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.
Rachel Lynes -vocal coach
These articles aim to simplify and clarify. My aim is to give you clear exercises that make a big difference.