Prevention is Better Than Cure

As a singer, it is important to take care of your voice. You have the most unique instrument in the world, having it requires certain disciplines to ensure it is kept in pristine condition. Unlike any other instrument, you can’t go out and buy a new one if something were to happen to it. It is better to avoid, fatigue, strain and injury. I say that ‘prevention is far better than cure’. So here are just a few tips to help you maintain good vocal health, and keep your voice functioning at its best.

DRINK WATER: Yes this may be the most obvious one, but I am putting this right at the top because it is one of the most important daily ‘must do’s’ for a singer. Your vocal cords vibrate at a ridiculous speed per second when talking or singing. In order for your vocal cords to vibrate freely, they need to be well lubricated. The best lubrication is achieved by drinking plenty of water. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a dayDAIRY: Reduce your intake of dairy products. Dairy products can create excessive mucus production in your throat which can lead to throat clearing. While you don’t need to be as extreme as completely avoiding dairy products, I would say to avoid dairy as much as possible and especially close to a performance.

THROAT CLEARING: Try not to excessively clear your throat. Throat clearing can be traumatic to the voice because it brings the vocal cords together forcefully, thus risking damage to the vocal cords surfaces. One of the most frequent causes of throat clearing and even coughing is thick mucus (due to dry vocal cords), or too much mucus (due to a flu or cold). In many cases throat clearing can also be a bad habit which just needs to be replaced with a good habit. Try swallowing silently or taking a sip of water whenever you feel the need to clear your throat…It just may help you!

COFFEE, TEA, ALCOHOL ETC: Caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee and soft drinks can be harmful to the voice when consumed in excess. Caffeine and alcohol pull water out of your system and deplete the vocal cords of needed lubrication. Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t have a nice cuppa tea, coffee or an alcoholic beverage. Just don’t consume excessively. I must admit…I do love a good coffee! ;)

DUSTY & DRY ATMOSPHERES: Dusty and dry atmosphere’s can affect the mucus membranes’ lining in the vocal tract which could potentially result in the throat and vocal cords becoming dry and inflamed…In the words of Sweet Brown, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that!!’

BAD FOODS: Dairy products, spicy foods, high fat foods and salt… All bad, very bad! I love spicy Nandos chicken!  On a serious note though, all of these foods can have negative effects on the vocal cords which can result in acid reflux or dryness/dehydration of the vocal cords.

SLEEP, EXERCISES, DIET: Unfortunately, because your instrument is part of your body, everything that affects your body will affect your voice. If you are lacking in sleep, exercise and healthy dieting (not eating enough healthy foods that are good for your body), it will show up in your voice. This may increase the likelihood of injuring your voice. Especially if you are a singer constantly on the road, doing performance after performance. Your lifestyle habits really do matter!

WARMING UP & WARMING DOWN: There are many muscles involved in singing. They need to coordinate and move together in order to ensure a good vocal function. These muscles need to be warmed up before singing. By warming up, we are helping these muscles to become coordinated, pliable, reactive and impact resistant. This helps prevent vocal injury. A good warm-up for the voice will consist of a physical warm-up and a vocal warm-up. There is actually a great article about warming up by ‘Chris Johnson and Steve Giles’ in issue 1 of the ‘iSing Magazine’ It is a great read! As well as warming up, a warm down can also be very beneficial for your voice, especially after a big performance or rehearsal. Warm downs can help to release excessive muscle tension that may have accumulated during a vocally demanding performance. 

That's it from me! I hope this helps! :)