5 vocal health tips for singers

Image Credit: Maelle Ramsay

Follow these 5 top health tips for singers to keep your voice in great shape.

For a singer your voice is your instrument, so treat it like you would a priceless Stradivarius violin. Shouting, smoking, and overuse are just some of the ways the vocal cords can be damaged, limiting the range of notes you can hit and make your voice hoarse. It doesn’t matter if you’re a music producer, your band’s backing singer or a solo singer-songwriter, if you sing often pay attention to these five pieces of advice for vocalists.

Warm-up…

…and cool down! When you sing you exercise your vocal muscles just as you would your body when jogging. Therefore, to avoid strains and injuries, you’ve got to warm-up to get your voice ready for the pitch and dynamic ranges it’s about to be subjected to. Sing a pitch up and down gradually increasing your range – start with 5 notes. Humming and buzzing also help.

Equally, after using your voice at a high intensity, whether that be at band practise or in solo performance, it’s important to cool down your voice to lessen the shock of going from extreme use to silence.

Practise constantly

Keep your voice in use, don’t let yourself get rusty and run the risk of straining, particularly before a performance. Sing in short bursts throughout the day… Serenade the cat!

Does diet affect vocals?

A healthy body means healthy vocal cords. So drink a lot of water – little sips of room temperature water help to avoid friction on your vocal cords. If there’s any foods you’re sensitive to, such as spicy or acidic foods, try and avoid them in your diet.

Each singer is different but some vocalists always avoid dairy, which leave deposits on the vocal cords. Some people swear by herbal tea and honey, or gargling to soothe the voice.

If in doubt – don’t sing

Feeling under the weather? Got a sore throat? Don’t sing! You run the risk of damaging your voice by singing with a dry throat. That goes for talking at a harsh volume too – and whispering is actually one of the worst things you can do. If you’re whispering to someone you’re putting more strain on the voice as you tend to whisper louder trying to be heard.

If you absolutely have to sing, do it quietly making sure you’re using a good technique of posture and breath support, stick to your comfortable mid-range of voice, and try and avoid coughing.

Get into good habits

Be mindful of how you’re treating your voice when you’re not singing. Try to avoid clearing your throat – gargle water instead.

Getting lots of sleep, not smoking, and taking aerobic exercise to help to expand lung capacity are all things to bear in mind. Inhaling steam is also a good tip for a hoarse voice, keeping the vocal cords lubricated.

Singing should never hurt. For Mongolian throat singers and beyond, there’s plenty of advice for singers out there on the world wide web. As a starting point keep these five tips for vocal health in mind to keep your singing voice as healthy as possible.
I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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