5 Tips to Keep You in Good Vocal Health and Performance Ready
What does it take to practice good vocal health so you will be performance ready for all the singing, teaching or speaking you have to do? After years of experiencing vocal issues myself, here are my top 5 tips to keep you healthy and avoiding vocal injury!
1. WATER, WATER, WATER! Staying well hydrated throughout the day is so important. You should be striving to drink at least 8, 8 oz. glasses of water a day. You do want to stay away from drinking caffeine as much as possible. Why? Although liquid does not actually touch the vocal folds, the caffeine acts as a drying agent which drys out the vocal folds. Dry cords will also tend to tighten which will also temporarily hinder your endurance. You want your cords to stay well lubricated and moist. So drink your water people everyday!
2. SLEEP! I know. This one is so hard. It is for me too. But sleep is so important to your vocal health. When you are sleep deprived your body is already fatigued resulting in possibly a raspy vocal tone, lack of vocal control, as well as lack of energy and endurance. Best practice is to strive for 8-10 hours of sleep every night. Set a routine and stick to it so your body gets use to the practice of wanting that full night’s rest, especially before a performance. Students in particular in to be reminded of this on the weekends; sometimes social sacrifices need to be made to protect your instrument.
3. HEALTHY FOOD! Food can be poison or fuel. What you put into your body directly affects how you feel, how much energy you have, what your skin looks like, and so many other things. It also directly affects your singing voice. I use to love to drink diet coke. All that caffeine is not only bad for you but also drys out the cords and is a stimulant. I use to think it gave me more energy but really all it does is dehydrate me causing me to have even less energy and leave me even more thirsty. Spicy food is another thing to avoid as a singer because it can burn the cords from acid built up in your system. It is best to stay with well hydrating foods that are full of water such as apples, pears, watermelon, peaches, melons, grapes, plums and applesauce.
4. FITNESS! Keeping your body in good physical condition will also help in protecting your voice. Workouts that focus on cardio and building your core muscles will give you more stamina, mobility and balance as a performer. You want your core muscles to be strong. The stronger your core the more improvement you will see in your diaphragm and breathing since it is your core muscles that hold up the diaphragm enabling you to sing longer phrases, hold notes longer, and sing with a more legato tone.
5. AVOID MISUSE and OVER USE of the VOICE! Avoid yelling or screaming in loud public areas. Good examples are sports events, music concerts, parties, etc. The tendency is to talk louder at these events just so you can be heard by the person or people that you attended the event with. But speaking louder can result in being hoarse. Signs that you are getting vocally tired and hoarse are a dry scratchy throat or soreness. This is your body’s way of telling you that your throat is irritated and it’s time to be quiet. Many times as people’s voices began to get tired and hoarse they start to clear their voice to help. This is not helping but adding to the damage. When you clear your throat it’s like you are slamming your vocal cords together…much like slamming a door. So instead reach for a sip of water or try coughing to clear your throat. Give yourself permission to take a “vocal nap” every now again when you have been using your voice frequently. For instance if you are a teacher or speaker, try to remain quiet between breaks and give yourself time alone away from others instead of socializing in the break room with colleagues.
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