If you’re not warming up, you’re probably not cooling down
You’ve just finished your gig and you feel awesome. Your voice has lasted (for the most part) and now you want to nonchalantly pretend to pack your gear down whilst looking out into the crowd in hope that somebody wants to come up and congratulate you on, or at the very least talk to you about your performance. If they don’t come to you, you’ll probably mosey on over to the bar, (slowly, to give people a chance to congratulate you) and get yourself a pint and talk to your mates (or anybody who has actually come over to congratulate you).
Funnily enough, this is where you’re going to do the most damage to your voice.
By now the sound engineer has turned the loud music back on and you find yourself talking, loudly, drinking, laughing, flirting…..etc. for a couple of hours. You have a couple more pints, go out for a kebab or a pizza and manage to crawl into your bed at 2-3am and wonder why when you wake up the next morning (afternoon) you have no voice.
You probably have some vocal fold oedema (posh swelling) and maybe some acid-reflux irritation and really dry cords because you’re dehydrated. And then if you’re on tour (God forbid because that means you’ve had no sleep on a bus with the air-con on all night) then you’ve got to do the whole thing again that evening.
So how to break the cycle – or at least disrupt if for a while?
The answer is quite simply to cool down.
You can do exactly the same exercises that you do to warm up. Again, my favourite is the straw by far. Cooling down is really going to help you to preserve your voice. Instead of rushing off the stage to meet your adoring public, take time to pack down your gear, all the while humming through your range (nobody will hear you do this) and using the creaky hum and the “ng” sound as well. If there is a back stage (if not, go outside) and use the straw to get through your range a couple of times.
Avoid having vacuous conversations with people in the bar. Avoid having to raise your voice over loud music. I know that it’s beneficial to schmooze after a gig but sometimes you can really wreck your voice in that environment. Remember this is your job and sometimes you can’t mix business with pleasure. If people want to know more about you, then make sure that you have business cards etc. etc. that you can hand out, or arrange to meet or phone them. This may not seem like a load of fun to be honest, but if you gig on a regular basis sometimes this will be necessary to avoid harming your voice. If you can’t get out of the bar and you have to speak to people, please, please make sure that you cool down immediately after your gig to avoid any damage to your voice.