Author: Chris Beatty

Chris is the vocal coach's Vocal Coach with over 40 years experience, and the developer of the multi-million selling Vocal Coach line of training products.

Singers in cold. Vocal Coach

Cold Weather Tips For Singers

As the temperature plunges, singers and speakers need to take extra care. Here are some tips that will keep your voice healthy. The bottom line is this: With a little thought and preparation the cold weather doesn’t need to be a problem.

Having lived in temperatures ranging from 112°above to 55° below zero (Las Vegas, Northern MN, NYC, Chicago,) I can tell you that when it comes to singing, temperature does matter.

I did most of my early formal training and singing in Chicago, and that’s one cold city in the winter. Here is some wisdom I learned from those who lived there and those who toured around the world.

Follow These Tips to Protect Your Voice From Cold Temperatures

In Through the Nose and Out Thru the Mouth

Try to breathe in only through the nose and out through nose and mouth. This gives the air a chance to warm and moisturize before hitting your larynx and lungs.

If you must talk outside, let your listener know you’ll be breathing in nasally which may slow your conversation down a bit.

Wear a Scarf and Hat

It’s easy to spot singers in New York City. They’re the ones wearing scarfs and hats even in mildly cool weather.

70–80% of body heat-loss happens through neck and head. That’s why in New York City it’s easy to spot the singers. They’re the ones wearing scarfs and hats even in mildly cool weather. They consider themselves vocal athletes and know the importance of vocal health. It’s no different than other athletes wearing warming sleeves or heavy hoodies when they’re on the bench. It keeps them ready to do what they do. Isn’t that what you want?

Stay Hydrated

Cold air is usually very dry and requires us to hydrate more than normal. Remember the rule: Half your body weight in ounces of water daily. 150 lbs. = 75 ounces of water… at least.

Because heated air from a furnace or even fire is drier air consider using a humidifier. Any time your home’s humidity is lower than 35% it’s too low for singers and very drying to the vocal tract. And, when your throat is dry consider a long, hot shower or using a Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler. It’s a great way to counter drying and even mild swelling of the vocal folds due to too much singing or speaking.

A Little Extra Help for Your Instrument

A topical moisturizer like Entertainer’s Secret Throat Spray can instantly moisturize the nasal passages, sinuses, upper throat and oral cavity. That’s a really good start to keeping moist. It doesn’t take the place of good hydrating, but it does its job well and it’s used by thousands of singers and speakers world-wide.

A warm drink will help warm areas around the larynx, but remember: caffeine is a diuretic and can dry you out. Staying with decaffeinated drinks (still some caffeine there), or better yet no-caffeine drinks is better on singing days. Something like “Throat Coat” tea is filled with interesting flavors and very good for singers.

Acclimate Before Singing

Arrive where you’ll be singing 20–30 minutes early to allow your body, larynx and lungs to “get up to temp.” Guitar players and photographers allow their equipment to adjust to room temperature and humidity before beginning an event and your vocal instrument is even more fragile.

Warm Up Smart

Smart singers begin every day with some humming and light vocal exercises so they are never too far from being ready to sing. When coming in out of the cold don’t just show up hoping to get your vocal mechanism in gear during the first few songs. Instead, as soon as your body begins to get comfortable begin lightly humming throughout your range. Then move into scales and lip-trills. (Hint: Putting some Vocal Coach warm-up exercises on your mp3 player or iPhone will always give you a predictable, familiar routine.)

Eat Smart

If you are outside a lot in cold weather you burn more calories just staying warm. On the other hand, if you are much less physically active in the winter months adjust your calorie intake accordingly. The way you eat and your overall health has a lot to do with your singing health. Try and plan ahead.

When You Have to Sing Outside

SOME OF US ARE JUST DESIGNED FOR COLD WEATHER

Are you part of any outdoor performances, or are you doing any caroling at Christmas? There’s no need to sacrifice your voice as you enjoy this special time of the year, so remember:

  • Warm up yourself and your voice before going outside.
  • Your throat and head need to be covered.
  • A cup or thermos of non-caffeinated tea or hot cider is a great idea.
  • Take more frequent, smaller breaths through nose and mouth rather than normal. Big, gasping breaths through the mouth will tend to chill the larynx.

What are your favorite cold weather tips? Let us know in the comments.

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Thank you for Being a Part of Vocal Coach

This time of year, I always think about how blessed Carole and I have been over the many years that we have been serving singers. Blessed to do something we love, and blessed to get to know so many wonderful people along the way.

10-keyvocal-ebook-200As a thank you, I have put together a little ebook answering the Top 10 questions I get here at the Ask the Vocal Coach. And, we are giving it away for free!

You can now take this with you as a reference wherever you go. Just fill out the form below to sign up for updates from Vocal Coach, and your free ebook will be emailed right to you!

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Interested in Singing or Committed to Singing?

Interested, or Committed?

There’s a difference between being interested and being committed. We see that difference every day in relationships, jobs, religion and—of course—singing. I am interested in many things, but committed to only a few. Let’s talk about you, and singing. And remember: Both interest and commitment are good—just as long as you don’t confuse the two.

Interested in Singing?

You are interested in singing if it’s fun for you to do and it makes you feel good. You’re not going to skip a meal or social event to do a vocal workout but it is an important part of your life. I feel that many of the people you know are interested in singing. After all, most people find themselves singing in some capacity—weather that’s singing along with the radio or at church—every week.

Committed to Singing?

You are committed to being a better singer if it takes priority in your life. Not above God, your family or your job—but close. It means your calendar and even check book show an investment. It’s more important than most things and gets your attention. Are you committed? If so, have you thought about what that means?

Commitment Is a Challenging Journey

Are you interested in singing, or committed to it? Both are good, but don’t confuse one for the other

The singer’s road to success is like any other. It can be well planned and smooth. Or, despite your best intentions it can be bumpy and seem to never end. With today’s constant distractions, you must be purposeful and deliberate or you will fail. No Excuses – Just Victory. If you are not intentional, what you intended to be commitment will become no more than casual interest. Unfortunately, casual can become a personal casualty if your intentions and actions don’t line up.

The good news is, it’s your choice. If you consider yourself a committed singer, be deliberate with your time and money budgets. Here are a few thoughts the I know can get in the way of acting committed.

Do Not Disturb

Clicking the Do Not Disturb function in your brain and on you smart phone will add time and focus to your vocal workouts. When you are singing, that should be the only thing on your mind.

Road Blocks and Detours

Do you really need to stop and smell the roses, or coffee or food now? Even good things can easily become road block and detours to your practice times. Oh, and your friends will still be there when you’re done practicing.

First Steps to Victory

Every week, Mark and I interact with singers who are committed to growing. They are replacing bad vocal habits with good ones. The excitement I hear in their voices is infectious. One thing they all have in common is that they are proactive. They did not just think about singing, or want to sing. They did something about it. Some start with a single CD/mp3 like Complete Breathing or get our Voice Assessment just to get the ball rolling. Others buy one of our bundles and start using it in their car. But, the point is they did something, and they are seeing the results. They are committed.

What Is Your Intention?

If your intention is to be a committed singer, I want to encourage you to take the right steps. Experiencing new skills and freedom will propel you forward for years. I think you’ll be surprised how taking those first steps can build momentum.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Get our Voice Assessment. This is a short session where Mark or I will listen to your voice and give you the encouragement and practical plan you need.

Vocal Coach's Pick: Daily Workout Voice

How to Use Vocal Coach Daily Workout

Question

Hi, I have the daily workout on mp3 but I seem to have missed how you recommend us to use it. Do we need to go through all the exercises or do we just pick the ones we like? Or do we hope to build up to the full 70 minutes eventually? Thanks

Answer

Practice is about quality time, not the number of exercises you sing

Thanks for your question, Lorenzo. As you probably know, Vocal Coach offers a number of teaching tools to help you build your singing skills. Tools like Complete Breathing, Tone, Warm-Up, Expanding Your Range and Diction teach specific topics with applied exercises. We also have the Daily Workouts and Ultimate Choir Warm-ups which are just exercises with great orchestrated accompaniment.

When using the Daily Workouts here are some thoughts:

  1. It’s all about quality time, not the number of exercises you sing in any particular session.
  2. Always prepare yourself so you are focused. Think through as well as sing the exercises.
  3. Before you sing a note check posture (lifting arms to ceiling) and do a few sip/hiss breathing exercises.
  4. As you sing, evaluate what you are physically feeling. Are you maintaining posture? Is the head staying centered over the shoulders and not sticking out or up for higher notes? Are you opening your mouth making it easy to pronounce the exercises? Can you feel the vibrating resonance in face and head?
  5. You can sing as much or as little as you like, but plan on at least 15 minutes of well sung exercises to even start warming up the voice. If you’re feeling good and doing well, take it as far as you want.
  6. Any time you start to feel vocal fatigue, STOP. Evaluate what’s going on making needed corrections. Then either move on or pause and regroup.