All too often singers develop problems with their voices which could have been prevented by a little knowledge applied at the right time.
Today I’m going to try to provide a few simple guidelines that I hope will help spare some of you the frustration of having your voice go out on you at a bad time.
One of the most important things you can do for your voice is to stay healthy. I know, not all illnesses can be avoided, but if you are serious about keeping your voice in shape you should make an extra effort to stay healthy. Ear muffs in colder climates can help prevent numerous ear and throat infections by keeping the inner ear passages warm. Washing your hands before touching your face or after contact with people who have the sniffles can help you avoid many forms of the common cold. Getting plenty of rest can help your body’s immune system resist the ‘bug’ that’s going around. A healthy diet will also help.
Beyond such obvious steps to maintaining your health, there are a few things you can do specifically to keep your voice at its best.
- Drink plenty of water. It not only is good for you, it helps keep the vocal mechanism lubricated.
- Moderate your alcohol intake, especially for a few days prior to any planned performances. Alcohol dries out your throat and can cause unnecessary strain on the vocal cords.
- If you smoke, quit. The husky lounge singer sound belongs in a smoke-filled bar, not in the choir. You know all the health reasons to stop, so I’ll just add that it’s possibly the worst thing you can do to your voice.
- Reduce your use of dairy products. They increase mucous production and aare generally not good for your voice. If you don’t believe they affect your voice, take this challenge: cut out ALL dairy products for a month, preferably the month before a scheduled performance. After the performance, resume your normal dairy intake and see what it does to your voice (and the rest of you).
Get plenty of exercise, too. However, avoid doing much exercise that involves heavy lifting. Many voice coaches teach that this type of activity can put excessive strain on the neck and throat, affecting the vocal mechanism.
Another thing: be aware of how tired your voice is. If you are tired, your voice is probably tired, and you shouldn’t strain it by trying to sing too loud. Once you have had a chance to rest, and to rest your voice, then you can use it with strength.
Here’s to healthy singing!