Last week we spent a long time on solos, on rep and individual songs but this this week, I wanted to try something new! I asked everyone to learn, ‘She Used To Be Mine.’ from Waitress.
I was curious to know what would happen if we all took one song and worked it together, over and over, trying out as many ideas as we had time for.
After warm up, we all sung it through. I joined in, which was novel and as I spend most of my days talking about singing and not getting to actually do it! I wanted to be part of this exercise so I could really interrogate my own advice. Was this going to be beneficial?
I wondered if we’d all be able to let go of limiting self consciousness if we sung together. This was play time not 'get it perfect,' time. Would that offer a freedom to explore, learn and observe.
So we all took a separate space and went for it.
It’s a TOUGH song! There are very low notes, very quiet high notes, there’s speech quality, belt, mix, emotion, storytelling. It’s all in there and needs technical ability and muscularity, with absolute emotional and commitment and without tension!
At the end we discussed just how hard this song was, but also why it’s currently the most popular Musical Theatre song for woman.
Some people struggled with the belt section near the end, others with the quiet high notes. Some found the lowest notes a challenge. For me, I found the note ‘Mine,’ the hardest. It repeatedly sits in a place in my voice that felt unsteady, as if it wasn’t sure where to be placed.
Over the lesson we tried it in as many different ways. We used exercises to encourage ‘tilt,’ we used SOVT, we sung on open vowels, we used muscular gestures to engage support, exercises to isolate focus on a relaxed jaw, and on the tongue, on twang and on release of physical tension.
Which ones helped? Which ones didn’t?
I believe that there’s a simplicity to singing: If an exercise makes singing feel freer and easier then it’s doing you good. If it feels tense and tricky then leave it for the moment.
At the end of the lesson, we all had exercise that had helped and some that hadn’t so much and it was time to sing the song through one more time with one last rule.
'FORGET EVERYTHING EXCEPT FEELING THE MUSIC AND THE STORY'
Perhaps it was the repetition - like dancing, singing a song over and over encourages an ease of movement and muscle memory - but it certainly felt much easier to sing.
Perhaps it was pushing us out of our comfort zone? Trying techniques that we wouldn’t usually use.
Perhaps it was the freedom to sound stupid and to give over to a song in the safety of a group?
I found it helped me and I’m starting to think this is just the beginning of a way of working that I want to explore. I think that this is the way to break through our ‘shoulds’ and habits and explore the full capacity of the voice.
Breathing is so fundamental to singing that talking about it can feel almost cliched. As a singer, one of the most frequently heard words was ,'support.' Yet, I remember standing on in the wings during a performance and thinking, I have no idea how to breath. Suddenly, the thing that keeps us alive - the thing we did first as we entered this word this world - seemed alien. Did you release your tummy to make space, open your mouth, suck in? Why did my chest feel so tight and why were the muscles around my neck like rocks? I stood, sweating, before falling on stage in a state of panic and hoping blindly for the best.
Now, after years as a vocal coach, spending hours thinking and talking about breathing, I want to demystify and help us make friends with our breath. Because, really, breathing IS fundamental to singing. It's your power. It is the bow to the violin, the hammer hitting the string on a piano. Without it, singing is like playing a clarinet with no air. We need breath so make sound, and we need a steady stream of air (support from the body) to control sound and to engage musicality.
So, rather than tell you how to breathe, this week we looked at why you already know how to breath (you do it in your sleep) and we looked at all the ways that you already support your sound during your day to day life. These ways are:
- Sounds that naturally engage your breath support (certain consonants, fricatives, plosives, brr, SOVT etc)
- Primal and emotional sounds (pleading, yearning, frustration, calling out etc)
- Physical movements (lifting, pressing etc)
So, here are a few simple exercises to continue the work:
- Observing your own breathing. Sit or lie down and just watch what your body is doing naturally. If you feel tight and stressed then give it time. Observe and get used to the sensation of your stomach expanding as you breath in.
- Use sound that we've worked on, like zzzz, vvv, brrrr (lip trill) and rrrr (rolled tongue) to feel the engagement of your body. Feel how the sound connects to the stream of air that your connecting, and to your body.
- Try singing on emotive sounds that natural engage your body: yearn, plead, let out your frustration - what ever works for you. Try all the heightened feelings you know. Try to feel them and then image that you're in a room full of people and you don't want to show them how you feel, Feel how the feeling is concentrated around your stomach and use that to pour into your sound.
- Try physical gestures to support the sound: sit on a chair and try to lift yourself up, press your hands together in front of your chest. Do anything that engages you stomach.
NOTE: In all of these. please be so careful that the muscularity you create doesn't transfer to tension in your shoulders, neck, tongue or jaw.
Next week, we'll check in and see how this practise went so make a note as you go.
We're off! Thirteen singers in two weekly sessions dedicated to spending the next twelve weeks digging deep into singing, singing and more singing. I started this course with some goals (see below!)
What I knew was that, although I could create a 12 week structure, I would have to be open until I met the singers and heard what their goals were.
This Wednesdays we began our twelve week journey by setting some of those goals which arose including:
This course isn’t about quick fixes. Although we will be using all those ‘magic tricks’ in my bag (and many more that I'm currently researching), I want to start this from the beginning so we understand WHY these things work.
Thank you to all the singers for being so brave the first week.
Here's the home work to reiterate the two fundamental components of singing: creating a steady stream of air support and letting go of tension (we'll look at exercises to really meet our resonators soon!)
There's a video below, (with my 18 month old singing herself to sleep in the back ground) or you can just follow these simple exercises:
1) Creating a steady stream of air support, feeling the connection to your body.
- Do some long 'ssssh's,'
Feel where your breath connects to the body.
2) Add voice so it becomes, 'gzzz,' (see video for the sound, but you can also use zzzz or vvvv
Feel the sound connecting to your body
Feel the channel of vibrations through your body
Feel the connection of voice and sound
NOTE: Think 'or' not 'er" so your vocal tract stays nice and open.
3) Take this sound up, on scales or on a song, and retain the connection between your sound, your breath and your body.
NOTE: Observe that effort/muscularity in singing is not the same as tension.
4) Drop your jaw and let the sound become an unrestricted, 'or.'
- Loosen out your body: your wrists, your shoulders, your neck, jaw, tongue, walk around whilst keeping the continued energy of breath flow and the feeling of sound connecting to you body.
Loosing your voice is terrifying for any singer, especially in the spotlight of the world and I'm really feeling for Adele today. I went through something similar (on an incomparably smaller scale) a long time ago.
As a singer, your voice is more than your career, your passion: it is tied intrinsically with “you”, your personality, your spirit, your soul. It’s how you express yourself from the first yawn in the morning, to ordering a coffee in a noisy café, to hanging out with friends and loved ones. Laughing, even crying, isn’t possible if you’ve lost your voice. You open your mouth, you reach out to express your feelings and find, instead, this void of breathiness and air, of tightness and pain. It’s terrifying. You retreat, trapped.
I remember stepping out in front of a thousand people and not knowing if my voice could come out. I remember the physical reaction to the fear: the cold sweat, the tightening all over my body, the lump in my throat. I remember a colleague telling me to breathe but I didn’t think I knew how anymore!
For me a cycle of fear began: the fear of loosing my voice was creating mental and physical problems that were making me loose my voice. I make a choice to quit and to teach instead!
So, today, I’m feeling for Adele. I’m sure she is surrounded in people doing everything they can to help her recover but I know it’s not as simple as a plaster on a sore spot. The voice is as much mental as it is physical, as much spirit and soul as it is phycological.
As a vocal coach, I spend a lot of time listening to Adele. My pupils love her songs. She is a hero to many of them. We spend a lot of time talking about what makes her so outstanding. About why even vocal impressionists struggle to imitate her. About why I don’t let any of them sing "Rolling in the Deep," because they end up shouting, why her voice makes notes sounds so much lower than they really are.
We look at her face shape, her loose jaw, her commitment to the lyrics and emotional side of her songs, her slides and scoops that drop her larynx. Her vocal technique is a masterclass in itself.
Singing is much more athletic than many people realise. My students are surprised how far I push them to use their whole bodies, to commit entirely to the words and musicality. They say they are exhausted afterwards but they should be! Done right, singing is as all encompassing as an Olympic sport. What we’ve got to make sure is that they are the right kind of exhausted.
So, why is singing the only physical activity that “athletes”, at the top of their game, train relatively little for. I mean, "little" compared with the hours and hours that say, a diver or swimmer would do each day.
It is one of the only activities that people are seemingly “born” to do. Where, most singers see their vocal coach once in a while when they have problems, or a gig or audition, but, for the most part, are a “natural” at this thing they do.
Here, I want to say, that some parts of singing are “natural” in the sense that you are born with an “instrument”: A wonderful singer may perhaps, be born with a larynx made of cartilage of great vibrating capabilities, or optimum resonating size, optimum acoustic chambers in your nasal cavities, a strong end of your tongue so the root doesn’t get tight, a large pharynx (mouth), perhaps a loose ball and socket joint of your jaw, elastic vocal chords, a good immune system that keeps it all in good health.
Next maybe it’s a little nurture, the Welsh accent encouraging further optimum use of the said instrument: sing-song and open vowels, or the voices around you teaching good speaking habits which strengthen the right parts of your vocal system instead of creating bad habits such as a high larynx, or shouting.
But, even a person, born with the optimum vocal system, good habits, a soul and ear for music, plus the charisma to hold an arena captive, can come upon a problem and then what? Say, a small bout of laryngitis, or just one too many gigs in a row, causes sudden vocal issues? What happens then?
When all that seemed natural as a bird flying, is fragile, even for a day, a note, then what? Does the fear come creeping in? Do you start to do things to counteract the problems? Are they all the right things?
This is the dangerous time for a singer.
I got nodules when I was seventeen. I was never going to be Adele, but it looked like I had a good chance of working in the West End in some nice roles. I was considered one of the “strong singers” at my school, ArtsEd, and was getting big roles and high marks in assessments. I was also obsessed! I’d never wanted anything else. It was my one and only passion, addiction and firmly held my heart in it’s grip.
I pushed too hard and got nodules. The nodules eventually left but the scars of the subsequent years didn’t leave me until I gave up aged about twenty eight with a sigh of relief like someone had just offered me air after drowning.
The thing was, the damage was done at that stage. I saw my dreams pulling away and I gripped too tight. I had to carry a notebook, writing instead of talking as I spent days on vocal rest. I heard the pitying comments around me. I saw the unease, people pulling away as if I was catching. Or just simply finding me boring and weak. Maybe this was all in my mind. Maybe I just saw myself this way. I sat in classes desperate to get up and join in with a growing panic that I might never be able to.
I wish I’d known then what I know now as a vocal coach. That, the “lump in my throat” of emotion, was worse that singing for me, that the tightening muscles were gripping my larynx and pushing up the part of the instrument that wants to be free, to swing and vibrate, to be in a low easy position. It was making me hold back when I sung, inevitably clamping muscles in my jaw, causing more tightening and stress. I was not opening my mouth. I was holding air back when the vocals chords need a steady stream to make sound. I wasn’t breathing in at all; my stomach too tight and panicked to let my diaphragm drop.
I tried to manage it myself, and at the advice of ENT specialist. I drunk lots of water, gave up alcohol, didn’t eat spicy food or tomatoes incase they caused reflux (acid from stomach rising up to erode your vocal chords). I was on vocal rest most of the day. I warmed up excessively, obsessively, detrimentally.
When, during performing in a West End show, my voice cut out to zero from nowhere, I progressed to hiding in my room, barely having a social life, to giving up wheat, dairy, sugar and most things considered’ food”, I used a vocal steamer four times a day, then didn’t talk for twenty minutes after so the “steam could penetrate”. I ate this weird raw licorice, like a dog chewing on a stick. I could only perform if I psyched myself up via a routine of loud music with my headphones on and jumping around.
I was living the dream at the expense of my sanity.
Now, as a singing teacher, I sing for up to ten hours every day, and I haven’t ever lost my voice but that’s because, I understand the instrument and also, maybe more importantly, I wouldn’t care too much if I did.
After a singer looses their voice once, especially if that time was in front of their audience, how can they move forward? How can they care about maintaining their instrument, but not so much that it is detrimental? How can they be relaxed and let go?
I believe that singers should all understand their instruments, in the way that athletes understand their bodies. Most professional singers still find the concept of singing ambiguous, and their voices erratic. They say that they perform better on some days than others and they don’t know why. Perhaps this confusion is because it’s internal, like writing or art, or other creative persuades that come from deep within?
Yet, unlike writing, there are physical needs to your vocal system. You need to really understand which muscles need to release, and which need to work hard, what your larynx is, how it works most productively and how to stabilise it. You need to know what makes the chords vibrate and how to richen those sound vibrations with all the acoustic spaces in your body.
You also need to have help dealing with the tightening anxiety and fear that comes with having had vocal problems, recognising where it manifests in your body and how to deal with it in your mind. You need to understand everything so you instinctively know when to push through and when to stop, when to relax and have fun, or a glass of wine, or when to knuckle down.
I feel for Adele, because she is going through this journey in the spotlight and it must be hard to work from within, when your see your image portrayed everywhere staring back at you. I hope she trusts that she was born with an exceptional instrument and her fans respect that she needs to put this first and look after it so that she can continue on for a long time ahead.
Here's a riddle:
How can you sing exactly the same three times and sound completely different?
I ask my pupils this questions and usually get these answers:
"Open my throat?"
"No, you have to sing EXACTLY the same."
"No. Sing EXACTLY the same."
"No. EXACTLY the same."
"Relax my tongue?"
"SING EXACTLY THE SAME."
"But how can I sing exactly the same and sound completely different?"
I know, I know. I'm being annoying. What I'm trying to make you think about is how sound changes dependant on the space you're singing in. We've all know that singing in different spaces creates a different sound: the lovely echoey-ness of a shower room, or the way a whisper travels across the room like magic in a Cathedral or amphitheatre, or the dullness of sound in a carpeted room.
So, the answer I was looking for to my annoying question is, of course:
You can sing in different rooms.
But, now here's the point to this: Did you know that there is an acoustic room that we carry around on our shoulders? That there are spaces inside your head and throat that can completely and truly change the sound from its source (at the vocal chords) to what we hear?
The sound produced at the source isn't a nice sound. That is only the starting point: where the sound waves are made. Those waves love to bounce, to ricochet back and forth around hard curved surfaces so that they grow can in resonance and richness. Inside your head are rooms that you can use, spaces that can help the sound grow in tone. Here's a scribble I've drawn to give you an idea:
Although I draw like a nursery school child, you can see that there's a lot of space in the acoustic face playground (the squiggles are sound waves that are ready to bounce around, growing richer and fuller). I'm going to give you some exercises below to play with but you can add your own. The rules are simple. Sound likes big, curved, hard edged spaces and doesn't like small squishy ones.
Look at the drawing and you can spot some of these nice open spaces and you can play around with how to make them even bigger and more open. I'll also talk at the end about how you can direct your sound into the spaces to fill them with even more sound until they are buzzing in a way that is tangible.
Now, you'll probably sing at your best if you employ all of the techniques below: jaw relaxed, tongue root relaxed, soft palate lifted, throat open, but let's look at each of them in isolation first.
1) Dropping the jaw or The "Adele."
For more about how an over active/tense jaw is the singer's number 1 ENEMY, take a look here. But this is one simple and affective idea to instantly change your vocal tone.
- Take two imaginary golf balls and put them between your wisdom teeth. Try singing. Keep the space between your back teeth. Google a picture of Adele and copy her pouty, face! See how she always keeps her jaw relaxed as she sings (she has a lot of space in her lower face so this helps - maybe that's the key to her voice??)
Note whether your tone has changed? Is it fully, richer? Does it sound lower? Somehow warmer and easier? Do you like it? Did you know that your larynx is interconnected to your jaw by muscles so you have now released it to more freely as it wants to do?
2) The top of your mouth or the "Stevie Wonder" Wonder!
Have a look at Stevie Wonder singing. Can you see how he raised his top lip slightly, as if he's found a way to direct the sound higher into his face, using the nasal cavities and raising the roof of his mouth: the soft palate?
Instead of using your top lip, you're going to try something which gives the same result: the inner smile!
As you start to smile, you'll feel your soft palate lift. You'll feel the resonance and sound vibrations rise to the spaces around your cheeks, top teeth and the bottom of your nose as you make more space for the sound to fill. This is a particularly helpful technique to employ as you go higher in your range, especially when you meet the notes in the middle of your range.
Do you like the sound? Is singing easier doing this? Does it help you transition into your middle "register" (NOTE: not "middle voice!" You need various techniques in different parts of your range but you only have ONE voice. ONE VOICE.)
Is it too twangy? Too bright and crisp? Can you add it in when you need it?
You can also try biting on an imaginary apple, or smelling something nice as you sing. You can even employ the beginning or a yawn. For more on getting control of your soft palate, read here.
3) Battling the monster who blocks the cave's mouth ie. THE TONGUE!
The tongue is soft. It absorbs sound. It blocks the space. Did you know that, like the jaw, the root is interconnected to the larynx (voice box) so it can squash it or pull at it so it can't move freely as it needs to to sing.
As singers, we must learn to conquer the tongue and this is one easy exercise to see if it is hindering your sound.
- Stick your tongue out and sing. Easy. Keep it out as your sing a song or scales. Note whether it tries to get involved, to pull back inside your mouth or up. Don't let it. DON'T. LET. IT. Control the beast.
Does it change your sound for the better? If so, you may want to focus on some other exercises for the tongue.
3) The throat or "I can swallow a melon."
The space as the back of your throat is the first place that the sound travels through so it is imperative that it's a nice open tunnel. This is a very easy exercise to feel the space open and, as a bonus, it also helps to control the tongue, relax the jaw and lower the larynx. Hooray!
Try breathing in as if you're swallowing a melon. Feel the lovely wide opening as you breath in. Feel how the air is cold in your throat as you inhale. Now keep that space as you sing and observe whether your throat tries to push and "work" to make sound. We all feel like we want to do something active to help the sound but pushing from your throat (Or tongue. Or Jaw) is not that something. The working action should really be coming from your air flow (starting with the diaphragm and that is another topic). If you take the work load with your throat, jaw or tongue then the diaphragm gives up and goes for a cocktail.
(For more on airflow, take a look here)
Let me know how you get on with these exercises but remember, you can alter the resonating spaces all you like but this is all secondary to having MADE the sound ie. created the airflow to pass through the chords, getting them buzzing and carrying the sound on and into the spaces.
MAKE sound and then SHAPE the sound.
Now, you've opened up the spaces inside your face and throat, you can direct the sound/airflow into those spaces. For more on how to do that, please take a look at this article on FEELING rather than listening, or but, if you can feel the space buzzing then you are on the right track.
This means that the steady stream of support, the air flow through your vocal chords, is always foremost. You can't play around with sound vibrations if you haven't made them!
For more on airflow read here: straw, breathing, blowing, hoover.
Years ago, when I was teaching a lot of children, I started using the straw. I'd ask them to sing their favourite song into a bowl of bubbly water and make as many bubbles as they could. I didn't know why I was asking them to do this but they loved these little plastic goddesses and so I made up reasons like it was good for their ear and for their breath support.
When you start doing something, as the saying goes, "you have to fake it until you make it" and that's what I was doing. I had no idea. Most of my teaching was throwing ideas at a wall and watching to see if any would stick.
Thankfully, many of them did and the straw was one of them.
At the time, I still didn't know why.
The first thing I noticed was the instant improvement in the children's voices after they used the straw. I tried it. I felt like a different singer. Magic. Had I bought 100 magic wands for 99p from Sainsburys? What was happening?
Now, after further exploration as a vocal coach, I know that the straw isn't imbued with magic powers yet it's very real power to improve a singing voice is backed by science and it's not just myself who worships the little plastic sticks. They are used in speech therapy for the most severe vocal problems, they are used by singing teachers like myself and now I hear that some of the West End shows have a thing called "Bubble club".
If you're not in the bubble club, now's the time to get onboard!
For the science based why and how the straw works, read this brilliant piece on the naked vocalist website:
But, for those in a hurry, I'll attempt to simplify the mystery of why singing through a straw is a good thing to spend some time doing.
1) Without trying, it engages the breath support muscles. As you sing you'll notice your lower stomach tightening in organic and natural support. You'll notice that the stomach works harder as you sing higher. This will fix the muscle memory into your support system so it works automatically when you start to sing.
2) You will be making a sustained steady flow of air, teaching the muscle memory needed for singing. Your chords will not vibrate without a airflow. If they aren't vibrating well then you will struggle to sing. We all hold our breath at times when we're singing. You'll can hear breathing problems in in "tightness" and tone loss (often as you go higher and don't increase the support).
Try putting the straw in water.
Making bubbles = steady support visualised.
If you fix your attention on the bubbles or just continually blowing through the straw then you're teaching your body the right thing to do.
3) The tube will bounce the sound waves back into your mouth (pharynx) and offer a cushion to the vocal chords so they don't need to fight to control the force of air coming through them. Like a vocal chord cuddle. Crucial for anyone going through nodules or vocal cord injuries.
What is glorious about using a straw is that you don't need to think. Sing through the straw and all the right things will happen. Try singing afterwards and your muscles will remember. Then you'll sing better.
Try sirens (smooth slides up and down your range), try your scales, try singing the song you're working on. Observe how it feels as you do it and carry that feeling into your singing. Even if you can't do that, your muscles will remember and you'll carry it through anyway.
Also known as the lawn mowwower by my three year old son.
Before I explain what you're going to do, I want to tell you why this works:
To sing you need to have a nice steady stream of air. The air makes the chords vibrate (SOURCE), the vibrations bounce around your mouth, throat and head (RESONANCE) or, to simplify further, you MAKE the sound then SHAPE the sound.
So let's start with MAKING the sound.
1) Creating a steady stream of airflow
I have a few favourite exercises for this (the straw, the lip trill and the blower) but this is today's top choice.
These exercise are my own - some are adapted from an ENT website because I find they work really well.
1) Yawn. Feel the throat open and the soft palate lift. Let that yawn out in a soft deep throated sigh. Hmm.Feel the lovely vibrations in the base of your throat, down your chest and into your sternum.
2) Now, around that lovely low note, make a strong sustained sssh sound with the vowel OR vocalised in your mouth (Say or then close your mouth in a ssh and continue the sound)
Feel the vibrations. Let them fill the resonating cavities around your eyes and cheeks, let them flood through your mouth and throat, down your chest and into your sternum. Make your self a vessel for sound and enjoy. Do this for as long as your like. It will be engaging your breathing muscles without you having to think about them (feel your stomach tighten as your make the noise). It will remind the muscles of the job they're about to do.
Look at your neck, it will be widening and relaxing as the muscles release despite the flow of sound.
Focus on your pharynx or mouth. The closure at the front will allow the sound waves to bounce back and support the chords so let are not straining to control the gush of air from the lungs.
Let your cheeks relax, maybe puffing out slightly
Let your jaw relax as if there is a nice open gap between your wisdom teeth.
Let your tongue hang. That beast can get tight and now is the time to let it loose.
Keep going until you literally feel warm: warm and buzzy, loose and ready.
Go as low as you comfortably can to let the larynx drop and relax. Watch it lower in a mirror.
After this you can take the same sound up and down, sliding smoothly making sure to keep the air flowing (you should always be able to hear a steady ssssh with this sound). Try to feel the vibrations everywhere as you move, keeping the chest resonance as you go high and the cheek bone resonance as your go low.
When I do this exercise, I feel a little like how I imagine a monk might feel. I could feel a little silly, making noises like my three year old son behind a "yawn mowmower" but just give in and enjoy the feeling of being a vessel for sound. Letting your instrument play through you. I promise it works.
One of the things I found most frustrating about being a singer was the inconsistencies day to day. Why, some days, was it so easy, yet other days my my voice felt like an unwieldy beast, pushing through a swamp to make a sound?
I used to worry that those days might be a sign of vocal harm and then came the downward spiral: afraid to push the voice, I'd hold back, tighten, stop breathing, panic!
When you have an off day, it's important to understand whether it's a sign of vocal misuse or just.... an off day!
Like everything else in life, some days the voice tries to hibernate. We've all had days when our brain feels slower, when our limbs feel like rock and doing exercise feels like some kind of torture. Sometimes it's plain tiredness, sometimes it's to do with emotions or, for women, that time of the month (yes, it affects the vocal chords t00. The water retention caused the chords to thicken making high notes harder. Here's an article why http://www.totalsingersupport.com/singing-your-best-at-that-time-of-the-month/)
Assuming that you have ruled out any vocal problems (ie. if your voice was fine yesterday, but today it seems muzzy/stuck/tight) then what can you do?
We embrace that, in life, we all ebb and flow, we have good days and bad. If this is your career then you need to manage that. You all know to get your sleep and eat healthily and drink your water. What I want to talk about is how, on those days when it's just not really happening, where you're under the weather or just "under", what can you do?
Have you ever felt rubbish - flat, tired, foggy - and then something has happened that woke you up, that shook the fog away? Let's look at some of those things so you can use them on a day when you need it!
1) Running! Yes, might be the last thing you want to do but exercise WILL wake you up. As a singer, I always hoped that they'd be a dance call first because (even though I have two left feet) it would wake me up and make me sing better. It works. Your heart starts pumping blood to your muscles, happy hormones flood and you're ready to go.
2) Music. Loud. On the way to rehearsals, I always listen to music. During Aspects of Love, I had two albums that would get me ready: Too Many Dj's and Hairspray the Musical. If it gets you buzzing then don't be ashamed. Find whatever works for you.
3) Coffee. Uh oh. Am I recommending caffein for singers? I love coffee. It does dehydrate so match with lots and lots of water but sometimes a big coffee is what is needed.
4) Walk. If you're too tired for exercise, get off the tube early and walk to where ever you need to be to sing. Put your headphones in and walk with music.
5) Meditate. My favourite. Something there is too much weight from the day to day stresses. Sit. Observe your breathing. Feel what you're feeling. Count down from 100 and go back to the beginning if you lose count. Let your breath relax and your mind calm. (walking with music is mediation too - anything that still a chattering brain)
6) Chat to someone who makes you excited. You know, that friend who gets your buzzing. Call someone and get out of your own head.
After that, be kind to yourself. Life isn't constant, it ebbs and flows, joy passes and sadness too. If you're down then you'll be up again so give yourself a break if today isn't your best day and do the best you can do for today.