It is one thing to be able to sing a song and to sing it well, it’s entirely another to repeat that process for an entire show. Enter, vocal endurance. In layman’s terms, it’s the ability to sing for a long period of time with proper technique all while maintaining your overall vocal health. Sounds complicated but ultimately, there are very simple ways in which to increase yours! First, let’s talk about the indicators and how you can start identifying where your own level of vocal endurance is.
If you want to be a performer in any capacity, you have to have vocal endurance. You have to be able to finish a show and still be able to speak. Why? Because that means you sang in a healthy manner and didn’t harm your voice in any way! High five! However, if you can’t make it through a show without feeling some form of pain either in your throat or your jaw, or you find that you’re short of breath the more you get into your set, it’s probably time to start reassessing how you sing during shows.
Next time you play a show, or sing for a long period of time, start checking in with yourself. Much like when you’re practicing and checking in on your own technique, this is a good habit to form when you’re performing as well. Getting wrapped up in the moment and really feeling a song comes across great on stage, but the trick is having it all completely under control, vocally, while still selling a killer performance!
Starting to run out of air more than usual is a good indication that you need to work on your breath support or, simply stop moving so much. Is your voice starting to sound a little scratchy when you go for those high notes? Can’t hit the lower notes as well? The reason behind that is because you’ve tired out your voice by not using proper technique. Does your throat feel like there’s a ball stuck in it? Or does it feel tight at all? That also indicates over exertion and not properly taking care of your vocal cords.
So, now that we’ve figured out how to identify where your level of vocal endurance is, let’s talk about how to increase it!
Now, before you shut your computer in my face, hear me out! I’m not saying go and run a marathon. That sounds terrible. However, it has been scientifically proven that regular exercise can improve not only your overall vocal health but also improve the control you have over your voice, therefore, increasing your vocal endurance. This Article dives deeper into the positive effects exercise has on singers! If you want to start simple and work your way up, start taking a walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes. If you can’t do that, start walking around your office or your house for 10 minutes once an hour!
2. Check in on Your Technique
This seems obvious but sometimes, our technique needs a tune up just like any other instrument needs cleaning and checking in on! This is also something you can do during a performance.While you’re singing, you can start to notice if you’re taking deep enough breaths, and where you’re breathing (shallow breathing = chest moves up and down, deep breathing = stomach moves in and out.) You can also schedule a lesson with your voice teacher with the intention of showing them how you’ve been singing lately and have them give you their opinion.
3. Build it Up
Just like you would build your strength up, you can also build up your own vocal endurance. By starting small and practicing your set for 30 minutes, then working your way up to an hour (or 45, you choose whether you want to do increments of 30 minutes or 15 minutes!) and so on and so forth, you can start to feel your own endurance improving. Be mindful and check in with how you’re feeling regularly. It is unwise to practice an entire 3 hour show all in one sitting if you have never done so before! Be kind to your voice, your progress, and have patience!
4. Stay Hydrated!!
Again, this may seem obvious but sometimes we just need reminding that our body needs water to properly function and that includes our vocal folds. To give a brief rundown, vocal folds are layers of mucus membrane that vibrate together to create your voice. They’re stretchy and flexible so as to change your pitch, all of which requires adequate hydration. Staying hydrated also helps to prevent injury from overusing your voice which is why you should be drinking water during those long shows. At least one to two sips between songs is always a good idea! To learn more about the effects staying hydrated has on your voice and tricks on how to stay hydrated, you can check out this article by Allison Picard, a speech pathologist.
Vocal endurance is not something you are born with, although, most newborn babies would put that statement to shame, haha! It is something that is built up over time with practice and patience. By following the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier and improved show!