you get a sense of what your voice feels like after using the straw so you know what to expect.

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Check out this video below from my friend Ingo Titze about straw phonation.




Blowing Bubbles
Blowing bubbles is another option that can be just as effective as small straw phonation (and sometimes even more effective for some people-remember, everyone is different!). Put a straw into your water bottle and blow bubbles while vocalizing. Just like the prior straw phonation, you can’t articulate, but could move your tongue a bit for some vowel shifts if you want. You also want to make sure all the air and sound is coming out the straw. You can sing phrases of songs while blowing bubbles, or just slide up and down. It’s a little less quiet than the straw by itself because of the bubbles rattling around, but it’s still super effective and somewhat inconspicuous. Just like plain straw phonation, there are all sorts of reasons why this is effective, but it mainly helps the vocal folds close more effectively. It also adds a breath element with being able to see the impact of the breath in the form of bubbles.

I keep a straw in my water bottle at all times and every time I grab a sip, I blow some bubbles and vocalize. It allows my voice to stay unpressed throughout the day and keeps my voice warm as I go from lesson, to lesson, to lesson.

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Other Ideas
If you don’t have a BeltBox or a straw handy, there are the more obvious things you can do that are a bit more noisy and might be annoying to your fellow actors, but they are worth mentioning. They can be handy in a pinch.

You can do a lip trill, raspberry, or tongue trill. To lip trill, you put your lips out like a pucker and blow air. A raspberry has your tongue out over your bottom lip and then you blow air. A tongue trill is like rolling your r’s.

You can vocalize on a fricative sounds like V, Z, Th, Zh, etc.

You can vocalize on a nasal consonant like an N, M, NG, or GN.

You can use any of these sounds to sing an exercise, a phrase of a song, or just a siren or pitch glide. They will all muffle you to some degree, but aren’t as ideal as the straw or belt box when it comes to trying to be quiet.

And never underestimate the benefit of a good physical stretch. Be sure you're standing up often and stretching. You want your body to be awake and connected in addition to your voice. Using any of these quieter tools as you stretch or as you walk down the hallways is a good idea to connect the voice to the body to the breath.


Questions about any of this?? Have an idea yourself?? Comment below and let me know. And most of all, happy singing and auditioning!



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Hydration Help!

It's no surprise to anyone that knows me that I'm all about hydration. I think it must run in the family because my baby brother is currently starting his own hydration supplement company, which is awesome. I'm all about this because constant hydration is really necessary to keep your vocal folds vibrating efficiently. As soon as your folds are dry, you need more air pressure to get them moving, which can lead to problems if you're constantly pushing to get your folds in action. Also, the body has a bit of a hierarchy for hydration and your vocal folds are unfortunately pretty low on that priority list. Little things like, oh, the brain, lungs, and heart are at the top of the list! Once you mix in the dry winter air with the very dry heat from your heater, you have a recipe for a hydration disaster! Hydration is always important, but it's even more so in the winter months. Here are some of my favorite hydration, humidification, and steaming tips, along with the products that I recommend to make your hydration easier.

Hydrate
Nothing beats drinking water. I recommend a reusable water bottle that you take with you everyday. Refill it as often as possible. Favorites: I love my Hydroflask because it keeps my water cool, but literally any bottle out there that holds water will do.

Have trouble drinking enough water in a day or curious about how much you actually drink? Download an app to help track your intake. Favorites:
Plant Nanny becuase there are cute plants you get to water! Having a bottle and an app not enough? Consider the Hidrate Spark. It's a reusable water bottle that syncs to an app and not only keeps track of how much you physically drink, but the bottle glows when it's been too long without water. This is next level hydration!

Do you sweat a lot? Consider supplementing your water with electrolyte supplements. This helps your body recover faster after activity. There’s no research about these and the vocal folds, but if you’re sweating a lot in a show or at the gym, your body will thank you! Favorites: MyHy, Nuun Tablets

Humidification
During the winter, I can't tell you how many people come to me and say, "I'm not sick, but I wake up with a sore throat every morning." This, my darlings, is from lack of humidification. If you're sleeping in dry winter air mixed with heat (especially NYC radiators), then you're breathing in dry air all night. This leads to dryness and often a scratchy throat. You need a humidifier running anytime you're spending time in your room, and definitely while you're sleeping. You can buy them for as little as about $30 at your local pharmacy. However, it's important to note that the cheaper they are, the more maintenance they usually require. If you can avoid it, don't buy a humidifier that requires a replaceable filter. The filter just sits in water and creates mold. That's nasty. If you're traveling, consider a small travel humidifier that uses a water bottle as the tank. Favorites: I love the brand Pure Guardian. The tanks are treated and don't need to be cleaned. They have multiple sizes and many of them do both warm and cool mist. These humidifiers are my jam!

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Steamers
People often don't realize that humidifiers and steamers are different things and that they're both needed. The humidifier moistens the air, while steamers are meant for direct inhalation. This is the only way to directly moisten the vocal folds. I've tried a lot of different steamers and created a pros and cons list for you.


Option 1: You can get a Vicks steamer or equivalent store brand from your local pharmacy and it works well. I used one for years and enjoyed it.

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Pros:
-It’s affordable and accessible-you can get it at most stores.
-You can use any type of water in the device.

Cons:
-It uses boiling water, which can be dangerous and isn’t as effective as mist.
-You have to set it on a table and bend over to use it.
-It has to be plugged in.


Option 2: The Mypurmist corded steamer. This steamer is top notch and makes a huge difference when you are super congested or have chronic allergy and sinus issues. It's pretty popular amongst singers for how effective it is.

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Pros:
-It uses mist, which has finer particles and penetrates deeper than steam-this is a game changer for allergies, asthma, and sinus issues.
-You can control the level of heat and mist that comes out of it.
-It has a strap that allows you to steam without holding the device.

Cons:
-You have to use distilled water ONLY in the device. It will break if you use other water. Luckily, distilled water is easy to find at grocery stores and pharmacies.
-It has to be plugged in.
-Price. It runs between $125 and $150
-I’ve had two break, BUT the company replaced them bother right away, no questions asked.


Option 3: Cordless Mypurmist. This is the cordless version of the above steamer. It’s similar, except that it has no cord.

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Pros:
-Same as the corded Mypurmist-it uses mist and you can control the amount of mist that comes out
-Cordless so you can take it with you and steam anywhere.
-There is also a strap for hands free use.

Cons:
-You have to use special water pods that can only be purchased from Mypurmist. To me, this is a huge bummer that makes this product pretty unaccessible.
-It’s cordless, but not small. This means you can travel with it, but it still takes up space.
-It’s even pricier than the corded version at about $180.


Option 4: The mypocketmist steamer. This is a portable steamer that is truly portable. It’s handheld and can be literally put in your pocket.

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Pros:
-It’s super small and very travel friendly. It is truly a portable steamer that you can keep in your backpack, purse, dance bag, pocket, etc.
-It uses bottled water or boiled tap water, both of which are easy to come by. It needs the mineral content to work, so distilled water is out. If you travel with it, you can easily by a bottle of water at the airport and then steam on the plane. If you're at home you can just boil some water to use.
-It comes with both a mouthpiece and a mask so you can steam just into the mouth or both through the mouth and nose.
-It’s more affordable at $85

Cons:
-It’s cool mist, which some people don’t find as effective.
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The mist stream isn’t as strong as the more powerful mypurmist devices, although you do still get 10 minutes of steaming.
-There is no strap so you have to hold it while steaming.
-$85 is cheaper than the mypurmist cordless, but still not cheap.




So what's the best option??
I think everyone should have a sturdy home steamer that works really well (Vicks or the Mypurmist options) and then if you travel a lot or need steaming on the go, invest in an additional travel steamer that fits your needs (cordless Mypurmist or Mypocketmist). I have the corded Mypurmist at home and use the Mypocketmist on the go. That works really well for me. At home I have my Pure Guardian humidifier and when I travel I use my travel humidifier for my hotel room. And of course I always have my Hydroflask filled with water everywhere I go, because…duh.

Happy Hydrating!





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Touring Tips

I've spent the past 8 months as the Vocal Consultant for TheatreworksUSA primarily working with their touring casts. Part of my work involves preparing the actors for tour, as well as helping them when they're out on the road and encounter trouble. I have a lot of clients headed out on tours soon, so I wanted to share some of the tips I've compiled to help you stay healthy on the road. Be sure and head over to the My Favorite Things page to see links to purchase many of the items you'll see here.

Hydration
  • Drink water consistently, not just pre-performance or pre-travel. Your body has a hierarchy of hydration needs and the vocal folds are pretty low on that list so you need to be hydrating consistently in order for the folds to get a real benefit.
  • Use a travel humidifier in your hotel room and your dressing station. This keeps you from drying out over night or during a show.
  • Use a steamer daily. You can never steam too much.
  • Consider adding electrolyte supplements to your water to increase your body's overall hydration. These are especially great pre, during, and post activity like a show or a workout, as well as when you've been in other sweaty situations such as hiking in the sun. (They are also great after a night of drinking. Electrolyte supplements=hangover cure!)
  • The Humidiflyer is essential for traveling. It's a mask that you wear while on a plane that keeps you from breathing in dry air. It's a game changer for frequent traveling and singing.
  • Nasal irrigation is great for dry nasal passages. A neti-pot, saline spray, and nasal gel are all great.
  • Lozenges can help keep your mouth moist when traveling and performing.
  • Scroll down for an old post on hydration for more tips.

Rest
  • Sleep is essential to allow your body and voice time to recover between shows. Aim for 7-9 hours each night.
  • Try and control your bedtime, especially if you have early morning press events, shows, or other obligations.

Moderation of Voice Use
  • Monitor the amount of speaking and singing you do offstage. Remember that the vocal folds don't know if you're on stage or not. Voice use is voice use.
  • Avoid loud bars and other places with loud background noises, especially when you're already fatigued after a show.
  • Rest physically and vocally when you're tired.
  • Take vocal naps during the day when needed. If you're tired or feeling strained, have lunch by yourself with a book instead of meeting up with friends. Allow your voice some quiet time.

Moderation of Life Style
  • Always balance your booze with water. For every pint of beer, glass of wine, or cocktail, drink a pint of water. This helps you stay hydrated.
  • Don't smoke.
  • If you have reflux or general heartburn, try not to eat or drink anything at least 2 hours before bed. If you have to eat, consider a bed wedge to prop up the mattress.
  • Avoid any unnecessary drug use. It's especially important to avoid NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen) when performing. They increase bleeding, so if you suffer a vocal fold hemorrhage, the bleeding will be increased. Try Acetomenophen when you have a headache or cramps. If you must take an NSAID for a physical injury or other issue, try and take it in the morning well before a performance or rehearsal.
  • Visit this website to see how any drugs you take may impact the voice: www.ncvs.org/rx

Physical Hygiene
  • Your physical health will impact your vocal health, so be sure and prioritize workouts, stretching, meditation, and other forms of physical fitness that keep you well-balanced. This can be hard on the road, but can help you find consistency in your day from city to city.
  • Try and stay ahead of any illness by taking care of your body. Consider medications, minerals, vitamins, herbs, oils, etc. that can promote a strong immune system.
  • Remember that we're all different, so something that works for someone might not work for you, and vice versa. Always speak with a doctor or pharmacist before trying new medication or supplements.

Germ Spreading
  • Tours are close quarters, so be sure and wash your hands often and well.
  • Keep hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes with you as well as at your dressing station to prevent germs from spreading.
  • If you're contagious and have a swing or an understudy, call out. Don't bring your germs into the theatre to spread amongst the cast and crew.

Warming Up
  • Warming up is essential before a vocal task. Research has shown that warming up produces acoustic changes in the voice as well perceptual changes in the sound. Essentially, your voice will sound and feel better if you warm up in the most effective manner for your voice and the task at hand.
  • The most important part of warming up is understanding how your voice is functioning in that given moment. You must observe what is working well and what needs more focus. You want to know what parts of your show you're going to need to focus on vocally and what parts you're going to be able to sit back and let happen. This can change daily, and that's ok. You won't know whats going on without a warm up though.
  • Ask your voice teacher to create a warm up track for you before you head out on the road. This will give you an organized routine each show. This will also make sure that you don't over warm up before a show.
  • If you're worried about warming up in a hotel or with others around, consider purchasing a Belt Box or using a straw.

Cooling Down
  • The benefit of a cool down is that it allows you to leave your show behind and reclaim your everyday voice. This is especially important if you are using extreme voices or excessive singing.
  • Try cooling down by working in the opposite direction of where you've been singing. Also add in some speaking voice work to make sure your speaking voice returns to your default.
  • As with the warm up track, as your voice teacher to record a cool down track for you to use after each show.
  • You can also bring that straw back for your cool down.

Daily Vocal Routine
  • This is your opportunity to get your voice up and running each day and is not your show warm up. This is the chance to touch base with your voice each morning so that as you go about your day, you are using your voice in a productive way.
  • Try some easy lip trills through your range, some easy sirens and sighs on an "oh" as in "show", and some humms in your speaking range to get your speaking voice ready to go.
  • This is your DVR that assures that your speaking voice is ready to order coffee at Starbucks, call your mom on the phone, and then do that interview for the local paper in the afternoon.
  • On a day with little vocal obligations, consider doing these exercises gradually throughout the day.

What To Do If Something Goes Wrong?
  • First of all, don't panic.
  • Talk to stage management immediately. If you noticed any vocal change during a show, fill out an accident report form. Don't wait on this. It's hard enough to get worker's comp to pay for voice related injuries, so be swift and fill it out even if you aren't sure there's something wrong.
  • Increase rest, hydration, and steaming as a precaution.
  • Contact your voice teacher and talk through what's going on and see if they have suggestions on what to do. It's important to keep your voice team (laryngologist, voice therapist, and voice teacher) in the loop with what's going on on the road. Don't wait on this. The earlier your team knows what's happening, the faster they can help you.
  • Communicate with your MD. If you need to mark something, have a line reassigned, or need a vocal line changed, your MD can be helpful in making those changes for you. Don't ever make a change to any part of a show without approval from stage management and the music director.
  • If you are sick, see a doctor. Remember that it's normal to lose your voice with an upper respiratory infection for about 7-10 days. Anything longer than that needs the attention of a laryngologist who can scope you. When you're performing, you don't have 7-10 days to recover, so seeking the assistance of a fellowship trained laryngologist who understands the needs of singers is essential.
  • If you are far enough away from home that you can't see your laryngologist, call their office, speak with your doctor about your current issue, and ask for recommendations in the area that you are in. You can also reach out to your voice teacher or voice therapist for recommendations. Teachers, therapists, and doctors who are well-connected can help you get seen quickly by great doctors all around the world, so keep your team back home in the loop.

Hopefully these tips will help you as you head out on the road. None of this information is designed to replace medical advice, it's just here to try and steer you in the right direction. Try and purchase any of the items you want before you leave so you can be sure and have room in your suitcases. It's amazing how quickly those bags fill up!

And now for the most important tip from my personal experience: Always be the last one on the bus to the airport. This puts your luggage on the outside, which means that you'll be the first one off the bus and in line to check your bags and get in the security line. Makes for a much better travel day :)
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