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July 11, 2014

10 tips to overcome vocal fatigue

The end of my operatic season is night and pretty much invariably, year after year, its when I feel most tired and in dire need of my annual summer break. Singing the last few performances culminating with my Malta yearly summer concert can be a challenge – especially when I have to tackle a total of around 19 arias/songs!
Thankfully there is stuff that works for a tired physique and voice. Here is what works for me –

1. Move! Working out, swimming and even a long brisk walk will do wonders for your circulatory system. Don’t do this on the day of the performance but definitely in between.

2. Silence. If you are singing a lot than it is imperative that you keep mum during other hours and only talk if its absolutely necessary. Limit phone conversations too as much as possible.

3. Diet – 3 main meals a day are a must. Avoid foods high in lactose and sugar and go instead for protein, veg and loads of fresh fruit. Keeping your blood sugar relatively constant is important and regular, healthy meals will lessen the likelihood of acid reflux. Its also important not to eat late in the evening. I try to avoid eating after 6pm whenever possible.

4. Steam inhalations – Get a big pot or steam inhalator, throw in some bicarbonate of soda and sea salt and just inhale the healing/relieving vapours! This is really beneficial to basically all your upper respiratory tract and will dislodge mucus and other impurities from your throat.

5. Nasal irrigation – Not the nicest “procedure” but it does remove all kinds of “junk” from your nose. Make sure you always rinse with saline water and there are prepared sachets you can get from virtually any pharmacy.

6. Sleep – Its boring but a good 8 hour sleep is unbeatable to get the voice back in shape. Acid reflux sufferers will also find relief by tilting their head upwards by using two pillows to avoid nasty acid creeping up their throat during their slumber.

7. Stress – or the lack of it. Absolutely avoid stressful situations which may include noisy places/bars. Your throat tenses up automatically even if you don’t speak apart from the fact that you can “tire” your ears out. There have been some studies that our “ears” tire out too so the avoidance of high decibel places is a must!

8. Vibrator – Yep that one. Apparently tests have shown that massaging your throat with a vibrator is beneficial to the surrounding neck muscles. Apparently there are some therapists that employ such “devices” already…

9. Humidity – A constant dry environment can spell disaster for your voice and general well being. If you are in a cold climate and the heating is at full blast, chances are that the relative humidity is low. Invest in a humidifier and let them rip! We all have slightly different comfort levels. For me what works best is around 55 to 65% – just like a good cigar!

10. Arguments – Whether of a business or personal nature do walk away from these when you are singing. Even if talking is not involved the mere thought or presence of something negative will automatically tense your neck muscles and raise the incidence of acid reflux!

 

If everything of the above fails than you need a vacation! Choose a high humid climate with beautiful, clear seas at hand. Swimming in the ocean/sea is truly beneficial for the voice as long as one avoids the worse hours of the sun.

Comments

  1. You have left a rich lagacy of your expériences a very educative program for the well being of fellow musicians and the public in general! I am a fan of yours and this write proves your sincerity ! Thank you.

  2. Leslie

    Not just for singing.
    This is all so sensible for good health and being for all of us.

  3. Carmen Healey

    See you soon in sunny Malta

  4. Frans Micallef

    Keep this going Joseph especially now , before the granaries concert – so we will hear myr marvellous voice

  5. Federica Falzon

    Thankyou for sharing these useful advices with us. So looking forward and counting the hours to meet you once again. Can’t believe that my dream to sing a duet with you is becoming reality. See you soon 🙂

  6. Alfred Bonello Clottin

    Thanks much for these tips My Granddaughter she half Maltese sings as a soloist with the National Children Chores in New York I’ll will print your blog to her I’m sure she can make good use of your blog,
    I look forward each day to your blog notes. Sahha Frddie

  7. Thanks for the health tips.:) you’ll soon be back in Malta to enjoy your family and a nice relaxed well deserved vacation. God bless you Joseph.ps say hello to my cousin Fr MIke Agius when you getback. thanks.

  8. As a vocalist, I really appreciate this. Thanks for your tips.

  9. Alan Fairs

    The ‘straw’ exercises are supposed to help, according to voice therapists, but voice rest comes top of the list. All best, Joseph

  10. Do you ever get dizzy Joseph in a long performance? I wondered with you saying keep sugar levels low because I was told high energy Lucozade drinks were a good idea in a long show.
    Did you sing in a choir?
    How long does it take you to come down after a big performance? Or can you get to sleep quickly afterwards?
    I love these blog posts thank you.

    • admin

      Its not just the lack of sugar which happens sometimes due to excessive sweating but also the “resonance” by high placed singing which can give headaches and dizziness!

  11. Pamela McGrath

    What excellent advice, Joseph! Your voice reflects the superb care you take of it and your well-being. All hugely valuable, of interest. Thank you!

  12. Sandra

    Looking forward for another wonderful concert in malta. Still waiting for your opera performance in malta,

  13. Sandra camilleri

    Looking forward for Friday 18 July at malta, for our yearly concert.

  14. Sandra camilleri

    Well done

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Joseph's Blog

May 16th, 2016

Quo Vadis Eurovision and other stories

Malta did not win the Eurovision but lo and behold the sun still rose and the island (the center of the known universe) still spun…

My two cents is that Ira Losco gave a really good performance and that the whole presentation was excellent. She shouldn’t have performed cause she is pregnant? Come off it – I have performed repeatedly with pregnant opera singers well into their 7th and 8th month of pregnancy and trust me when I say that rehearsing and performing for a full opera production is much more physically demanding than a couple of days at the Eurovision. Of course there are those who know much better than the undersigned and who went on to say that the presentation was a tad “camp”…oh the irony when one considers that the Eurovision is the campest of them all.

Meanwhile, this wouldn’t be Malta and the Eurovision wouldn’t be the Eurovision unless its politicized to the exhaustible hilt. The inevitable “mud slinging competition,” which we will see a lot of in the coming 22 months, ensued and even yours truly (inexplicably) ended up in the midst of the fray, in yet another “supernova” in a tea cup. The Eurovision suddenly became an interchangeable bullet to be used ad nauseam by both sides much like bitter parents who use their innocent children during disputes.  I have always found sycophants interesting, even amusing but they will not be getting the much desired Streisand effect from me, thank you very much. It is part of human nature after all to conjure conspiracies and we are not going to let the simple truth get in the way of some exciting and convenient fiction.

Speaking of “conjuring” is it me or is a company advertising real estate using a chap “connected” with the tragic and unnecessary death of an underage girl? It must be a clone or a”doppleganger”, otherwise this would be the epitome of bad taste and a 100 shades of wrong. Don’t get me wrong I am all for “second chances” and all of that but shouldn’t there be due process first? After all Lisa Marie didn’t get a second chance did she?