It has been inauspicious start to the summer season. We were thinking it would be all beach weather and barbecue but English Summer weather, true to form, has thrown us for a loop again. So while we’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about how the heat can effect your voice, perhaps its time for us to talk about how storms can change your tone?
The first point is perhaps the most obvious. When it rains, there’s more moisture in the air we breathe. This means there’s a little less oxygen coming into our system and can cause us to breath a bit heavier. To most, this wont be apparent but we’re highly tuned musical masters and we pick up these subtleties.
Taking slow steady breaths makes sure you have that all important breath support and supply to get you through the trickiest of songs. Practising a song a few times to get a feel for where you will need to stop, while it should be commonplace, is also a great way to prepare for a show in the wet weather.
But a little excess moisture isn’t the only concern bad weather brings. We’re getting a little more scientific here, but shortly before a stormfront arrives, the pressure in an area drops dramatically. This is why some people can tell when bad weather is coming by the pains that in various joints. This is caused when low pressure from the air allows inflammation to flair up a little more. However, this inflammation isn’t limited to just dodgy knees. If you are recovering from a vocal injury, either from excessive practice or poor technique, you might find your voice becomes less responsive as the tissue in your throat expands. Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can help offset that though remember many over-the-counter medications come with drawbacks as well as benefits.
And if that wasn’t enough, because of the change in air pressure, the way your voice moves through the air can be altered, causing pitch problems. We get used to a certain amount of pressure, though with that low pressure front before a storm, the air takes on different qualities. As the air gets thinner, we have to push our voices harder to get the same result, which can cause injuries if one is unprepared.
It’s important to be listening as well as singing, to make sure you’re doing what you should. Some might find that in-ear monitors help them respond better by giving a clear channel of audio feedback, however this can be expensive and for a choral singer, it’s not particularly practical for a group of thirty people.
The danger with talking about these kind of problems is it makes them seem dramatic. Stormy weather is more subtle on the voice but it does present issues. Unlike heat, rainy weather isn’t something you can work around. Most of the advice we can give about singing during stormy seasons is practice well and pay attention to your voice.