In this episode of the Intelligent Vocalist podcast, John Henny spoke with Nad Sylvan, who sings on tour with Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited.
During the podcast, John talked with Nad about how he sang and toured for long periods without getting a sore throat or hurting his voice, and staying healthy overall. In this article, we'll be summarizing the conversation between John and Nad. In addition, we'll share some valuable tips and advice from the wonderful musician and professional singer, Nad Sylvan.
Establishing Healthy Habits
For Nad, who was touring and performing across the United Kingdom when the podcast was recorded, it is essential to create healthy habits to maintain vocal health. Otherwise, he might damage his voice through overuse. It can be overwhelmingly difficult with his hectic schedule, but the performer is aware of what he needs to do to maintain good vocal health.
To keep his singing voice healthy, he must form positive habits even while performing for an extended period. He has to stay in good shape to keep up with his fans and ensure that he and his team give their supporters the time of their life during performances.
Staying Healthy on Tours
One of the most exciting things about being an artist is probably going on tours. It is their chance to see and mingle with their fans from different parts of the world.
In the podcast, John also opened up about Nad's UK tour that came up after the COVID-19 lockdowns. The singer shared that he has been traveling with Steve Hackett since 2013 and that this year has been enormous since they had to do all of the performances that had been postponed due to coronavirus, as well as the new Foxtrot shows that had been planned a long time ago.
This all the more makes it a lot more interesting how he keeps his vocal cords and voice box healthy. With that, John and Nad were able to discuss how Nad takes care of his vocal health.
How to Keep a Healthy Voice: Tips from Nad Sylvan
Nad shared in the podcast that he uses a throat spray to avoid having a dry throat during performances. He also takes lozenges like "little bandaids" to keep his voice smooth and nice and to avoid frequent throat clearing.
However, the singer recognizes that the throat lozenges and sprays are temporary remedies. It is because— in the words of John — they're "not hitting the vocal fold."
Nad has a lot of insights on keeping his voice strong, and he was kind enough to share them with us. We definitely took notes!
1. Drink Plenty of Water
One of the most important tips that Nad shared is to drink water. He stresses the importance of staying hydrated, particularly when performing for extended periods.
Doing this will help keep your vocal cords hydrated, preventing dryness. Additionally, drinking lots of water can help flush out any toxins or bacteria in the throat that could cause irritation or infection.
Staying hydrated by drinking glasses of water is very important for singers. Water also lubricates the throat and helps to keep the vocal cords in good condition.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Another tip from Nad is to get enough rest. Not only do voice specialists understand the importance of voice rest in keeping a healthy singing voice, but they also know that a good night's sleep is essential for the entire body.
In the latter part of the podcast episode, Nad shared an experience when he performed while he was tired. He was having difficulty hitting some of the higher notes.
He felt a tingling sensation in the bottom part of his stomach. He believed that his exhaustion might have prevented him from doing well during that show.
Adequate sleep is crucial in maintaining a good voice. When the body doesn't get enough rest, we become fatigued, and our vocal cords can become strained. This can lead to hoarseness and vocal nodules.
3. Keep a Healthy Diet
Keeping good health for singers means gaining new habits and losing some. Eating a healthy diet is important for maintaining a healthy singing voice. Eating foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals can help keep the vocal cords solid and healthy.
Nad shared with John in the podcast that he will occasionally have some wine but emphasized that he won't get drunk or drink hard liquor. Achieving adequate hydration entails not abusing your body with alcohol.
Nad also mentioned on the show that he stopped smoking cigarettes long ago, which made a difference. Smoking is a big no-no for him now. He emphasized that if someone wants to use their singing voice to their maximum potential, and singing is their livelihood, they should avoid anything that could interfere with what brings food to the table.
4. Don't Force the Voice
Even though Nad had to hit some extremely high notes, he shared a vocal technique that involved not pushing the voice during those notes.
When it comes to keeping the voice healthy, one of the most important tips is never to force your singing. Singers should never try to push their voices beyond what they are capable of. This can lead to vocal strain and even damage the vocal cords.
Instead, singers should focus on using proper techniques when singing. This includes proper breathing, posture, and support from the diaphragm.
Performer at 63: How Nad Keeps Up
Yes, he's already sixty-three but has his voice in shape like he's just in his twenties!
Nad is an incredible example of how to keep the voice healthy. At sixty-three, he has managed to maintain a singing voice that sounds like it belongs to someone in their twenties. He credits this success to his dedication and commitment to taking care of his vocal cords.
Nad knows that he's become more mature because of his age. He couldn't be that guy who can be out and party all night long because he "[doesn't] have the energy for that anymore."
So, how does he do it? How can he maintain his vocal range and avoid having a hoarse voice despite performing every now and then?
Schedule Rest Days
It is important for singers to schedule rest days in order to give their vocal cords a break. This will help prevent vocal strain and fatigue. Singers should take at least one day off from singing each week and avoid speaking too much during the day.
Nad told John that it wasn't necessary to sing for hours and hours every day, emphasizing the fact that vocal rest is critical. Especially for his job, which requires him to tour, a rested voice is significant and needs to be prepared beforehand.
Identifying His Achilles' Heel
While he gets to perform with other incredible musicians, Nad knows that his weakness is keeping time. He calls that his Achilles' Heel. Even with all of his experience, he can recognize that and continues to work on and hone his skills as a musician.
Focusing on strengthening this enables him to get a better feel for the music, especially as he works within very complex time signatures.
Nad has been doing this for so long that he doesn't get as tripped up with the technicalities of the songs. "I just feel the music," Nad said, even though it can still be difficult at times, and sometimes, just as every singer will experience at least once in their life, he'll have an off day. But he doesn't let that discourage him.
Nad relies on his muscle memory of good singing so that he can consciously focus on musicality, phrasing, and how he wants to form certain words and make certain sounds to his liking.
Learning New Material
Learning new material can be a challenge for any singer, but it is especially important to take the time to learn it correctly. For one, it allows performers to discover more about their passion and profession. Second, this will help ensure that the voice does not become strained or damaged.
Nad recommends taking the time to learn new material slowly and carefully. It entails always having room for learning to improve as a singer and musician.
Nad Sylvan is an excellent example of how to keep the voice healthy. He has maintained his vocal range and avoided having a hoarse voice despite performing night after night.
His advice includes hydrating, getting enough rest, keeping a healthy diet, and not pushing the voice. With dedication and commitment, singers can ensure that their voices remain healthy for years to come.
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