World Choir Games Flanders 2021

How to cope with singing in the heat

  • [The views expressed in this blog are from my personal experiences from 25 years of leading non-auditioned community choirs in the UK, as well as adult singing workshops. My focus is on teaching by ear using a repertoire of songs from traditions across the globe. Your experiences may differ from mine, so do feel free to leave a comment and let's begin a conversation! A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]

     

    You wouldn't know it at the moment, but apparently it's summer here in northern Europe. We're hoping that it's going to get warmer soon. Meanwhile, parts of Canada and the US are currently experiencing extremely high temperatures. Which is maybe great for those on holiday, but can be a bit much when you have to sing in such heat.

     

     

    Here are a few things that might help you cope with the heat whilst singing.

    Many choirs perform outdoors at this time of year. When it’s seriously hot and sunny it can become unbearable very quickly. And even when you’re indoors rehearsing, the heat and humidity can really get to you.

    Here are some hints that might help you survive the heat whilst singing.

    singing indoors

    • Choose your venue wisely – if you have the chance and you know it will be hot when you rehearse, make sure you choose a venue with good ventilation (to allow for a through breeze) and not too many windows (to avoid the greenhouse effect when the sun’s out).

      See It’s too hot to sing! – choosing the right space to work in
       
    • Air con or fans? – these can be a great boon, but have definite downsides too. Both these cooling methods can affect singers’ chests and breathing. Air conditioning can quickly get too cold – it’s often hard to find the right balance. Many fans and air con make a lot of noise.
       
    • Change rehearsal times – much better to rehearse in the cool of the day: early morning or late evening.
       
    • Make the most of a fixed venue – sometimes we just have to make do with the venue we’ve got, especially when hot weather arrives unexpectedly. In these circumstances see if you can change to a more suitable room or corridor; try to cover the windows if it’s sunny; open as many doors and windows as possible; consider moving outside to rehearse in the shade; allow singers to sit down more often, especially if it’s humid.
       

     

    singing outdoors

    • Relax your dress code – you may have a specific uniform for your choir which is not be best-suited to hot weather. See if you can adapt your dress code to suit.
       
    • Wear protection – make sure singers are wearing plenty of sun screen and allow hats (and maybe sunglasses) if you have to sing without any shade.
       
    • Choose your performing spot well – you may not have a choice, but if you do, choose a shady spot where there’s some breeze. Could be beside a building or under a tree. Position the choir so that they’re not looking into the sun (or they won’t see the conductor!).
       
    • Hydrate – make sure singers have access to plenty of water. Maybe relax your strict performance rules to allow water bottles onstage.
       
    • Read more Tips and tricks for performing outdoors


    In either case – whether outdoor or indoor singing – there is always the possibility of rescheduling (if that’s an option) to a time when it’s not so hot.

    Do let me know if you have any other useful suggestions, especially if you come from a place where you regularly have to deal with very hot weather.

     

     

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

    website: chrisrowbury.com
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