My Top 10 Tips to Ensure Your Descants Don't Disappoint this Christmas.
The weeks before Christmas tend to get very busy for musicians, especially those who help out with the music-making at their church.
There are Christmas concerts, maybe a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” or Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio”, extra services, and Carols, Carols Carols! This all happens at the end of a busy year and, in the Northern Hemisphere, in the winter when colds and flu are at their height.
Here are my Top 10 Tips for getting through it all.
Put your health first. This may seem obvious, but this is a long game. Rehearsals start in October, and you need enough left in the tank for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
Mask-up at rehearsals. Covid taught us that the transmission of colds/flu can be arrested by wearing a mask. Singing is a high-risk activity when it comes to the spread of saliva droplets. One sick person can take out an entire section.
Take regular posture breaks at rehearsals. Head off aches and pains at the pass. Roll your shoulders, loosen your knees, massage your jaw etc while someone else is singing/playing their bit.
Adopt the best possible posture at all times, whether you're sitting or standing. You’ll feel much less tired if you don't slump and slouch.
Hydrate! Always have your water bottle within reach at rehearsals.
Rest your voice when you can. Yes, it's great to have the social contact that music brings…..but if your voice is feeling tired head off for a solitary 5 minutes at the break.
Learn to say “No”. It's really easy to get over-committed at this time of year. Whether it's an extra social event, or someone asks if you can fill-in at another concert….if your first thought is, “Yikes, how will I manage that?” you should probably politely decline.
Prioritise your sleep. Extra rehearsals often mean more late nights. If you find it hard to decompress after a concert, or even a rehearsal, adopt a routine which avoids devices, TV, and blue light stimulation. Herbal teas, dim lighting and calming aromatherapy oils may all help reduce the amount of time it takes for you to drop off to sleep.
Use a diary to keep track of your commitments. Knowing you have everything organised (on paper/electronically at least!) will reduce your stress levels.
Look after your nutrition. Make sure you have healthy snacks in your bag. Grabbing junk food when you're time-pressed is a lose-lose situation.
The last thing any of us want is to get sick at this time of the year, so don't be afraid to put yourself and your health first.