Top 10 Tips for Singing in the Holidays

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Many people are singing in the holidays more than any other time of year. Here are tips that will enhance your Singing Results this Holiday Season.   The count down starts today… Dec 15, 2013.


Tips #10 – Make A List

Just Like Santa… and, Practice!


So many times at gatherings people start to sing and get through a couple of songs and then can’t figure out where to go next.  Or, they get half through a song and no one can remember the rest of the verse. By making your own list of favorites you are ready to offer the next song to sing, plus you have had the opportunity to brush up on your singing. More refinement on this tip to follow.


See how having a list of songs ready to go makes a difference this year!


Tip #9 – Smaller Portions of Food

You knew this one was coming!


The quantities of food we eat around the holidays are astounding and most people actually PLAN on gaining 5-10 pounds. What would happen to your singing if you lost 5-10 pounds (writing to most of us – there are a few who don’t need this tip)?   For most of us, that extra few pounds of ‘bloat’ ends up in our belly, and for me the neck and face.  The impact on singing is significant.  First, the extra weight in the belly limits breath support, which means challenges for singing longer vocal phrases, and impact on pitch. Extra weight in the neck and face add tension while singing.


Tip #8 – Quick Warm Ups for Spontaneous Singing Situations (SSS)

Perhaps more than other times of the year, the holiday season offers more Spontaneous Singing Situations where you are invited to jump in with little (if any) advanced notice.


Perhaps the best quick warm up is the “Fire Engine Siren Exercise,” sliding your voice from low, to high, back low.  This can be done at a fairly low volume, or can be injected with a gesture of humor into the flow of the situation.


Let me know if you get a chance to use this technique over the next few weeks.


Tip #7 – Connect with the Spirit

In a typical countdown list this would be #1.  But, it needs to come in now because it’s so vitally important. This time of year reminds us of our Spiritual connection with God, Great Spirit, our Higher Self, or Intuition. Whether you specifically identify with spirituality or not, you can get a ‘sense’ of an atmosphere of good will, love and joy at this holiday time of year – let’s call that Spirit.


For singing, we want to connect with that Spirit.  And if we think about it, we want to connect with the Spirit all year long when we’re singing, so we can use this example as a model for the rest of the year.  Some tips for connecting include:

  • taking a deep breath, releasing any stress of the day, such as frantic shopping
  • tune in to your own Spiritual beliefs and allow them to be present in your heart, mind, and body. This might include prayer, meditation, or a few moments of silent reflection.
  • imagine the Spirit of this season as a physical manifestation of the space surrounding you and soak it in, feel it!
  • sing softly, connecting your heart with that sense of Spirit where you are


There are many ways to connect with Spirit and this is a great ongoing discussion topic.


For now go out and Sing with your Beloved Friends, Neighbors, Community, and Family. Share the Spirit in your heart through your voice, loving words and actions.


Tip #6 – Avoid (or minimize) Dairy Products


Are you “Singing Through the Cheese”? Pizza is a favorite food and common for grabbing a group meal after rehearsal. But, there are consequences to singing the following day. Dairy products lead to a build of excess inflammation and mucous production in most people.  It is the rare vocalist who does not have any reaction to dairy and typically includes increased phlegm and need to clear the throat (which can be damaging to vocal chords over time).


If you’re having drinks and singing along in a social gathering the impact of dairy is probably not worth considering. But, if you have a solo or big performance, do yourself a favor and stay away from dairy for a few days prior.


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Tip #5 – RELAX, have FUN, ENJOY!


A lot of people ‘stress out’ about singing. They are concerned about being on pitch, their voice cracking, or whether they’ll sing the wrong words.


Good advice for any time of the year is to RELAX! Singing with strain sounds bad and can be painful. And, the tone from singing when relaxed is much more appealing to the audience.


Have you ever seen a performance where the singer was having so much fun that you got wrapped up into their energy and enthusiasm? Having fun and enjoying yourself is good on their own merits, but can also help cover up mistakes.  And, guess what? EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES from time to time – we’re all human.  So, WHEN you do make a mistake being able to laugh about it, smile or just incorporate the ‘mistake’ into the flow helps everyone have a good time.


And, if you need more convincing just remember that it’s part of the Spirit of the Season! 🙂


Tip #4 – Eliminate or Limit Alcohol Consumption


Alcohol is a big part of holiday celebrations and it can add to enjoyment for many people. It may not be reasonable or desirable for many people to eliminate alcohol completely, but at least you can be educated about the IMPACT OF ALCOHOL ON SINGING.


There are two main areas that alcohol impacts singing in a negative way:

1)      Just like other muscles in the body and the neural structure that supports their movement, alcohol can create sluggish and impair abilities – think about how it impacts your ability to walk, drive, and other activities – now imagine your vocal chords being similarly affected. On alcohol, diction becomes sloppy, pitch issues abound and tone quality can go out the window.


2)      Breath support – The first impact for me personally is that even a single alcoholic beverage hits my lungs and limits the foundation of singing, my breath support. I may be more sensitive that most in this area, but it’s worth considering and is an impact many people overlook when they think they can have 1-2 drinks and be fine for singing.


Many night club performers consume alcohol during their sets and for some instruments it may not be as apparent.  While a guitarist might become a little sloppier on their riffs, in many cases that effect is desirable in the genre, and losing solid breath support does not directly limit a guitarist.  However, most vocalists who consume alcohol immediately reveal it’s affect in their performance.  If the audience is intoxicated, perhaps it doesn’t matter as much, but a sober group will notice the difference.



Okay – there’s one aspect of alcohol that can be beneficial in that it may reduce some inhibitions and allow you to ‘cut loose’ and be more expressive.  But, even when you think you’re in control and ‘think’ you sound better – for most people you’ll just sound like someone who is drunk singing.



If possible, avoid alcohol completely when performing.  Save the celebratory toast until after you’re complete.  If that level of abstinence doesn’t work for you, try to limit consumption to 1-2 beverages until you’re complete with sharing your voice.


And of course, remember Tips # 5 and #7. It’s really about connecting with Spirit, Relaxing and having a great time. Maintaini your own sense of integrity and do what feels right for you.


Tip# 3 – Practice Your Favorite Songs

Earlier  you make a list of your favorite songs. So, now it’s time to practice.  Even singing through the song 2-3 times will help tremendously.  Short in words, but that’s to leave you more time to practice! Until tomorrow!


Tip #2 – Work up Harmony for a few Favorites

In that practice time, work up some harmony that you’ve always watned to do.  You know what happens… the song starts and then you remember how you wanted to learn to sing the harmony part this year. Practiced!  Typically singing along with a recording is the easiest approach.


Tips #1 – Be the One!

 If we are lucky, at our gatherings will be ‘the one’. The true promoter of singing with spirit and sharing this beautiful human art form with others which by coincidentally raise our spirits and thereby makes one of the most valuable and beautiful gifts to the world. BE THE ONE – share the music of song. Let your friends rest on your motivation to glide them along to opening and sharing at this most fundamental expression of human connectedness. 

100 years ago virtually all music you heard was “live” and chances are those (who are now dead) were all actually “making the music.” For thousands of years music was core bonding foundation of humans and it went away over the past 100 years. 

Dear Friends, it’s making a come back – uniting us all in a brotherhood/sisterhood of peace, love and community. 

Peace and Gratitude to you all who are on the front lines singing from your heart! 



Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Solstice!
May You All be Well and Happy!
So Be it! 

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Categories: singing tips.

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