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Topic: Losing your voice & performances
Message: Posted by: magicalnick (Mar 7, 2015 04:40PM)
Hi all,

I finally managed to come down with something where I am fine talking normally but if I attempt to do a show I start to lose my voice and it gets very sore. I just had a show today and I felt so bad because I know it wasn't my best performance. The mother said it was great but I could tell I wasn't up to my energy level and my timing was off the whole show. The more I tried to bring the show back to my normal level the worst my voice got. My voice has been this way for about a week now but it seems much worse. I don't appear sick in any other way so I was wondering if anyone has any secret remedies or some advice on what I could take. I have a show tomorrow afternoon and the rest of the month is crazy busy!

Has this happened to anyone else and do you feel the need to apologize or tell the client after the show that you are under the weather? I always want to give my 100% and just knowing I gave about 70% bothers me... Oh how fun it is to be an entertainer ;)
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 7, 2015 05:02PM)
I am going through the same at the moment. Today's show was difficult. In my case I know the reason; a combination of hay fever and asthma, and I know in three or four days I will have my energy and voice back.

Meanwhile, lots of liquid, gargle with aspirin and salt in warm water, rest the voice when not performing, speak more slowly, and perhaps amplify. Best of luck riding it out.
Message: Posted by: danfreed (Mar 7, 2015 05:08PM)
That happens to me a few times a year right after I get a sick with a cough. It really throws me off. Honey works best for me but doesn't last long, so I thougt about bringing honey sticks next time and just contantly drink honey during the gig.
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Mar 7, 2015 05:56PM)
Two things: (1) Voice warm-up exercises while you're driving to each show. And (2) Ricola.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 7, 2015 06:16PM)
[quote]On Mar 7, 2015, arthur stead wrote:
Two things: (1) Voice warm-up exercises while you're driving to each show. And (2) Ricola. [/quote]
Good point about the warm-up exercises. But they should be done before every gig, not just the ones where the voice is off!
Message: Posted by: Bluesman (Mar 7, 2015 06:54PM)
My voice also went out on me on my first set of the day a few weeks ago. It was hard for me for my other sets.


Emmett
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Mar 7, 2015 07:27PM)
Tony is correct. Voice warm-up exercises, done regularly, a few days prior to upcoming shows, and also right before each and every gig. It's made a world of difference to my vocal endurance. You might feel silly doing the exercises, but it is truly worth it.
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Mar 7, 2015 07:59PM)
I had a bad time of this last year. It forced me to write a full one-hour childrenís show with no talking what-so-ever. I never thought it would work, but not only was it a huge success, it commanded the room and bought a charm to the show it had never had before. Subsequently, every show I have done this year has been this silent show.

I donít know what routines you do, or your skill level. So I wont pretend everyone can do this. I have strong manipulation magic which helps me establish myself quickly. The hardest part was losing all my ventriloquist puppet routines. I also find the show lasts 50 minutes at best, rather than the 60 minutes my patter show use to get me. Losing those ten minutes is a serious problem as all my competitors are offering one-hour shows, I would rank below them in potentials clients comparisons as they value time.

But it can be done, and I have no intension of every going back to my old patter show, ever. That's how well it has been received.

If writing a new show is not an option, I have a few suggestions.

1. Vocal Zone (http://www.vocalzone.com)
These are a special pastille that restore the voice. Lockets, Tunes and Halls Losangers will do at a pinch, but Vocal Zone are made for the job. Most chemists sell them, along with similar products.

2. Get a Humidifier.
I have it on each night. It adds moisture to the air which makes breathing easier at night and less of a strain on the throat.

3. Lemon and Ginger Tea.
Its effectiveness varies from person to person. But if you like the taste, try it.

4. Eats Tikas, Curry's and Korma's.
They have natural ingredients in which help the throat.

5. Have a breakfast
Stomach acid rides up the throat and can affect certain systems. Make sure you have something to eat so that the acid can work on that instead.

6. Suck lollipops, or hard boiled sweets, or chew gum.
These things produce sylvia which helps lubricate the throat. At a pinch, you can gently bite down on your cheek (the inside wall of the mouth) and it will create sylvia also.

7. Drink lots of water.
I hate the taste of water and drink soda instead. Which admittedly has become a problem. I wake up several times during the night thirsty and go through about 500ml during the night. I use to think my obsession of having a drink available constantly was some kind of OCD problem. But I have recently learnt this is a common thing and there are people who have it even worst than me. But keeping lubricated and hydrated has to be a good thing - doesn't it?

8. Get fresh air
Open the windows and get fresh air in the house whenever you can. Sometimes going for walk around the park wakes up the body and throat to get it working better. Also, sunlight helps boost the immune system.

9. Go swimming
The exercise is good for you, but the chlorine in the water will also help fight off anything and getting the blood pumping will speed up the recovery process.

10. Donít ever whisper, ever.
Whispering actually requires more throat muscles than talking and will put extra strain on your voice. Never whisper.

11. Talk from the diaphragm.
Ive given up on this one. But singers swear by it. There's probably a dozen websites explaining it better than I can summarise here.

12. Hot drinks.
Tea and coffee do me wonders but I know other people have reported the opposite. I found hot chocolate drinks, Horlicks and Ovaltine a godsend. Buy the individual drink sachets from the supermarket and give each one a try. When you find the flavours and drinks you like, stock up!

13. Limit shouting
We work with children and often it can become a shouting match. Donít let it happen and if your doing tricks which encourage shouting, get rid off them.

14. Use the lower vocal register
If you do vent, you may be using higher pitched voices that are more of a strain on the throat. Try using a voice in the lower register instead as its less straining. It may mean changing your puppet to match it though.

15. Use a microphone, at every single show.
Even a house party for five children should have a microphone. It helps you, makes you look professional and solves numerous other problems as you voice is always louder than the room of children. I use an EZPA Portable PA (http://stage-gear.co.uk/adastra-ezpa-lite-portable-pa-system-discontinued.html?utm_source=google_shopping&gclid=CNmq5JPTl8QCFUiWtAodUD4AJw)
Or a waist belt amp (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pyle-Pro-PWMA50B-Waist-Band-PA-Amplifier/dp/B005I2YJPM)

16. Use mouth wash
Brush your teeth twice a day and use mouth wash. It has a way of fixing things.

17. Warm-up exercises
Ill be honest in saying that they did very little for me. When I lost my voice it was usually due to a virus or doing 30 shows in one week at Christmas. But doing some in the car on the way to the gig cant hurt.

18. Always have a drink to the side during the show.
When I talked, I would go through at least one full can during the show. Sometimes two depending on the weather and how high the heating was. But don't be afraid of drinking during the performance. It may not be the best looking image you can portray, but at least the audinece will be able to hear you - for that show and the shows you have for the rest of the week.


Try and identify the reason for the problem. I was doing over 200+ shows a year. So I raised my price hoping it would mean less shows, and therefore less strain. But the new silent show means I actually got more shows than I wanted! But at least my voice is okay now. It my bad back I have to work on next!
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Mar 7, 2015 11:16PM)
Often (unless it's due to illness) vocal problems can result from over-using your voice. Having to speak too loudly to be heard. So a simple solution to that is: Get a sound system and a microphone! It will allow you to speak at a comfortable level without having to shout to be heard.
Message: Posted by: Bluesman (Mar 8, 2015 03:25AM)
[quote]On Mar 8, 2015, arthur stead wrote:
Often (unless it's due to illness) vocal problems can result from over-using your voice. Having to speak too loudly to be heard. So a simple solution to that is: Get a sound system and a microphone! It will allow you to speak at a comfortable level without having to shout to be heard. [/quote]


This is what I'm looking into now. I wasn't able to use my sound system that day because the gig was beside a lake. I had no outlet for my PA. So yes, I had to speak loudly for the people that were 30' away from me. Still looking for a good sound system you don't need to plug in.

Emmett
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Mar 8, 2015 05:50AM)
There are two battery powered portable PA systems mentioned in my post.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 8, 2015 07:49AM)
Stephen, well done on pulling off a fully silent show. I know you spoke about it here last year. I am delighted it was a success for you. I have seen you perform and you were a good patter magician, so that must have been a severe culture shock! It is it not asking too much, I am sure many of us would love to see a clip and hear some of your thinking about how you pulled it off. I imagine it would be fascinating.
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Mar 8, 2015 12:47PM)
I second that, Tony. Would love to see/know more about your silent act, Stephen.
Message: Posted by: magicalnick (Mar 8, 2015 03:32PM)
Thanks for the great tips everyone. I was prepared today and the show went great. I started taking honey cough drops last night, brought my sound system and kept up on my water intake and all went well.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 8, 2015 06:37PM)
Great, Nick.
Message: Posted by: The Great Zucchini (Mar 9, 2015 08:49AM)
It's only happened to me a couple of times, and when it does, I call the host over, and whisper her, to make an announcement for me, that my voice is gone, and that I will do the rest of the show in mime. It went very well, as I use lots of slapstick in my show, etc. I rarely use a microphone, and have been lucky, that my voice never goes. It's only ever happened twice.
Message: Posted by: socalmagic (Mar 9, 2015 10:55AM)
Lots of great advice. I would add that I like to drink Throat Coat with honey. It's a tea with slippery elm and other ingredients that help increase lubrication in your throat. In addition, avoid caffeine as it will dry out your throat. Finally, avoid lozenges with menthol because they also will dry out the throat. I use Vocal Zone (mentioned above), or Luden's cough drops. If my voice is really bad, then I will have a cough drop in my cheek to constantly lubricate my throat throughout the show.
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 9, 2015 12:22PM)
Back "in the day", I actually got some slippery elm twigs and used them.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Mar 9, 2015 11:41PM)
I use Brian's Happie Amp. I have two of them. They are great portable battery powered sound systems.