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Fatigued cords - what to do?

Hi all,
One of our singers is doing a set of about 50 minutes in length where she's singing in her lower register almost exclusively. She's finding that her cords are getting fatigued by the end of the set. We'll have a 15-min break and then another 45-min set. I'm looking for ways to give her some relief. We've talked about: decreasing the tension in her neck and shoulders; singing lightly on pieces where we don't need so much bass; breathing in through the nose and out thru the mouth in between songs to consciously loosen up her throat; making quiet little sighs in her middle and upper registers during applause and intros when she won't be heard. I'm looking for additional ideas for both in between songs and during our 15-min break.
Any suggestions welcome!
Sing on,
on February 9, 2015 9:03am
Based upon the information you have provided i would suggest that this singer cease singing in her lower register exclusively.  She should sing in her middle or head register almost exclusively until she becomes aware of the difference.  A pedagogue would have to lead her to the condition of singing in a different register until she becomes aware of the difference.  Make sure you are using all modes of teaching (aural, visual, kinesthetic) to address the specific dimension of vocal register.  She must be "aware" of the feeling, sound and/or look of the new register before she can "own" it. 
Once she feels, hears, or sees the difference in registers, she will be able to exercise this part of her voice on her own, which will grow stronger and more satisfying to her and to you.  The fatigue will likely dissipate with the utilization of newly discovered registers.
on February 9, 2015 4:47pm
As a girl-group a cappella geek, I can tell you, you're having her do all the right things, but it's not going to make a huge difference on the whole.  No one can sing in just one part of their range for an extended period of time without vocal fatigue in the short term, and possibly serious damage in the long term.  
Going forward I'd strongly suggest that you:  
-audition some more low altos
-rearrange pieces so that part crossing allows her to get up into her upper register, while someone else dips below her for a line or two.  If the chorus bass line is lower than the verse, she can handle the chorus and then switch up to a higher part for the verse while someone else swaps down
-think about this stuff when you are planning out your concert rep. going forward, so that not everything you are singing is so low
and someone else can comfortably sing bass for a few pieces while she sings a middle part
The key is to keep everyone moving around throughout their range throughout the concert.  High sopranos shouldn't exclusively be singing very high notes either.  I had a college voice teacher who used to reprimand the members of my a cappella group frequently for singing things with such consistently low female bass lines.  But despite the fact that we were all singing 7 days a week with 3 or 4 different groups, we were all fine, because we carefully considered range when arranging music and our girlie basses would swap out with 1st altos or even 2nd sopranos through the course of a concert, depending on the range of the piece in question.  
on February 10, 2015 5:27am
In the current issue of ChorTeach (Vol 7, Winter 2015), there's an outstanding article I hope you'll read:    

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: Vocal Health Reminders for Music Educators, Conductors, and Singers

It's worth its weigh in gold!

Here's the link to that article:    You'll need to login.  Scroll down past the Choral Journal and click ChorTeach.  



on February 11, 2015 8:39am
Singing down there constantly is really tiring for almost any alto!  I run into this problem with my early music choir all the time, because the alto lines are frequently written with men's voices in mind, and a male alto is perfectly happy to hover around middle C all night.  I suggest switching her to other lines occasionally to give her voice a break.  Think of her low notes as a limited resource that you must deploy strategically, and let other people cover the low notes from time to time.
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