Do you love metal, punk, or “screamo” music? As a vocalist, you’ll need to take extra precautions if you’re singing in these styles. Read on for tips from Austin, TX teacher Gfire M...
I live in Austin, Texas, the “live music capital of the world,” so I have worked with loads of vocalists who sing in touring rock bands. Some of these students only have one section of a song in which they scream — others scream for an entire set — so I work with them to not hurt their vocal cords. Here are my vocal tips to keep in mind.
1. Breathing Exercises and Vocal Warm-ups
No matter what type of singing you do, before you head out on stage, it is a good idea to do some breathing exercises to control your notes and some singing exercises to warm up your entire vocal range, even notes that you don’t use on stage. Do these warm-ups for 10-30 minutes and you will be more relaxed and confident for your set.
2. Plan Your Set
If you know that one song is really going to be full-on screaming, perhaps plan the next song to be a relatively easy one for you vocally. Obviously, this will not work if your entire set is scream-o.
3. Do Your Cardio and Core Strengthening Training
Any type of rock singing tests the physical limits of the vocalist, so it is a good idea to have a workout plan. Cardio exercises increase your lung capacity, and core strengthening gives you more support when you go for those yelled notes.
4. Drink Plenty of Water and Keep Some On Stage
In rehearsals, in warm-ups, and on stage, it is essential to keep your vocal instrument hydrated. Either room temperature or warm liquids are ideal for singers and screamers, since cold drinks tend to constrict the throat.
5. Know Your Notes!
Even if you are screaming a note in a song, you need to know what note it is so that you can scream in tune. Screaming in tune will help your band sound cohesive — it is just as important as tuning the guitar and bass for keeping your sound musical. Plus the added confidence in knowing where to aim your voice is essential for keeping your voice in good shape.
6. Drink Alcohol After Your Set
Alcohol is too drying for your voice and will exacerbate any ill effects screaming does to your throat. If you are a drinker, wait until after your set is over. Before and during the set you need to stay hydrated in order for you to scream successfully and consistently.
7. Stay Healthy!
Do your best to eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of sleep. Your body is your instrument, after all!
If you need more tips and techniques, you may wish to work with a singing coach who specializes in teaching how to scream sing. He or she can help you develop your screaming technique and personal habits to ensure you a full lifetime of singing and screaming well. Rob Halford of the heavy metal band Judas Priest, for example, studied singing technique and he is able to successfully scream sing after decades of constant touring.
Some singers are born to scream — so if you are that type of singer, put your vocal care plan into place and plan to scream for a very long time!
Gfire teaches music theory, opera voice, piano, singing, and songwriting in Austin, TX. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from University of Maryland, as well as her Master of the Science of Singing from Ernest George White Society. Learn more about Gfire here!
Photo by Nicole Rork