Vadé is the UK’s leading a cappella jazz quintet. They share with Singsician how they stay on top of their technique, performance and vocal health:
What do you do vocally before a performance that helps to deliver?
We make sure to warm up our voices. If you were to imagine a 100m race, any runner that runs without first stretching out his or her muscles is setting themselves up for a serious injury. In theory, we do the same thing with our voices. If we have a 45min set, we will spend time doing exercises like the vocal fry or lip roll to help warm up our vocals. We will also make ourselves a tea from fresh lemon and a bit of honey.
What do you do to look after your voices?
It all starts with ensuring we’re getting as much rest as possible. When you’re physically tired, it definitely affects your vocals. Drinking lots of water also helps to keep our voices in good condition. We try to minimize talking or unnecessary singing prior to gigs. It’s best not to put your vocal chords under unnecessary strain. We also make sure that vocal exercises are part of our day-to-day routine along with scheduling a day of vocal rest.
What kinds of exercises do you do as a group? Do you have a favorite warm up?
We do breathing exercises, intonation exercises, harmonic exercises, and diction exercises .Our favorite is our ‘Number Song’ where each number represents a different note on the scale. We will sing our numbers up and down the scale and we will each hold different notes/numbers to create different blocks of harmonies. We repeat this exercise taking it up a key each time. We find that this is a great way of ‘stretching’ or warming up our vocal muscles before we get into a rehearsal session or before performing. It’s fun because we get to explore and discover new chords/harmonies and the melodies created are incredible.
You’ve achieved such incredible control, intonation and blending – how do you maintain your vocal edge?
We took a year out as a group to get to know one another properly. It was important for us to bond as brothers and get to know each other vocally. We also always try to record our performances and spend time together listening/watching and identifying areas that require improvement and need to be worked on. We never get complacent and think that we’ve arrived. We’re committed to continuous learning, development and improvement.
What do you do when practicing alone to stay on top of technique?
When learning our individual parts we listen to the song through our headphones. One side has our individual part isolated while the other has all the parts. When listening our isolated individual parts, we’re able to take note of how long to hold our notes for, phrasing etc. Physical exercise is also an important part of staying on top of technique. The more physically fit we are, the better our breathing will be, for example.
What do you do to maintain energy/positivity in group practice and individual practice?
We encourage one another, pray together, and remind one another about our goals as a group and visualise achieving those goals. This is a huge motivator and makes us want to practice efficiently and effectively so that our dreams become reality. It’s all about intentionally working towards developing and maintaining a positive mental attitude.
Additionally, knowing that the other group members are actively working on honing their skills and mastering their craft is motivating. No one wants to be the weakest link! We aim to monitor our own progress so that our successes are measurable. It’s so important. When you achieve your goals, it motivates you to challenge yourself even more.
Why would you recommend some a cappella work to choirs or even soloists?
When there’s no music to ‘hide’ behind, singers must be very intentional about maintaining the correct pitch and using a variety of vocal techniques to perform. Developing this type of discipline and control will most certainly boost your confidence.
Most important vocal lessons learned along the way?
Never ever ever take your gift for granted! We observe musicians handling their instruments with extreme care and as singers, our voice is our instrument and should also be handled with extreme care. We carry our instrument with us wherever we go and must ensure that it is not strained or abused. Never underestimate the importance of practice. Even the most amazing singer in the world has to work on their craft otherwise regression is inevitable!