As an aspiring vocalist, I’m finding it difficult to “find my voice.” Is it just a gut instinct? What tips would you give to any vocalist out there on how to improve both their delivery and vocal clarity? —Andrew Humbles, Reston
Singing is a gut instinct, but you can train your voice and learn exercises, which can be very helpful in preserving the instrument. That’s not easy: My average day on the road is filled with potholes. I wake in a strange bed in a strange room; there may have been cats around, setting off my allergies. The humidity has been sucked out by the AC or dry heat, so I shower for 30 minutes to try to dampen up the vocal chords. Planes, rental cars—more dry air. I do a few phone interviews, and talking in a controlled voice is more stressful for me than singing. I hardly sing at soundcheck and do no more talking for the rest of the day. I drink tons of water. After the show, soaking wet, I’ll meet the faithfully devoted and shake lots of hands, which exposes me to the flu or colds. I try not to touch my eyes, nose, or mouth until I can wash my hands. If I get ill on the road, it is typically an ENT-related situation. If there were two things I could go back and change, they would be the smoking and the screaming. I guess people enjoy it, but my voice is much more fragile because of the abuse. Either one is tough, but I did them together, on a daily basis, for many years. —Bob Mould
Bob Mould blogs at modulate.blogspot.com.