Life in the fast lane

Now 2018 is in full swing and the colds, flu and infection take hold over the winter months, having taken a look at remedies (click here for a previous article on this), I look at another potential problem facing singers.  

When you sing 'negative tension' can be your worst enemy; especially if it appears in and around the area where the larynx sits. Lack of sleep, stress and illness are the three common causes and getting a hold of it can be a challenge for any singer. 

The key to managing your negative tension is to first understand where it is sitting in your body: awareness is a powerful tool when it comes to developing your voice; knowing the areas where your tension most commonly shows itself is the first step in keeping it in check. 

"So how can I manage this?" I hear you ask. Here are my three top tips:

  1. Breathe: simply taking yourself off to take some deep breaths can help you identify the areas that are affecting you the most. Try this exercise: lie on your back, arms out to the side with your palms facing up and close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, taking the time to experience a truly deep breath (the test is an expansion in your rib cage). Focus your mind in on each area of your body, one by one and visualise breathing out the tension.  
  2. Steam: steam is a singers best friend! It can be useful in symptom relief from headaches, sinus pain, congestion and infection, allergies, asthma, colds and flu. Try this: fill a bowl with boiling hot water from the kettle, put a towel over head to block out air from the room and simply take some deep breaths. 
  3. Lavender: the wonder oil! A drop added to your steam to help with sinus conditions; add some to a tissue and pop it under your pillow case to help you relax before you sleep or whilst you are doing the breathing exercise in number 1. And on a completely unrelated note, I use it to treat the occasional spot! 

Identifying your own negative can be tricky, especially if stress levels are high. In these instances I take students through a relaxation exercise similar to what you might experience at the end of a Yoga class, but tweaked for vocalisation. Get in touch to find out more and ask me any questions, especially if you've tried any of the above three points - I'd love to hear how you're getting on.