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Keeping Your Singers on the Road (for UK Music Managers Forum)

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Managers may think of their touring singers as instrumentalists without the extra cartage and tech costs, but the fact is that singers carry the most fragile equipment of all: their vocal folds. The average size of the human vocal folds is only about the size of a penny and the entire tour's existence can rest of the health of those penny-sized pieces of tissue.

Here are some tips on keeping your lead singer on the road and off the operating table:

1) Make sure the singer gets some vocal training and health preservation strategies from an experienced voice coach before the tour starts.

2) Singers are greatly helped by dual, custom in-ear monitors. They can make the difference between a solid tour or voice loss after one week. They're expensive but worth it.

3) Don't over-load your singer with an intensive interview schedule and keep the meet-and-greets to a minimum. The more the singer talks, the less rested the singing voice will be. Singers need a ton of vocal rest to sound fresh.

4) During rehearsals, if the singer asks the band to turn down, make sure the band turns down. Instrumentalists often don't understand how difficult and destructive it is when a singer feels forced to sing over the music.

5) No one sings well first thing in the morning, but the same goes for speaking. Allow for a schedule where the singer has a chance to wake-up before having to use their voice.

6) Arrange for a vocal exam prior to the tour with a local laryngologist. Get a photo and/or video on record of the singer's vocal folds before there are problems. It's called getting a baseline. If the singer experiences voice loss or voice pain during the tour and needs additional exams, the baseline image can be used for comparison.

7) Get a list of laryngologists in each of the cities in which the act is appearing. A laryngologist is an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor with additional training in the larynx. Especially desirable is a laryngologist who specializes in professional voice.

8) Treat your singer as the fragile and important leader of the band. Cater to them, baby them, keep them warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot. Singers face sickness hourly and unlike most players, risk permanent damage to their instrument.

Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is a top LA voice coach and vocal health consultant. She is available for Skype consultations on vocal technique and health preservation strategies for the touring singer.

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