This is the second part in a 5 part blog series covering the ins and outs of being a professional singer. You can check out Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this blog post. I’m not talking about becoming a famous singer, although that could always happen! Instead I’m going to be focusing on other avenues in your singing career rather than this being a ‘how to be a pop star” blog post.
Food & Lifestyle
Ok, firstly changing your lifestyle will take time, so don’t assume that these changes will happen over night. Give yourself at least a year to completely eliminate all the bad habits that will stop you from reaching your full potential in singing. So let’s tackle food firstly…
You might find a lot of singers are “health freaks” but there’s a fantastic reason for this. As a musician you must take care of your instrument, and yours unfortunately is inside of you. Because your vocal chords are a part of your body they are very vulnerable to damage and super delicate. Therefore, you must make sure your whole body is functioning properly for you to reach your full singing potential. Yes, that means you must try and lead a very healthy and active lifestyle. Why? Well if you want to be at the top of your game for every single performance then you need to be doing this!
Firstly, let’s assess your lifestyle right now. What do you eat on a day to day basis? Is it full of faty and salty food or stock full of vegtables and lean meats? Do you drink enough water or are you a fizzy drinks person? Are you passive in your day to day life or do you take the time to go for walks/ get public transport whenever possible?
If you are eating lots of fatty and sugary foods then not only are they unhealthy for your body but also your voice. Remember, your voice is part of your body so what you put inside of you affects the whole of you, and not just your waist line. Try to eliminate heavy fatty foods and swap them with healthier options. Example: if you really love your milk then swap if for skimmed milk or even better unsweetened almond milk. Instead of getting a take away every Friday why don’t you make your own “fake away” at home? Instead of frying your chips bake them instead. Making all these healthy changes will not only keep your body in tip top shape but you will start to feel good about yourself too.
For your voice in particular, dairy is a big no no, but not exactly off limits. You can have dairy if your heart desires, but not too much. This is because the vocal chords work by vibrating together with a thin layer of mucus lubricating them. If there is no lubrication then they wont vibrate properly (which is why it’s important to stay hydrated – preferably with water). If theres too much mucus in the way they wont be able to vibrate properly, which is the cause of a dairy overload, so make sure dairy is down to a minimum. Fatty and sugary foods also affect this, and the best way to keep the mucus in check is to drink lots of water.
So how much water should you drink? Well, if you do a little bit of research some sources will tell you to drink 2 litres exactly, some tell you to drink less than this and others tell you to keep drinking water until your urine is clear. Personally I drink 4 litres of water a day (around 7 pints) but I’ve spent about 3 years working myself up to that. Water is the best thing for your body so keep drinking it every day. Yes you will find you go to the toilet a lot at the start but you will get used to it. You can cut up some fruit and veg and pop it in a jug to give the water a different flavour. Check out my lemon and cucumber water for a bit of inspiration.
If you find your voice is always horse this might mean that you have acid reflux, which is a common diagnosis among singers. A horse voice might just mean you have bad singing technique, however reflux symptoms can include having indigestion during the day and a burning throat, really really bad breath and sore throat/ horse voice in the morning. If this happens then you need to eliminate most acidic foods from your diet, and again drink lots of water. For more info about acid reflux read this book. Saved my life literally.
Remember that your instrument is inside your body, so while all your band mates will be able to function properly at a gig right after having a huge indian take away, you won’t. One of the best things to have pre gig is a salad or something with bread like a sandwich., The more veg included the better as it’s full of water and wont make you burp!
Now lets talk about exercise. Personally I love to dance and sing at the same time. I like to shake my hips and get my knees up high and jump around like a complete loony at my gigs. When I first started my career, I found this difficult to do so i started brisk walking while talking to build up my stamina. I started jumping on the spot in my singing practices at home and now I’m quite good at sorting out a dance off without getting out of breath whenever I’m gigging. My point is, if I hadn’t of decided to train myself and my body physically, I still wouldn’t be able to do this now. It fascinates me when i see Beyonce singing and going all out with her epic dance moves at the same time. This is a skill she’s worked hard on for probably the past 20+ years (possibly way back to the Destiny’s Child days), and it looks & sounds amazing! you can tell she puts in the hard work EVERY SINGLE DAY so I cant stress enough how important it is to work out as well as eat right if you want long jeverdy in this business.
I love hearing from other singers on how they keep themselves healthy and what they do it for their art, so if you have any tips for me then let me know in the comments bellow. I hope this has helped you become a better singer/ eater. The next blog in the series will be about practicing.