Beyonce said that when she was 10 years old her father would make her sing while running on a treadmill to build stamina for her stage performances as part of the group Destiny’s Child. Apparently she still does it and so do many other pop, rock, musical theatre performers and even some opera singers.
There was an interesting thread on this subject recently in the Professional Voice Teachers Facebook group - some espousing it and some dubious of the health of undertaking such a vocal training regimen.
Singing while running is not new. The military does it with their running cadences. However, as a training tool for singers it seems to be taking off.
Today I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of this form of training, how to decide if it’s right for you and steps to implement it.
Pros and Cons of Running and Singing
From my own personal experience, when I took up triathlon my vocal stamina and power increased tremendously and I was already a fairly active person going to the gym 2 – 3 times a week and taking 3 dance classes a week, but the cardio training of triathlon made a significant difference.
And that brings me to:
Is It Right for YOU?
Yes you need to be already physically fit. If you can not run, I mean JUST run, for at least 30 minutes, you should not attempt to run and sing as part of your training. This holds true of any cardio and singing – ellipticals, bikes.
However, you may be able to WALK and sing and this can have some of the same benefits if you don’t need to do much movement, which brings me to the second point in deciding if this is right for you.
Does your singing require a lot of stamina and involve moving while singing? If you are a show choir singer, a musical theatre performer, have an active stage performance of any kind, then YES, you need to develop the stamina and the sound stability that this will provide.
My first taste of the necessity for this control came when I was in my high school musical production of Anything Goes and I had to tap dance and belt out my solo over orchestra and chorus (this was before headset sound systems, so no adjusting sound balance). I’ve since had to deal with this many times from dancing and cartwheeling through the Can-Can while singing in Orpheus in the Underworld, to sustaining a high B while being lifted up and perching on a dancer’s shoulder for the big finish after singing and dancing my way through Not Since Nineveh in Kismet.
If you just stand and deliver (or sit and deliver) then probably you don’t need to do this type of training.
Steps to Safe and Effective Run/Sing Training
Now that you’ve decided you want to attempt this type of training. Here’s what you need to know:
Just like any other training, if you do it in a slow progressive manner, you will reduce your chance of injury and soon enough will have the stamina, endurance and vocal power that you require for the most demanding vocal athletics required of you.
You are a vocal ATHLETE!
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The Fit Singer is not a medical service. All physical activity carries the inherent risk of injury. It is your responsibility to choose which activities are right for you and to consult with medical professionals as you deem prudent or necessary. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.
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