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Judy Rodman ~ Vocal Survival Tips

Judy Rodman

Judy Rodman

Hi. I am Judy Rodman, a vocal coach and recording producer. I am currently writing, performing and recording a new full band project with my husband as Judy Rodman and 6Play. We are doing original music to fit the baby boomer Americana audience, focusing on master level musicianship, vocals and songwriting as fits my 40 year history in music.

Live touring, being on the road as a performing artist or background singer, is a heady but potentially treacherous activity. Some of the biggest artists in the world are falling like flies to avoidable vocal strain and damage.

Think about it: If you are successful, you’ll be singing (usually) live, loud, untuned and sometimes physically tired on consecutive days of shows. Here are some tips I share with my touring clients to keep up vocal stamina and protect against tour-ending vocal damage:

1- Bring food with you when you travel. You can’t always depend on what’s available backstage. Stock the bus fridge with nutritious offerings or bring a well-stocked cooler. Salads, crudités, fruit, protein bars, hummus and chips, protein powder and a juicer/blender if possible.

2- Stock up on supplements. Ask a doctor about B-12 shots. Pack your favorite remedies against the dreaded cold, flu or abdominal bugs. If you have it, pack a copy of the bonus report “Vocal Health” that you get from singing up to my newsletter.

3- Bring extra water and stock some cans of pineapple juice for when you need instant help with mucous membranes. Some people benefit from products like Throat Saver. Steer clear of black tea and alcohol. The temporary buzz is not worth the risk.

Judy Rodman performing4- Steam your throat with showers or hot baths as you get ready for your gigs, and also when you get into your hotel room from the dry-air vehicle or drive or flight.

5- Get quality sleep. For your voice, sleep is as important as food and water. On the road, you have to plan ahead to get good zz’s in. You nap shallowly on wheels or wings, you get to your hotel room in the middle of the night, you have to hurry to soundcheck. Talk this out with your road manager before you leave and schedule enough time to sleep. If the road messes with your circadian rhythm and it’s hard to drift off, learn to re-set your clock. Ask your doctor about using a sleep aid like melatonin, Sleepytime Tea or whatever healthy thing works for you.

6- Exercise. Look for a gym in your hotel, jog or bicycle around the venue, bring DVDs, bands and ropes, small weights. Memorize workouts you can do even in the back of the bus. Even just 15 – 30 minutes of physical activity on gig days can warm and limber you up for performance and keep your core toned for singing. Consider bringing workout DVDs and any physical workout (bands, ropes, etc.) you can do in your hotel room or on a bus. If you have the funds, consider a personal trainer on the road or have one design a good road routine for you. Do not over-do, do not grunt and be very careful with your neck and shoulders.

7- Do your vocal warm up. This is non-negotiable. Why would you head for a vocal Olympic event without warming up your instrument?  If you have multiple shows, warm up again between performances. Especially for longer gigs, take 10 minutes to warm down after your gig to keep vocal cord swelling down for the next day.

Judy Rodman - Show from behind8- Be careful talking. This is sometimes the most vocally exhausting thing you do. Learn to pull instead of push your speaking voice like you do your singing voice. Try to schedule interviews for after your shows instead of before, if at all possible. Smile a lot and shake hands when signing autographs. Limit your word count.

9- Soundcheck – Get your monitor mix right. Make sure you have enough vocal level so you don’t have to push those strong notes during performance. If you use in-ear monitors, use both ears, or loosen both ears if you want to hear some of the venue. Sensaphonics now offers in-ears for which you can dial in ambient sound.

10- Center yourself. 10 minutes before your gig, find a quiet corner and don’t interact with anyone. Like a pro athlete, let distractions fade and center yourself in the moment. Think about the first phrase you’ll sing. Mentally send your presence out to occupy every corner of the venue.

11- Assess after the show. As you warm down, take a quick inventory. How does your voice feel? It should feel better than when you began the show. If not, try to figure out why. Write it down in a dedicated voice journal. Discuss this at your next vocal lesson.

12- Don’t worry, be happy! These can be some of the best days and memories of your life. Make a habit of taking care of your most important instrument – and have a blast!

Judy Rodman - End of ConcertPower, Path and Performance vocal training has been used for decades of success on all kinds of stages. Need a pre-show warmup with me? I’m available by phone or Skype and I’ll try my best to fit you in.

Judy Rodman
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Judy Rodman is an award winning vocal coach, recording artist, stage and television performer, multi-genre hit songwriter and studio producer. She has had hit records as artist, producer and songwriter, including decades of hits as session singer. As MTM Records recording artist she won ACM New Female Vocalist award, #1 and other top10 singles. She received BMI Millionaire award for co-writing “One Way Ticket (Because I Can)”. She was voted Best Vocal Coach 2011 by NashvilleMusicPros.com. She is lead singer and songwriter for new Americana band Judy Rodman and 6Play. She is an active member of AFTRA, SAG and AFofM.