Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dry Throat When Singing On Stage

Whenever I'm singing with family members or with friends or even with the church choir my voice is fine and flawless, but when it comes to singing for large groups of people my voice gets pitchy. I figured its just because I'm nervous so I tell myself to calm down and be confident before I sing on stage. Well yesterday I had to sing at my friend's father's funeral. I was more annoyed than nervous because I was the last one to sing on the program, but when I got up on stage I was confident and not one nerve in my body was against me. When I started singing it was fine but as soon as I got to the chorus my voice became very dry. It sounded terrible and everyone noticed, I tried to fix the problem by just singing with more emphasis but it didn't work for most of the song. I don't know what happened, I drank a little water before I was called up and my throat was cleared. Point is, I would like to fix that problem because all my friends were there I don't think I ever want to sing again after that episode. Can you help me please?

Joanna Lott, M.A., CCC-SLP replies...

This is not uncommon. Many singers struggle more when singing solo in front of an audience. Sometimes it is nerves, but other times it is the result of the environment. If you have been practicing at home or with your voice teacher, you can count on your voice behaving a certain way in those environments. But when you get to the performance space there are many factors that are not within your control -- such as dry air, dust, and fragrances (like flowers at a funeral home), not to mention the acoustics of the room. If the room had poor acoustics, you may have felt the need to push or strain to get the sound you wanted. This may have led to a feeling of dryness in the throat. Or it could be that the room was dry and dusty and you needed more water than usual to combat the dry air. Try to notice the environment as soon as you get to your performance space. Is it dry? Do you need to drink more water? How are the acoustics? And pay attention to how you feel while you are singing, more than to how you sound. In general, the best way to manage all of these unpredictable problems is to have as many tools in your "vocal tool box" as possible. That way, when you get into trouble you will know what to do. This means studying with a voice teacher trained in the anatomy and physiology of the vocal mechanism who can trouble shoot these issues with you. I hope you won't give up on singing. Best of luck!

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