One of the joys of pregnancy is saying goodbye to your stomach muscles, which isn’t great for most people but for singers it can mean the end of serious diaphragm control for some. Having had two children, I’ve found with each pregnancy that it has affected my voice differently; the first time I was just too knackered to sing and the hormone changes in my body seemed to make my voice sound different. If I did manage to sing it was usually interrupted by some retching! The second time around it wasn’t so bad and I had more energy and less vomit! Certainly on both occasions towards the end of the pregnancy the weight of the baby has meant that I found it impossible to sing very low or very high notes. However singing was definitely easier the second time around.
So here I am starting my journey back to vocal fitness again. Some days it is frustrating and other days it seems so easier. Half the battle is being able to fit in some practise between dealing with baby two and ferrying baby one back and forth to school. I’ve learnt that a little is better than no practise, and more than anything I need to be patient with myself. Some days my muscles want to co-operate and others days it’s like I have no muscles at all. Because I’m not singing all the time, my voice tires more quickly than it used to. Better every day it gets stronger!
The practise time has been made exciting though by the opportunity to dig out some of my favourite albums that I haven’t listened to in a long time. People don’t seem to listen to albums anymore, we’ve no time to spare to absorb a conceived music project; we want to skip through the songs that we know and love and technology has allowed us to do this. I also believe that technology has convinced us that we have no time for things that we don’t instantly like. I’ve always found that there are certain songs that need to grow on me and I need time to get know and appreciate them. However I’ve sung my way through umpteen different decades, styles and genres of music and found songs that I haven’t sung for years.
I’ve still got some time before I head to back to work next spring which is a relief! But every day is like getting to know my voice again and learning to appreciate the journey. It’s given me a fresh perspective on how some of my students feel and reminded me of the time when I was learning to sing in my teens. Sometimes it is good to let go and have a different life for a while…