We vocalists are living in unprecedented times. Our live gigs aren’t happening; our recording sessions are postponed; we’re (wisely) keeping to ourselves and hunkering down in our home studios, doing any remote work we can. So, how can we keep safe and sane?
Firstly, if you’re (relatively) healthy, count all the blessings. You can make choices with a clear head and empty plate. Start with gratitude. Here are my top 7 strategies:
1 Keep a Schedule
It’s of the utmost importance now to make sure your days and evenings have a semblance of regularity. You’ll want to make a list of things you’d like to complete to every day. I suggest that first…you make your bed. I know this sounds like it has nothing to do with singing but I assure you it has everything to do with it. It shows you that you can do something; if you eat all the donuts or binge-watch Breaking Bad (I have no idea what you’re talking about, Jaime…)…if nothing else, you know your bed is made.
2 Learn New Musical Tricks
Have you been wanting to up your piano or guitar game? If your sight singing chops leave a lot to be desired, how about that online singing course (AHEM)? Now is the perfect time to schedule in these types of life enhancing experiences. Keeping your skill sets in a state of expansion is great to do when you’re not asked to stay home!
It’s not just for existing anymore! When better to start to practice relaxing breathing techniques than right the heck now? I highly recommend the 4-7-8 breath technique: inhale through the nose for 4, hold breath for 7, exhale through mouth (or nose, that’s fine) for 8. It’s great for falling asleep or for meditation. Speaking of meditation…
…is an excellent tool/pastime for every human, and it’s been proven! 20 minutes in the morning (and ideally also in the evening) can really do a body good. What’s more, you practice allowing your thoughts to flow by without letting them stick, which, during stressful times, is exactly what you want. And chocolate. You really want chocolate. Make sure you have it in the house. Get a delivery. Mail me some..
5 Work with Your Body
Keep moving, walking, running, dancing, yoga – anything you’ve been doing to get your blood pumping is fantastic. Notice I said, “….you’ve been doing.” Now is not the time to begin a weightlifting routine, or anything too difficult or challenging. In the words of my dear masseuse friend, “You don’t want any structural or muscular problems right now, because none of us are around…!!!”
6 Start a News Diet
Keep your news watching to a minimum. For many of us, even glancing at Facebook can rile us up. Know the facts, get them from a reputable, intelligent source and do your best to keep to the ‘one day at a time’ mandate. I make a practice of not watching before bedtime. Or before/during a meal.
7 Think Creatively about Money
Think about finding new ways to make money remotely. Do you teach? Switch your practice over to Zoom; it’s my favorite when it comes to clear picture, great sound and least amount of freezing/latency. Can you write? Look on Indeed for remote writing jobs. Set up for voiceovers? Start auditioning; hey, you’ve gotta be in it to win it. Check Backstage Magazine; they’re running specials to join and are posting loads of voiceover auditions. If you have a home setup, get your reel together if you don’t have one. If you have a laptop and a decent USB mic but don’t know how, see if any of your recording engineer friends can talk you through on Zoom. Do you gig a lot? Check out all your social media platforms: Instagram Live, Facebook Live, YouTube Live. You can post links to PayPal and Venmo, and donate a portion (or all) of your proceeds to helping various efforts. Keep your shows short and fun: sing, tell stories, do Q&A sessions, take requests…think outside the box here. People are craving connection and that, my dear friends, is what we’re here for.
Understand This “Brave” New World
We’re living in a new world, guys. Let me rephrase that: I’m going to call it a brave new world. Brave, because that’s who we’re choosing to be right now. I’m here in my home, writing this; you’re there in yours, reading it. We’re brave. And together, even in our isolation.
In the moving words a yet unknown writer:
“When you go out and see the empty streets, the empty stadiums, the empty train platforms, don’t say to yourself, ‘It looks like the end of the world.’ What you’re seeing is love in action. What you’re seeing, in that negative space, is how much we do care for each other, for our grandparents, for our immuno-compromised brothers and sisters, for people we will never meet.
People will lose jobs over this. Some will lose their businesses. And some will lose their lives. All the more reason to take a moment, when you’re out on your walk, or on your way to the store, or just watching the news, to look into the emptiness and marvel at all of that love.
Let it fill you and sustain you.
It isn’t the end of the world. It is the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness.”
Jaime was a Musical Director, coaching voice and performance for Disney and wrote “Working With Your Voice: The Career Guide to Becoming a Professional Singer” (Alfred Publishing). As a session singer, she ‘jingled’ for Coke, Pillsbury, Folgers, Chevrolet, and hundreds more. She’s sung on thousands of live gigs (covers and original music) and toured for years with Leon Russell and Sam Moore. Jaime sang BGVs live and digitally with George Strait, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Webb, Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus, Johnny Mathis, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Willie Nelson and others. She performed off-Broadway in “Search: Paul Clayton”, toured nationally with “Old Jews Telling Jokes” and presently coaches students in voice, performance, beginner guitar/piano, studio singing, songwriting and auditioning in NY, CT, LA, Nashville and virtually. For bookings: www.workingwithyourvoice.com