Category: Vocal Health

Mark David Williams - Ask the Vocal Coach

How Long Does It Take to Achieve My Best Voice?

Your Question

Once you start the vocal exercises on daily basis, how many days, months or years will it take to reach your your best of the best voice? And also what period to reach your permanent voice which you might not need any serious training again.
Justin

Answer

It’s my experience that one never stops growing vocally. There is always something to learn, someone to glean something from, and something to challenge yourself on.

I know that may be a stock ‘teacher’ answer, but it actually is true. Music is constantly evolving and there is always something new. Even just from a physical point of view, every individual develops differently. The male voice for instance is still maturing well into the twenties and even early thirties.

How Long Will It Take to Achieve My Best?

Really, the best and simplest answer I can give you is this: The harder you work, the less time it will take. It is hard work and it is hard to work in a correct and in a healthy way.

So to answer your question about how many days, months will it take to reach your best—that is difficult to predict—but with proper practice it’s sooner than later.

When Do I Stop Training?

There is always something to learn, someone to glean from, and something to challenge yourself on


And when will you not need serious training? That is a good question. I studied seriously from high school through shortly after college and then would have ‘check-ups’. I was a committed student of voice and maintained the things I learned very well, which is what led me to want to share what I know and have experienced through the years.

So I stopped ‘seriously’ training after about 8 years. But, I learned to record and watch and listen to myself and be a good critic of my own voice. Still, I have always needed support and help from a trained ear that is not my own. When I need a checkup, run into challenges—or when I had viral laryngitis, Chris Beatty helps me get my voice back on track.

It’s so important to have that relationship where you can go to your teacher and say, “Hey, I need a tune-up?” or “Something isn’t feeling or sounding right.” I don’t think a singer actually ever ‘perfects’ the voice in every aspect.

We Can Be Your Vocal Coach

Wherever you are in your vocal training, we can equip and encourage you to be your best. And bring you there in the quickest, most efficient way possible. If you are committed to singing, you will need a good balance of self directed learning with good resources and professional training.

Vocal Coach will give true and honest feedback and help you through a challenging vocal time or get you on the right track. Sometimes a call back to foundational singing is all a singer needs—breathe, stand upright, watch your jaw and head movement. Sometimes we face specific challenges unique to our own voice.

I know that’s a long answer to your question, but this is truly the best answer I can give. Keep on singing!

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.

woman with stress headache

Stress Takes Its Toll on Your Voice

If you are going through a difficult time in life – guess what? So is your voice.

Consider this: The voice is connected to the Central Nervous System. This system regulates the function of our internal organs such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and more. Recognizing this can be very helpful in understanding what is going on with your voice.

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