On the road as a singer with Vocal Teacher Noa Frenkel

On the road as a singer

Being a singer means you carry your instrument wherever you go. When we travel we might not have to deal with baggage allowance and the hassle of carrying an instrument on a flight, but we can also not put it safely “in a box”. We are exposed to weather, tiredness, stress, and different conditions, and whatever we experience on the road, at the end of it we need to be in top form to perform. So what do we do? The answer is, we have to learn how to travel and protect our instrument.

Singing as top sport

Singers are like athletes in the sense that they need to keep the body in a good shape while performing. To me it has several aspects: good sleep, right food, throat and back health, and keeping the stress level relatively low.

Everyone has another sensitivity

A wonderful osteopath I am working with told me that generally people are divided into 3 groups: the lungs/throat group, the back group, or the skin group. That means that when stress level will go up, the lungs/throat group might get a bronchitis, the back group will have back pain or a blocked vertebra, and the skin group will develop a rash.
So it is important to know yourself as a singer, and to take care of your main sensitive area. Since I am more of a sensitive back person, I help myself with regularly practicing Pilates, which changed my life as a singer, as well as seeing an osteopath at least twice a year.
Dressing well, getting enough water and sleep and planning your travel right also help in avoiding illness or discomfort. Having a small “singer’s pharmacy” is also helping: my personal favorite is Oregano Oil, which has a fantastic disinfecting effect and helps both stomach and throat dis-ease.

Learning from experience

An unlucky visit to an Indian restaurant just before a general rehearsal of an opera, after which I had to sing the rehearsal with a dizziness and a beginning of a food poisoning, has taught me to choose familiar, light and ‘safe’ food also on the road.
A 9 hours flight to Canada just in front of a coughing and sneezing fellow traveler, by the end of which I had to sing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, has taught me to always carry with me some means of disinfection… or, as I did that time, explain to the stewardess the situation and ask for assistance (I got a very nice whiskey which at least psychologically felt like I am disinfecting the throat, and I luckily didn’t get sick upon arrival).

Jet-lag, noise, and the hassle of the road:

We can’t totally avoid the effects of jet lag, of tiredness from being for hours on train or plane, but we can help ourselves: I now use a vitamin c formula (called “effer-c”) which lowers the effects of jet lag, and I always carry my noise blocking headphones with me. When you can listen to music quietly on the road and disconnect from conversations or noise of other passengers, you arrive to your destination much less stressed.
In the end, like most aspects of being a singer: it is all a combination of knowing yourself, and gaining experience. Knowing what works for you and knowing how to better travel make our lives much easier.

Traveling is one of the things I like most about this profession – the possibility of seeing new landscapes, meeting people all over the world and the privilege of sharing your art with new audiences is, to me, very much worth the effort.
I wish you all good travels, new horizons, health and balance on the road.

Text: Noa Frenkel

Photo: Bryndis Brynjolfsdottir