Top Tips to guard against ‘Lockdown Voice’!
Have you noticed any voice changes during this pandemic? Loss of power, loss of stamina, loss of range? I hear many reports from both singers and speakers referring to all of these vocal issues.
So, what’s changed?
The most obvious thing is voice use. Living at home. You may be alone, and using your speaking voice much less every day, or living with others who are working from home, and having to keep the noise levels down. You aren’t calling out to your friends, you aren’t having those conversations in busy places, in short, you aren’t exercising your voice as much as you were before. You are less fit as a voice user because of this pandemic.
You may be working from home, and if you are, you may be moving less frequently. Are you spending longer hours hunched over your computer? Are you taking regular breaks? There is less interaction with others in real situations, and this will be affecting your physical alignment and voice use.
Have you found yourself more tired, and yet sleeping less well? All of these situations factor into your vocal health and freshness!
Finally, are you loading that voice, trying to reach the computer screen?
I realised very quickly back in March, after my first full day of auditioning singers for the National Youth Choir, with five more days ahead of me, that my voice was simply not going to last the lockdown. My body, voice and mind were exhausted after that one day. So, what did I do? I bought a plug-in microphone to put right by my mouth, and began to stand to work. But there’s even more you can do! So here are my top tips for working from home, whether you are a singer or a speaker. Or get in touch for a full “Lockdown Voice Workout’ for your organisation, your choir, or you as an individual.
1 Keep moving! If you can afford it, invest in a sit/stand desk, or put your computer higher up so that you can stand more at work. If you do have to remain seated, be sure to continually get up and move around…. Pop outside, empty a bin, feed the cat, get a drink etc.
2 Invest in a microphone that you can plug in and have near to your mouth, but that still gives you freedom to move… being attached by wires to your computer is not going to encourage you to move about a lot, but a headset could be an alternative.
3 Keep a glass of water next to you at all times and continually sip from it through the day.
4 Stretch! I can give you a really excellent targeted set of stretches if you need ideas, but anything that stretches the body easily and gently, including some gentle roll downs to loosen the spine, will help keep your muscles flexible and guard against tightening and locking. Beware the full neck roll though… drop to the sides and front but there’s no need to roll your head backwards and crunch the spine at the back!
5 Gentle humming, lip trills, raspberries, sliding up and down in your normal speaking or singing range, perhaps trying a rolled ‘r’ if you can. Remember to take a nice, easy breath in before you go… don’t overfill and work too hard!