Are you a soprano? Keep your voice in great shape with these tips from Saint Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L...
Being born a soprano comes with both its perks and its challenges. On the one hand, we sopranos have a lot of the solos in choruses and choirs, and most of the highly dramatic arias and ballads. On the other hand, we tend to overwork and abuse our voice more often and get diagnosed with a lot more pathologies of the voice. Every voice type is special, and soprano singers have their own quirks. Here’s a list of five important tips for sopranos to keep in mind.
Be patient, but don’t wait too long.
A famed soprano refused to perform an aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” until she was 30 years old, because she knew that she just wasn’t old enough yet. The human voice doesn’t really develop into all of its awesome brilliance until the mid-20s. And let’s face it, this could be one of those rare times in life when people tell you that you’re just too young. How great is that? That means that it’s important to listen to your voice teacher or your choir director if she tells you that you’re not ready for a certain song. On the other hand, singers’ voices have shelf lives, just like the bodies of professional athletes do. So, if you plan to pursue soprano singing as a professional career, don’t wait to find a voice coach. Start looking now!
Build endurance, but listen to your body.
It’s important to build endurance by learning how to sing for increasingly longer periods of time. Follow the guidance of your teacher, but this is effectively done – among other things – by having more frequent, but shorter lessons. This means that if you’re currently taking a one-hour voice lesson every week, then you could take two half-hour voice lessons every week. By building both mental and physical endurance, you’re also improving your concentration, making you all the more ready to sing the big songs. But remember, nothing is more important to your career than the health and longevity of your voice. So, as is always the rule, listen to your body and pay attention to sensations as you sing and speak.
Eat right and work out.
Every voice type generally has its typical physical characteristics. In other words, baritones tend to be tall and lean. Tenors are usually shorter than other men, with short necks and broad shoulders. Contraltos and mezzo sopranos generally have curvy bodies, while sopranos tend to be petite with long necks and a smaller amount of muscle mass. Our bodies are our instruments, and one of our goals is to have a strong and solid instrument. So, what sopranos should keep in mind is that it’s often really helpful to make simple strength training, like lifting weights, a part of your practice regimen. Be careful not to be either underweight or overweight. Eating right — meaning the right balance of complex carbohydrates, fats, and protein (to build those muscles) — is also really helpful in achieving that strong and solid instrument.
My voice physician once told me that he estimated that ninety percent of the vocal problems that his patients face are from poor speaking habits, not poor singing technique. Avoid the very popular “vocal fry,” talk in a well-modulated voice at all times, consult your voice teacher if you have any concerns and seek only an ENT (ear, nose, throat) physician who specializes in treating voice professionals. And sometimes, if you have poor speaking habits, you may need to see a speech therapist who specializes in treating singers.
Get a laryngoscopy annually.
Sopranos in particular are prone to nodules, hemorrhages and other pathologies of the voice. Early detection and prevention is key to having a healthy voice for a lifetime. One of the best tips for sopranos to keep in mind is to see a voice specialist physician yearly for an exam of the vocal mechanism, specifically the folds. A laryngoscopy is a quick procedure where the physician will insert a tube into your nose or a scope with a video camera at the end, which can detect several problems for which you may not be experiencing symptoms, including cancer. You already get annual eye, dental, and general exams. Your voice deserves the same!
Perhaps the most important tip for sopranos to keep in mind is to make stress reduction a part of your daily life. Stress, and the tension that it can lead to, make soprano singing more difficult and can create both small and large problems over time. Learn stress-reducing techniques that are easy and that can be used all day long and in any situation. Your high notes are precious; keep calm and sing on!
Photo by Bill in Arizona