When you’re a singer and a performer, taking care of your vocal cords is essential to staying on top of your game. How much does staying in shape physically factor into that? Here, Gainesville, FL vocal teacher Anna F. tackles the question…
Stop a random passerby on the street, and ask them to describe an opera singer. The typical response includes horns, a breastplate, braids, and beneath all of the accoutrements an overweight singer. It is important for singers of all ages to understand the benefits of keeping both vocally AND physically healthy.
From a hiring perspective, the importance of being in shape cannot be overemphasized. Opera productions have moved away from park-and-bark stagings, and are now moving to compete with the intense, dramatic acting of straight theater. Simply put, a singer must have the physical capability to easily get themselves around a stage (this goes double, if not triple for a singer with Broadway aspirations). In addition, many of opera’s most cherished heroines are supposed to be young girls, and/or even deathly ill (Mimi, Violetta, I’m looking at you).
But being physically active and athletic is important beyond the stage. I firmly believe that there is a direct correlation between good health and good singing. A few years ago I (unwillingly) picked up running. Between grad school, an assistantship, a serving job, and rehearsals, I didn’t have time to go to a gym, so running seemed the best option for losing some weight. And I will swear on my life that the controlled breathing necessary to a successful run (and not feeling like you’re going to pass out at any given moment) contributed to my increased understanding and grasp of breath control in singing. All of a sudden it made sense – you couldn’t blow all your air right away and expect to make it through the phrase, let alone the next half-mile. While this seems fairly common sense, the idea is fairly abstract until you’re bent over, gasping for air and wishing you weren’t still two miles from home.
I give all of my students the same advice: eat well, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and stay active. Nightly walks, running a few times a week, yoga in the mornings; pick one and stick with it! It will pay off in the long run.
Anna F. teaches singing, Broadway singing, opera voice, speaking voice and acting lessons to students in Gainesville, FL. She received her Bachelor’s in Music from the University of Florida, and her Master’s in Music from Christopher Newport University. Anna joined the TakeLessons team in December 2012. Learn more about Anna, or search for a teacher near you!
Photo by Tejas Prints