Vocal Health Tips from Singer Meg Mac
When you're hitting the road playing shows night after night, the most important thing to any singer is vocal health. It can be hard, especially when touring in the winter, when colds are circulating everywhere and you're playing rooms with hundreds of fans in attendance. I caught up with Australian singer-songwriter and Shure artist endorser Meg Mac to find out some of her secrets for maintaining her vocal health.
Brooke Giddens: As an artist who has been on the road for a while now, when do you know that your voice has had enough?
Meg Mac: When I wake up in the morning, that's when I know. I think because I am so conscious of my voice, I will notice the slightest changes. Usually I am able to take it as a warning and hopefully turn it around before it gets any worse.
BG: What are you eating and drinking to maintain vocal health on tour?
MM: I drink lots of water and only water, really. I eat the same as I always do, although it becomes a lot harder when you are in hotel rooms every night, so I just do the best I can. I tend to stay on the healthy side of eating and drinking because I always have to sing and use my voice. I save my late nights and bad food for celebrations after all the shows on a tour or a long run of dates.
BG: Do you do any vocal warm-ups before shows? If so, what do you do?
MM: Yes. I always make sure I do a good warm-up before I have to sing. I do lip bubbles, slides and sirens mostly. Then I just try to warm up my body.
BG: How does extensive touring affect your vocal health?
MM: I have found that from just doing more shows, everything to do with my voice has become a lot easier. I am stronger and more fit. My voice is definitely stronger. The low notes are easier, and each night, it feels like the top notes need less and less effort to reach. It feels good. When I am not on tour, I should keep it up at home and not save the hard singing for the stage, which I tend to do a lot.
BG: You use Shure in-ears with custom Sensaphonics molds. How have these affected your vocal health?
MM: Since I started using the in-ears, I have found after every show that I could do it all again. My voice is not tired, and I feel good. When I was using foldback wedges on stage, my voice would be worn out from trying to sing over the band because I couldn't hear myself well enough most of the time. When I can't hear myself properly, I end up pushing my voice without even realising that I am doing it. The in-ears have helped me control what I am hearing and also have helped me to stay in control of my voice.
BG: When you get sick, how do you put on a show?
MM: Sometimes I don't have any other option, apart from resting and doing everything I can to make myself feel better. I go through the set and songs in my head and work out the bits that will be challenging. I figure out what small changes I can make, whether it be the way I sing something, or a slight change in the melody to make my life a bit easier.
BG: What is your "secret weapon" remedy when you have to perform but your voice is not quite up to speed?
MM: I have a portable steamer, and I drink lots of hot water! That is about as fancy as I get.
BG: Have you ever worked with a vocal coach? What was that like?
MM: Yeah, I have done singing lessons, but I haven't had one in a long time! I am not sure I would be able to sing the way I do if I didn't have lessons. I think the best thing about it is that I can work out how to get different sounds and use my voice in different ways to get the sound that I want.
BG: Have you ever visited an ear, nose and throat specialist? What was that experience like?
MM: Yes, I have! Normally I wouldn't go, but it was urgent and during a tour. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I am so glad I did it because I was back to normal singing again so quickly.