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Staying in Vocal Shape

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We've heard those stories of singers who lost their voices with age, but then we also have guys like Mickey Thomas who are still going strong. And my conjecture is that the folks who sound the same or even better with age kept up a good practice routine. 

It's similar to learning a new sport, or playing other instruments such as piano and guitar, where for the first 5-10 years you accumulate certain skills and in subsequent years continue to refine them. But you have to be consistent with your practice. Use it or lose it.

So for those of you experienced singers, what does your maintenance routine look like after you've already built a strong foundation? Does it look different from when you were first starting out?

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I teach, which gets me singing strong and doing exercises for quite a few hours a day, not including my own band, The Silent Still. Right now, my students are about 40% R&B, 40% Rock, 15% Screaming, and 5% other stuff.  Granted, it's not constant singing, but it's still a lot. And the more I teach in a day, the more aware I have to be that I do it properly. On the days I'm light on students, I'm learning and going through courses on singing.

In teaching, I also have to train my students how to maintain their voice, especially my more serious students. Often, I have them going over very specific warm-ups, and a few training routines meant for their personalized issues, or a full range of exercises meant for general use and only a couple specific to what they're going to be singing. Also, like Robert suggest in The Four Pillars of Singing, I have them constantly tracking through songs, or as my students call it, "humming while buzzing the lips". That alone is a great, yet light exercise. 

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Good response Martin.


However, I don't see "maintenance" as recovery?  Why would that be? When I put oil in my car, Im not fixing a problem, Im providing maintenance. Also, I like the term "evolve"... but that strikes me as something that an advanced singer and technique practitioner would be doing. You, me, Daniel, Felipe, etc... are tasked to "evolve" and continue to improve... but, remember (Martin), most people/students are NOT as advanced as you and I. So do we ask a beginner to "evolve"?  I suppose you could, its just semantics, but... As a long standing member and esteemed subject matter expert on this forum, ... I advise,... don't forget who the audience is that are making and reading these posts. Oh well, not a big deal, I just want to point that out.


- A healthy, steady and daily diet of semi-occluded phonations: nasal buzzing is best.

- Be mindful that speech mode is often the source of nasty singing problems. Bad habits from speech mode; grinding the glottis, resonating mostly in the throat, etc... greatly influences the singing voices ability to configure to a "high performance phonation system" for singing. For singers with poor speaking attractor states, (habits...), you have to first rehabilitate the voice. Get the vocal folds compressing more efficiently, get the respiration/compression quotient more efficient and learn how to resonant speech in a healthier, "top down", "Masking", position.  It can be done... these days I am doing more and more speech therapy for executives and people that just have serious issues speaking, but are not in need of a medical doctor.

- Vocal workouts that isolate and therefore, strengthen the tiny, intrinsic musculature inside your voice; TA, AES, and others... I keep going back to this, but here again... my most sincere answer and solution here would be to learn the TVS onsets inside and out, then practice them one note at a time. Get good at them. Apart from the general point that they are great techniques for singing, they also are just great vocal health / therapy techniques.  My speech therapy and transgender therapy clients use the TVS onsets as well. The TVS Onsets that will work best for strengthening this musculature would be: T&R, Q&R, D&R, A&R.

- Not smoking.

- Not pushing your speech mode beyond its designed capabilities when you are in noisy environments that your voice can not compete with, namely... loud, noisy clubs. 

Hope this helps...


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When I'm not gigging 3-4 days a week each show being 3x1 hour sets. I warm up a little in the am and then I'm teaching so I warm up through the exercises with the student. Also maybe take my self through a vocal workout after dinner.  But when I'm gigging I do a little bit in the am a little in the afternoon and then 15-20 before the gig, the first couple days and then maybe one warm up about 30 min towards the last couple days( as I'm warm from gigging) Only because of the demand of range being from Bruno to Prince to metal to Sinatra. I find if I don't take the time on each area I may personally not be up to par.  Lots of water. A shot of tequila or bourbon before the first set to relax tenseness. 

Also staying physically fit working out everyday has helped me a lot over the years. I stretch a lot and do push-ups and sit ups before gigs as well sometimes jump rope. To get my breathing going. 

When I was young I did pretty much the same routine except I was teaching

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I'm busy trying to keep my little video store afloat, but I make a point of doing something....some vocal movements...one day might be a hard and heavy workout, and the next a lighter one.  Before a gig, I do similar to Daniel... 2 or 3 warmups throughout the day.

I run a little battery operated vibrator all around my neck lately ....seems to help with tension I experince in general especially in the back of the neck.

I will take 1 or 2 days off, speak very little and have found out it was the best thing I could have done.

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Smoked brisket, potato salad, whiskey, little sleep and lots of stress. Breakfast of champions.

Just kidding, mostly. However, I think the single most important thing to have longetivity is good training and practice, and learning how your voice works and then doing that.

My best example of that is Tony Bennett.

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