Singers and voice students are scared. Scared of the impending doom on their singing voice after this long Covid-19 #stayathome period with no vocal warmup whatsoever, since schools, studios, and music conservatories have shut down.
If you have been living under a rock, there is this new virus in town that is shaking the whole world to its core. To curb the spread of the highly communicable virus, people have been asked to stay at home and establishments have been closed for the time being.
Unless you live in an environment where the next building is a town away, where you have a lot of space to yourself to warm your vocal cord and scream those high notes to clear the voice when ever you want, you can relate with Obianom Chiemerie Emmanuel, a Voice major (Baritone) at MUSON school of music, who has been finding it difficult to continue his daily vocal warm ups at home.
We all know that the very minute you want to warm up or rehearse a song, that is when a neighbor’s child wants to sleep and needs some quiet time. Not everyone has the luxury of space and understanding family members who will allow you practice and make your beautiful noise in peace.
Perturbed by this, Emmanuel called upon one of the voice teachers of MUSON, Mr. Joseph Oparamanuike, to ask the question on the title of this article.
Mr. Joseph Oparamanuike (MMus, PGDip, B.Eng, LRSM, DipABRSM) is a Voice Teacher and Opera Director at MUSON (Musical society of Nigeria) School of Music. Mr. J O, or Mr. Tenor as fondly called, is the founder of Comic House Opera, the only opera company in Nigeria offering a decent opera performance in the country.
Mr. Tenor has played several big roles in operas by the Alexander Gibson Opera School, Royal conservatory of Scotland. He played roles like: Count Almaviva in Il Barbiera di Siviglia; Rodolfo in LA Boheme; Ernesto in Don Pasquale; etc. He was recently interviewed by the BBC over the recent cancellation of his opera due to the covid-19 virus pandemonium. Find link HERE.
ADVICE FROM MR. JOSEPH OPARAMANUIKE
In a response video, Mr. J O affirmed that the rest is needed. Instead of looking at the glass have empty, we are employed to look at it half full. Singers should make judicious use of the break to rest the voice. Just like any other muscle in the body, the vocal folds, too, need to rest. We barely feed it this rest because we never stop talking. But times like this, we should abstain from singing and allow the voice rest and heal so that when the storm is over and you need it to sing, it comes out rich, strong, and refreshed.
The maestro further advised that if you must do any vocal work-out, do micro warm ups like humming and lip rolls.
Also, you can do some breath control and breathing exercises. I won’t give any specific exercise because I don’t want to counter any breathing technique your voice teacher must have been working on with you.
To conclude the response video, Mr. Tenor warned not to jump into singing your highest and lowest notes when the pandemic is curtailed and the break is over. “Start with the middle register,” he said. This is to wake the voice from its long rest.
Just as I was working on this article, a singer called and was worried. She’d lost her voice and wanted to know how to get it back, fast. I told her to chill. This is the best period for you to lose your voice, I said. We should all be resting as we self-isolate. Choristers don’t have a big job signing in crutch this period, and singing gigs aren’t likely to come now, so this is really the best time for the voice to break down, relax and recuperate.
Dear singers, relax, let your voice rest, follow Mr. J O’s advice. You’ll be fine and this Covid-19 #stayathome will not affect your singing voice. Thank you Obianom Emmanuel for sharing with us.
Mr. J O.
John is a Nigerian Baritone, Falsettist, and a Writer. He is the first runner up for the Kingsley Inuope Idegun Memorial Award for Countertenors. His literary works have been published on online magazines like KalahariReview, PraxisOnline, AfroAnthologySeries, et al. He blogs stories on nighttalesng.wordpress.com