When the Show is Over: How to Plan for Vocal Recreation

Bring on tomorrow

Let it shine

Like the sun coming up on a beautiful day

It’s yours and mine.

“Bring on Tomorrow”, from Fame, by Steve Margoshes & Jacques Levy


It’s Sunday morning…no, wait, it’s Sunday afternoon.  You closed your show last night, helped with bumped out, then went to the cast party.  And now you’re feeling ALL the feelings.  Grief that the entity you dedicated most of your spare time to for the last six-plus months (from audition through to closing) is over.  And you’ll miss the cast and crew, the audiences, the “other-worldliness” that is the romance of the theatre.

But it can’t go on forever.   Seemingly only minutes after your final bows, as the “workers” (harsh fluorescent lights over the stage) are turned on and the set is pulled apart, the starkness of the stage proves to you that it really was all make-believe.


So, you roll over and start thinking about WHAT’S NEXT.  (I am a sucker for that phrase…thanks President Bartlet!)  Maybe you have another project lined up, in fact maybe you’ve already started rehearsing it.  Or you might have some clear space to rebalance you and your life.

Either way – this blog is for you.  It is about ways you can draw breath and regroup, restore normality for your voice and your heart, but capitalise on the vocal fitness you received from the show.

There’s a natural tendency to want to start the next project right after finishing a major project, or at last plan that that’s what you’re going to do.  Doing that, though, is akin to finishing a marathon only to immediately start running another….the more it matters to you, the greater the need for downtime and transition time after finishing your project.

Charlie Gilkey, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done

Finish Well

Although this is not a new concept, I’m drawing some of the specifics of this idea directly from Charlie Gilkey, founder of Productive Flourishing and author of Start Finishing.

Some suggestions:

The process of getting projects done is messy.  Through the process, we hoard, scatter, cram, stack, lose, break and wear out physical, mental, and digital stuff all over the place.

Charlie Gilkey, Start Finishing: From Idea to Done

Take the time to make sense of things, put them away, and breathe calm back into your surroundings.  This activity will help you to process the end of your project, even while you are making space for the next one.

Vocal Refresh

A surprising range of inefficient habits have a way of creeping into our vocal technique while we are meeting performance expectations.  As you enter a routine that has less rehearsals and performances, take time to return your singing instrument to its home-base technique in the following areas:

Over a period of 1-2 weeks, turn your attention to one of these areas at a time and look for ways to restore the ease and efficiency that you have refined with your singing teacher or vocal coach. 

Physical Reset

Social Reset

Were there relationships and random acts of kindness that had to be neglected while you were in the midst of such a mad performance schedule?  Your family and friends understand and really love to watch you perform.  But now you can catch up on the things that are important to you.

Replenish Your Gig Bag

As you bring your gear home, some of it needs sorting out, throwing out, even replacing.  Grab a checklist of ideas from the blog on preparing your gig bag.

Sing Other Material

In the same way that a swimmer does more than just swim to stay fit and efficient, so singers should sing a variety of musical content to help the voice feel vibrant and flexible.  

This table gives some examples of vocal goals and the variations you might want to switch to for vocal recreation. 

Balancing Goal: Type A Type B
Register Coordination Chest/lower register dominance Head/upper register dominance
Delivery Style Vowel driven Consonant driven
Breath Management Short phrases Long phrases
Historical Golden Age Contemporary 
Genres Jazz Musical Theatre
Styles within genres Sondheim70-80s pop Rodgers & Hammerstein2000s pop

Maintain Your Vocal Fitness

You have just finished a period of intentional, frequent vocal use of lengthy duration. This should have given your vocal fitness a boost that you’d like to keep. Unfortunately, unless you maintain some intentionality and frequency, it will slip away. Click here for more information on how to train your voice.

Why not set a small goal to consolidate your gains.

I’m sure this collection of ideas is just the beginning, and hopefully you’re now thinking of other ways you can do a vocal refresh as you process the closure of your last major project.  I wish you much vocal ease, peace of mind, and joyful singing.

If you’ve thought of a great idea to add to this blog…I’d love to hear from you!  

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Gilkey, C.  (2019).  Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done.  Sounds True, Colorado

Photo by Michael Olsen on Unsplash

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