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There are many articles about how to make the most of your singing practice to become the singer you want to be. But perhaps equally important is to know when not to practice your singing.
What?? A vocal coach suggesting you don’t practice your singing?
Not so fast. Yes, practice is crucial, but did you know that sometimes practicing your singing can harm your voice? Or at the very least not do much for you. I am not suggesting that you don’t practice – hold your horses!
Recently I started reading ‘The Power Of When’ – a book by Dr. Michael Breus. This is a great book that teaches you about the different chronotypes, as well as how to figure out which one is you, and when to perform each one of your daily activities accordingly to make the most of them.
One of the things that I learned from this book is that being a Wolf, I can’t expect my muscles to be in a high tone early in the morning. No wonder why those early warm-up sessions are so different from my afternoon or evening singing sessions.
I am going to write here about my own chronotype because you might have a different chronotype and your body will work differently. If you want to know what chronotype you are, you can take Dr. Breu’s quiz to figure it out .
Thanks to this book I have learned to appreciate the fact that I shouldn’t force myself to be perfectly ready for a demanding voice session first thing in the morning. Turns out, it is natural for me to take a while to get started in the morning, as well as to have more energy in the evening. Wolves take a while to fully awake, while other chronotypes such as lions are ready much faster.
All this year due to time constraints, I have tried to do my first vocal warm-ups at 8 am. Even before I found ‘The Power Of When’, it was clear to me that vocalizing at that time in the morning took much longer to get my voice in decent shape.
You might be wondering why the heck matters your body tone for singing. Turns out, singing is quite a demanding activity after all! Remember that there is a lot of muscle work involved in singing. Sure, you want to be relaxed but that doesn’t mean that the muscles should be completely inactive. The right muscles have to activate the right way for you to have healthy singing.
When your body tone is too low, your voice will tend to go a bit breathy. It will take you longer to warm up. This is not the time to practice your belting or anything that demands more energy.
That is not what I meant. But you shouldn’t expect to have the same results from a singing session at different times of the day. It might be that you are energized in the morning and that might be the best time for you to sing. As for me, being not a morning person, I know now that my morning warm-ups are just to awaken the voice gently. Which is very helpful, but it is not the time to practice my Argentinian zambas!
Again, according to my chronotype, the best time for me to exercise is at about 6 pm. I agree that I feel more energized at this time of the day and this is when I can perform more demanding singing in a more effective (end, therefore, safer) way.
Of course, as a singer sometimes you can’t sing at your ideal time. Singing shows happen at different times, and sometimes work and life gets in the way of your singing schedule. So really the best time to sing is any time you can, but always have in mind how your body is functioning at that specific time and what effect it has on your voice. Again, if you are a wolf don’t get discouraged if you don’t sing like Christina Aguilera at 7:30 am.
Equally, if you are already dealing with a general low body tone which is given you a breathy voice, it is better to practice your singing at a time when your muscles will be more active to help you resolve the problem more easily.
Up to now, I have talked about what to expect from your singing at different times of the day. But there are some occasions when it is better to leave singing for a little later.
If you are angry, don’t sing. Unless you have a show. And if you have to sing, make sure you do some deep breathing exercises before you sing and you do whatever you can to settle.
When we are angry our system is set up into alarm mode. You probably heard about the fight, fly or freeze response. When you are in alarm mode, your vocal system is not set up to freely sing. Your breathing will not be helpful for your voice, your air support won’t either, and your throat will be closed. Singing is an activity that demands great concentration and when you are experiencing anger it is just not the best time, if helpful at all. Focus on bringing your body back to calm first.
Don’t sing right after eating. Just don’t. Your breathing and air support will be affected, plus the chances to experience acid reflux (which ruins your voice) will increase greatly. Plus, you will just not sound as good. This is another example of when singing training might not do much for you.
If you have to sing, don’t eat a full meal right before. Give it at least 2 hours after a meal.
You will be helping your singing progress and development a lot if you synchronize your daily activities with the rhythm of your body.
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