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Concert Prep: What to do if you lose your voice

Concert Prep: What to do if you lose your voice
August 30, 2019 AGC

This is the final post in our ‘Concert Prep’ series. Today we’re discussing what to do if you wake up on concert day without a voice! If you missed the previous posts in the series, be sure to also read:

Losing your voice on concert day can be stressful. But there are things you can do to support your voice during the day so you can still perform. Today, Laura Knowling, one of our senior singing tutors at the Australian Girls Choir, shares her advice for what to do if you wake up on the day of a big performance without a voice.

1. Work out whether it’s vocal fatigue or sickness.

If you wake up sick then you’ll need to go to the doctor and look after yourself as they suggest. On the other hand, if you wake up and you have a tired voice, which can be caused from additional rehearsals and concert nerves, then there are things you can do to support your voice during the day so you can still perform.

2. Rest your voice, but don’t completely rest your voice.

Be mindful of your speaking voice and take it gently throughout the day. However the voice is a muscle, and you still want to be engaging it during the day. You wouldn’t play a netball grand final by lying in bed all day and then going straight onto the netball court. We recommend taking periods of rest, and periods of gentle use. Stress can also be one of the biggest things to affect our voices, so don’t be tempted to keep singing parts of the song to test where your voice is at. Trust that with proper rest and care you will still be able to sing during the performance.

3. Steam inhalation.

When our vocal folds get ‘tired’ it means they might be dry or a little swollen. Breathing in steam is a way to hydrate your vocal folds by getting moisture in from the outside. Steam helps keep your vocal folds moist, which is very soothing to irritated vocal folds. Once they’re hydrated they’ll be able to connect easier, and make more of a connected sound.

Fill a bowl with hot water and breathe in the steam from there. Placing a towel over your head while you do this will help keep as much moisture in as possible.  A simpler and equally effective way of doing this is to jump into a hot shower and breathe in the steam from there.

While you’re doing either of these, begin a very gentle and soft siren. The siren doesn’t need to be loud or in your full range. It’s simply to give your vocal folds a gentle massage by softly working through any cracks in your voice.

4. Warm up slower than normal.

We often lose our top notes when our voices are tired. So make sure you warm up your lower range meticulously. Only once you’re comfortable in your lower voice should you start increasing your range in your warm up. Make sure you set aside more time than usual so you can take your time with each element.

5. Sing safely and focus on your technique during the concert.

When the adrenaline of a performance kicks in, you may unknowingly push your voice harder than you need to. The last thing you want to do (especially if you have a performance the following day) is finish the performance more vocally fatigued than you were at the start of the day. This can lead to an increased risk of vocal injury. One of the beautiful things about singing in a choir is that your ensemble will be able to support you. We completely understand that you want to do your absolute best, but sometimes this means keeping things simple and focusing all your efforts on correct technique.

Good luck with your performance!

If you’re interested in joining the choir and auditioning for our incredible performance opportunities, check out all the details on our Enrolments Page

If you enjoyed this series, then please share it with a friend you know would love to have a read. And if you missed the previous posts, be sure to check out: