Conductor in front of choir © Studi43
COVID-19

Rebuilding a Choir After Quarantine

How to get back the voice and return to the stage better than ever

Thanks to the valiant efforts of researchers and health professionals, many of us are finally returning to the activities we’ve been missing during quarantine. COVID-19 took a lot from us, and for choir singers, it’s been difficult to maintain the voice.

Luckily, there are effective ways to bounce back. Many choir singers and conductors are eager to reach those pre-pandemic levels of harmony, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Below, we’ll look into strategies for choirs to come back together.

How a Choir Can Quickly Recover from Quarantine

The best way for a choir to bounce back after quarantine is a two prong approach:

  • Build up your practice at home
  • Work together as much as you can (while following local health guidelines)

We’ll cover the ways that choir singers can rebuild their voice—including at-home exercises—below. But no matter how well each singer in a choir gets at their individual practice, the magic really only happens when everyone works together.

That’s why conductors need to be proactive in reconnecting their singers. Many areas are now opening up, and that means more opportunities to safely rehearse. It’s important not to push anyone to practice if they don’t feel safe—either because they aren’t yet vaccinated or have other concerns.

Getting Back Your Voice

One of the oddest things about quarantine was how little we used our voices. For those living alone, they might go days without speaking much at all. That can become a big problem for choir singers.

There are a few key ways to rebuild your voice and make sure you return to the stage better than ever. If you are a conductor, make sure to emphasize these to your singers, as well.

Our top tips for getting back your voice after quarantine are:

  • Don’t overdo it: Right out of the gate, you might be so ready to get back to singing that you end up doing too much. One of the key points to getting back in fighting trim is to start where you are, not where you were when quarantine started.
  • Stay hydrated: Water is the key. While quarantine led to an increase in alcohol consumption for many, it’s time to cut back and drink at least three liters of water per day. Both alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you, and that’s no good for your voice. To maximize the benefit, stay always hydrated! 
  • Keep up on vocal exercises: It’s important to stay on track with your basic vocal exercises. A little bit everyday is far better than spending hours at a single session once a week. Remember, if you haven’t been exercising, be sure to start slow. Straining the voice won’t do you any favors. If you don’t have vocal exercises you like, we’ve got you covered in the section below.

By sticking to these simple guidelines, you’ll be able to return to choral music with confidence.

At-Home Vocal Exercises to Start Now

At-home exercises are a must. They create the solid foundation that choirs can build on at rehearsal.

If you aren’t sure where to begin with vocal exercises, here are several to get you started:

  • Stretching the neck: Warming up the voice begins with loosening your neck and getting the blood going in the body. Stand or sit up straight and slowly move your head from left to right five to 10 times. Then tilt the head up and down the same number of times. Next, roll the head all the way around, again up to 10 times. You can also roll the shoulders, helping your posture and comfort.
  • Diaphragm breathing: Begin by deep breathing in and out through your diaphragm, using your stomach muscles to draw in air. You should do this standing up with straight posture, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Try this for two minutes.
  • Yawn-Sigh: Now, breathe in with a wide, open mouth and exhale through the nose.
  • Humming a Scale: Humming is great for practicing pitch without straining the voice. By humming a scale, you loosen everything up and bring the ear and voice together.
  • Sirens: Moving on to something a bit more challenging, sirens get you to work in registers. You’ll make a simple “ooh” sound beginning at the bottom of your range. Then, you slowly glide up to your top pitch before going back down again. As you’ll hear, you’ll sound something like a siren.

By taking care of your vocal cords, rebuilding your voice through at-home exercises, and returning to group rehearsal, your choir singing will come back better than ever. You might even be ready for the 11th World Choir Games in Flanders this October and November. Happy singing, we’re glad to hear your voices again!

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