By: Sheila Chandra
Voices are fragile things. And unless you’ve had singing lessons from a really good teacher, you’re unlikely to know all the tips and tricks you need to, in order to keep yours healthy.
Here they are:
1. Don’t over-talk. Avoid doing interviews on the day of a recording session or gig. Avoid noisy cafes and pubs, or limit your time in them. Singing is an athletic use of your voice box. Don’t put it under more strain than you need to.
2. Don’t get dry. Stay hydrated, especially on planes (which are drier than the Sahara desert…). If you’re traveling by plane to a gig, when you arrive, fill the bath in the hotel room with hot water, leave the door open to hydrate the air, and drink as much as you can. Your pee should be the colour of pale straw. If at all possible, buy a steamer and steam as much as you can.
3. Don’t get cold. Cover your neck with a scarf even on a spring day. Do not allow yourself to get chilled (not easy at some festivals!) Also make sure that your room stays warm overnight. Turn off the air conditioning. You can use as many blankets as you like but if your nose, throat and lungs have been breathing cold air, you’ll still have handicapped your voice for the next day.
4. Be careful with cold medicines. We’ve all had to do a gig with a cold. Take it easy and don’t push your voice or over rehearse beforehand. Don’t take aspirin (which thins the blood) if you’re coughing. If you burst a blood vessel in your vocal cords, your thinner blood will make the bleed into them much worse. Similarly you need your vocal mechanism to be coated in thin clear mucus – so don’t take decongestants and try to sing.
5. Don’t breathe smoke. You may not smoke yourself but stay away from smokers and from campfires. They’ll kill your voice.
Sheila Chandra Biography:
“ Chandra is one of the most distinctive, imaginative and unbelievable vocalists you’ll ever hear. ”
Sheila Chandra made some of the most beautiful and innovative recordings in the World Music category − beginning with her band Monsoon’s 1982, ground-breaking Asian Fusion, Top Ten hit around the world, ‘Ever So Lonely’ − until voice problems forced her to retire in 2010.
Since then, in an unlikely twist, she’s gone on to become a best-selling author with Banish Clutter Forever (2010) outlining her own system for home organizing, which she says makes it possible to “pretty much, never tidy up again”.
“ I’ve read other books on clutter but nothing really seems to work. Sheila Chandra’s system is so simple and effective it even worked on an inveterate hoarder like me. Absolutely brilliant. ”
She also began mentoring the (then homeless) street artist Stik in 2008, writing a version of Organizing for Creative People just for him. Stik has gone on to become one of the most famous and collectible street artists in the world. This is an expanded version of her artist advice to him on how to build a strong foundation for his career.