A few tips for voice self-care during the Con.
A few tips for voice self-care during the Con. We’re gonna be talking a LOT, and I’ve been a professional singer for 30 years, singing in opera choruses and big choral things and doing recitals and roles. I’m also a choir director that’s worked with amateur singers for just as long. These are a few things, mostly common sense, that I recommend for folks doing a long gig (recording, or Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, or… playing a TON of games in a row!)
#1: hydrate. Like, water. Juice or herbal tea that’s not astringent is okay, but water is best. Caffeine by itself dehydrates… it’s a diuretic. Add to that the tannic acid and other astringents in “regular” tea and even decaf coffee, and well… the first step to keeping them vocal folds working is lubrication, and that means water. It’s the oil in your voices engine. Sodas and energy drinks tend to have a lot of sodium, which also dries you out.
#2: other things you already know. Take a shower! In addition to helping you be alert and FEEL like you’ve taken care of yourself, the steam and the water is good for your throat. Also, stand up when you can, take a walk when you can. Your body in a chair doesn’t support the lungs or voice the best way it can, and it’s good to remind the body of how it’s MEANT to work as often as you can. Also also, don’t just eat snacks and power bars… and even if you do, try to keep them not too salty (see sodium above).
#3: body stuff. Be aware of your posture. This has benefits beyond the vocal, if you’re going to be gaming for 12 hours (you know who you are!), but it specifically applies. Imagine a string attached to where the very center of your “bald spot” would be, if you had one, and feel it tugging upwards. This will align your throat and spine both, giving full range of motion to your vocal mechanism and reducing stress on that ol’ skeleton of yours. Also, maybe take a walk or do some jumping jacks or whatever before you jump into your game?
#4: “expert delve”. If you feel like watching the video I’ve linked, featuring Jessica Hansen, NPR’s vocal coach, the three “exercises” will be good for you. I promise! The first segment with Susan Stamberg, in particular, is something I’ve been doing with choirs for a long time.