Tap Your Troubles Away is a number from the Broadway musical MACK AND MABEL.
You’ll find it on YouTube if you don’t know it already. I was perhaps not really the world’s worst dancer, but I certainly often thought I was. Director and choreographer Karen Rabinowitz – a good friend, thank goodness – still remembers my first attempts at a tap-dance routine. I insisted I needed to try and write down the steps she’d choreographed for us to do – SHUFFLE HOP TAP STEP BALL-CHANGE… rather than just get on and practise the steps. During these lock-down times I still do a bit of tap Karen, in my kitchen, waiting for the microwave to buzz. And do you know, I think I might be getting a bit better.. I lost the written instructions a long time ago!
I feel it’s an important part of my job to try and find the simplest and most practical ways for the people I coach to do the practice we all need to keep vocally fit. I always admire people who can find something positive when others would think there was something to moan about. I’ve been working with a client : she lives alone, and is at the moment working alone. She thought it might be a good idea, with a fair amount of extra time available – no rush-hour commutes at the moment – to do some work on her voice. And she was laughing, at her self – usually a good healthy thing to do – that one of the reasons she was enjoying her voice exercises was that they gave her an excuse to talk to someone. Talking to me, actually, as I’d WeTransferred some audio files I’d made of voice exercises that she could join in with.
Finding time to get a bit of voice practice can be hard when you’re working flat out. It’s good to look for those little moments we might usually miss. The amount of time we all spending waiting for things to happen. So next time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or the toast to pop up, play some sounds, a radio, a computer. Have a conversation with the speaker or the singer. Be the vocalist with the band. Repeat the words you hear, take the opportunity to answer back. I get very vocally involved with Radio 4 morning news programmes at the moment. But it’s probably best for your voice if you, for instance, sing whatever your response might be to the latest bulletin. I give in to a bit of shouting sometimes I’m afraid. You could sing on one note, like when people intone in church. Or, perhaps even better, find some music you can enjoy. Hum away to it. If you don’t know the words, or it’s an instrumental piece, sing BUH BUH BUH or WOW WOW WOW. You’ll find you need to breathe more deeply, to keep the sound going to the end of the tune. And you will be warming and working some vocal muscles. They enjoy being kept fit just like any other muscles in the body. Then when you’re speaking on the phone later in the day you’ll feel ready prepped. Ready to offer some good positive energy to the world. And I mustn’t forget encouraging you to sing in the shower. Always a good way to start the day.