Picture in your mind's eye an Olympic athlete toeing the starting mark or mounting the diving platform. He or she is poised, ready to meld body, heart, and soul in a splendid outpouring of energy that inspires and uplifts all within its radius. As a singer or public speaker, there is much in common with this athlete. Time has been spent mastering the material and gearing mentally to perform.
Sadly, that's where the analogy ends for many vocalists. Such performance places the body in a situation in which it is expected to respond to tremendous amounts of effort and energy - a workout. Few realize that the physical demands required to sing or speak effectively can be just as rigorous as those posed by strenuous athletic endeavors. Even fewer have devoted much study to the physiological side of singing: how the different parts of the body cooperate to produce a strong, acceptable sound for a particular style of music, and what outside influences can help - or hinder their performance. All too often, the inspiration that fuels a sparkling performance also causes the uninformed vocalist to push his or her body's vocal equipment to the limit and beyond.
The results? Vocal fatigue, strain, and a high risk of serious vocal injury. Staying "in shape" vocally and physically is a NECESSITY! The record-breaking achievements of today's top athletes are largely the results of sophisticated, comprehensive training programs. Most work hand-in-hand with a team of coaches who have been trained in the physiology of the human body and are armed with a dazzling array of modern technological aids. Computerized video analysis, for example, allows each coach and athlete to review and evaluate each performance in the smallest of detail, from overall form to the specific degree of torque or stress on an individual joint or muscle group. They are especially alert for signs of fatigue or improper technique that increase the risk of injury and certainly are quick to take preventative measures.
Nutrition plays a key role, too. Considerable research has been devoted to fueling the body effectively: which foods facilitate peak athletic performance and promote the strength and endurance that minimize the risk of strain-related injury.
Not surprisingly, research confirms that physical conditioning and nutrition are the most important elements of the vocal picture. How about YOU? Have you given much thought to the physical side of vocal performance? Many of the most common causes of vocal fatigue and strain-related injury are also the most easily avoidable. Take the time to learn from a vocal coach or trainer to care for your voice.