Some Practical Tips for Vocal Health Part 1

1. Water

This is easily the most important thing for singer and also one of the easiest to do. Drink water and drink lots of it.  This will keep your vocal folds moist and well lubricated.  Water also helps to counteract a lot of negative influences on your voice that you will read about later.

2. Avoid clearing your throat and coughing

Throat clearing and coughing are very hard on the voice and over an extended period of time can lead to vocal nodes. We clear our throats can cough typically because of thick or too much mucus…yuck.  If you feel the need to clear your throat the best thing to do is producing a breathy cough that contains more air then sound. Try creating a sharp “H” sound that has lots of air behind it. This can be just as effective as clearing your throat without the negative side effects.

3. Don’t smoke

This one seems pretty obvious as smoking has negative effect on our health in multiple aspects including the voice.  Cigarettes are irritating to the vocal tract and disastrous for the voice.  I will not take on a student who smokes and many teachers will refuse to work with you until you give it up.

4. Don’t drink coffee or tea (yes this includes hot tea with lemon or honey)

Tea and coffee are diuretics, which mean they dry everything out including the voice.  They make the voice raspy and scratchy and overtime will cause hoarseness and vocal problems.  If you absolutely must have coffee to survive the day counter it with a lot of water.  Many choral directors advocate the use of hot tea and lemon/honey. Don’t do it! Again tea dries out the voice even though it might feel good at the time.  If you feel you need something just drink warm water.

5. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is bad for the voice in the same way as coffee or tea.  It dries out the voice and removes the necessary lubrication that keeps the voice healthy.

6. Dry air

Living California certainly has its perks but the dry air can be bad for the voice.  Be sure to drink lots of water and you may consider adding a humidifier to your room at night.  Airplanes can also be extremely dry so be sure to drink plenty of water.  If your throat is overly dry try combining 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, 1/2 tsp. of clear corn syrup, and 6 oz. of warm water and gargling.

7. Avoid Antihistamines

Lots of people deal with allergies and as bad as allergies can be for the voice the cure can almost be worse.  Antihistamines dry everything out and create a bad environment for vocal health.  Try nasal steroid sprays for congestion they are fine for the voice and may be as effective as antihistamines.  If allergies are still a problem I highly recommend allergy shots.  They are one of the best things I have done ever! They actually help your body build up immunity to allergies so over time you are essentially cured of allergies.  This can be time consuming and if you don’t have the covered by insurance they can be expensive but they are the absolute best solution.

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