Almost every morning, without even thinking about it, I hum as soon as I get out of bed. Before you think this is charming evidence of my natural good cheer, let me clarify: this humming is a frantic ascertaining of whether or not my voice still works that day. Even if I’m exhausted or dehydrated or have had the heat on too high all night, if my voice doesn’t give out an easy hum I start the day terrified that my voice is gone forever.
I try to warm up a little in the car on the way to work so I get the voice moving before I start talking all day. Not long ago I had a mid-morning funeral so I kicked my vocalizing up a notch. Doing some “fives-and-nines” I cracked three times in a row in the same top note. Panic ensued. I was convinced I had a node and I would never sing that note again. I later discovered it was a high-B, which combined with the fact that it was 7:15 in the morning and I was sitting in my car might explain why I couldn’t quite get the sound out.
Singers are crazy. We have put all this time and effort into something that may someday just stop working. And although we know that the career will never love us back, we invest a lot of self-worth in how well our fickle instrument works.
I have a concert tonight and have been coughing and hoarse all week. This morning my wake-up hum came out the best it has sounded in days. I breathed a sigh of relief. No need to freak out today, but there’s always tomorrow.
Tell me, singers. What’s your neurotic morning ritual?