The Art of Multitasking

By Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, member of the vocal quartet Anonymous 4; soloist specializing in both early and new music; private voice teacher.

As someone who wears many hats; performer, teacher, student I know only too well the challenges today’s singer has to face.
When Anonymous 4 was a full time ensemble I had the luxury of having one thing to focus on, but now it is just one of the many things I do! I, and indeed most of us, have to juggle the demands of running from job to job while trying to fit in a voice lesson here and there. And the jobs themselves demand multitasking; you might be singing in your church choir one minute, then running to a solo rehearsal for an opera production the next. Not only do we have to wear many different hats, it sometimes feels like we have to wear many different voices also.
How to keep our sanity, not to mention our vocal health?
Learning how to listen to what our voices are telling us is a good start. If you have three back-to-back rehearsals in one day, especially if they involve singing different kinds of music or a mix of solo and ensemble work, it should not surprise you if your voice feels tired by the end of it. Learn to say no occasionally. Mark in rehearsals whenever possible. Keep drinking water- but remember, it takes a couple of hours for water to hydrate the body and the vocal folds so start drinking before the rehearsals- once you feel dry it’s too late!
Make sure you do gentle relaxation exercises: humming while letting the tongue rest on the lower lip is useful to release jaw and tongue tension and to allow the larynx to relax. Laryngeal massage is also helpful if your throat is feeling tight; gently massage the larynx in a circular downwards motion; this helps release the extrinsic laryngeal muscles and again allows the larynx to relax if it has become elevated, a common occurrence when over-singing or singing too much.
And remember to come back to your support. When we are singing a lot we sometimes forget to breathe properly. We lose our abdominal support and start to “shallow breathe”, putting all the pressure on the muscles around the throat to support our sound. That’s when hoarseness can appear.
The bottom line is to be aware of how your voice feels, how your body feels and try to anticipate any potential problems before they appear so you can look forward to those rehearsals and actually enjoy them!

Auditions Plus

Auditions Plus is a resource for all types and levels of singers and voice teachers. Search 1000’s of auditions and competition listings, Young Artist Programs, Summer Programs, and Singer or Teacher Profiles.   Auditions Plus will use a variety of authors and contributors from the singing and business world to give a variety of voices to important, pertinent, and timely issues facing singers.