As a singer, your vocal cords are your prized possessions. If your vocal cords are healthy, you will be able to produce a full, clear, and melodic sound. As long as you want a career in singing, it is imperative for you to take care of your singing voice and keep your vocal cords healthy and in tune.
When things go wrong, it is quite easy for guitarists to replace a broken string or for drummers to change an old drum head for a new one. Singers have only one voice for all their lives. That is why they must keep their voices in top shape, no matter at what stage they are in their careers.
What are vocal cords?
The vocal cords, also known as vocal folds, are two tissues located at the top of the windpipe. These tissues are open as you breathe. When you talk or sing, they compress, squeezing tighter for higher notes and remaining loosened for lower notes.
If you are a singer, your vocal cords should be your baby that you protect at all times. Allergies, stress, smoke from cigarettes, dehydration, and even stress can be potentially harmful to your singing voice. Therefore, taking care of your voice becomes essential.
Want to know how to take care of your voice? Keep reading. This article will provide you with tips to keep your voice healthy.
Here are some tips to keep your voice healthy so you know how to take care of your voice and sing at your best:
A sufficiently hydrated body is like a well-oiled machine, each part functions smoothly. Vocal cords are made of muscle tissue that vibrates to produce sound. They need to stay flexible and lubricated.
Experts recommend that you drink at least eight glasses (about two litres) of water throughout the day. Try to spread your water intake as evenly as possible as it takes some time for the vocal cords to be hydrated. You can carry a water bottle along to avoid having too long of a break.
Many singers prefer drinking warm water, sometimes also adding honey and lemon in the mix. However, room temperature water works just fine. If the water is too hot or too cold, it could do more harm than good by shocking the voice.
There are other ways to hydrate too. Inhaling steam and using a room humidifier could be very helpful as dry surroundings tend to accelerate dehydration.
Water is going to be your best-friend and help you keep your singing voice healthy.
#2. Avoid trigger foods to avoid harm to your voice
When it comes to taking care of your voice, it is best to stay clear of foods that could hurt your vocal ability. We all know how important a balanced diet is. What we eat and drink should be consistent with our goals.
Some foods cause excess mucus or phlegm production while some may cause acidity, thus directly impacting your singing. Indulge in moderation if you cannot do away with them entirely (it’s hard, we understand). A few common trigger foods are:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, paneer etc.)
- Chocolate and sweets
- Fried and oily foods
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus fruits etc.)
- Ice cream
#3. Curb your vices and strengthen your voice
Being a singer or a musician is nothing short of a lifestyle. It is tempting to go for a quick cigarette break or drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages to take the edge off. Resist the temptation to smoke or drink to do justice to your voice. No matter how strong the desire, do not give in. Taking care of your voice should be your top priority.
The risks of smoking on overall health are well-known. There are many reasons for singers to not smoke or to quit the habit. Smoking reduces your lung capacity and also irritates your vocal cords, thus drying them out. If you want to know how to take care of your voice, the first thing you should do is quit smoking or never start if you do not smoke.
- The smoke can also trigger stomach acid to make its way to your throat (acid reflux). On top of that, there is the notorious smoker’s cough which is a result of harmful tar coating the insides of your lungs. Any short-term pleasure is not worth the reduced vocal range and endurance.
- Avoid circumstances where you might feel compelled to smoke.
- Spend your spare time in places where smoking is not permitted. Doing so, your temptation will cease to exist.
- Think about the benefits your singing voice will get if you do not smoke.
- If your temptation seems too difficult to fight, you can create or join a support group.
- Exercise! It helps take your mind off the temptation.
Alcohol and caffeine harms your voice!
Alcohol and caffeine on the other hand are not as damaging as smoking. They are both diuretics, meaning that they negatively affect hydration. However, studies reveal that consumption of caffeine in low to moderate doses may not be as problematic.
So, it is okay to enjoy your morning cup of coffee without worrying too much. Excess drinking or caffeine intake can also cause acid reflux.
Substitutes for alcohol and caffeine:
- Natural juices: When taken in moderation, natural juices can be beneficial to your singing voice. Avoid drinking too much juice as the excess of sugar and acids might be too much for your vocal cords.
- Tea: Hot tea without milk is an excellent choice for clearing the phlegm from your throat. Do not consume it while it’s sizzling hot. You can drink green tea, oolong, and decaffeinated pekoe.
- Water: The benefits of water are talked about and known to everyone. It is the best substitute for a singer. It keeps you hydrated allowing you to sing tunefully.
Practicing and performing can take a toll on your mind and body. That is why a good night’s sleep is essential for singers at all stages in their careers. Sometimes there might be no option except pulling an all- nighter, but do not let it be a habit as effects of sleep deprivation show in your voice.
- Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your voice fresh. Lack of sound sleep also compromises your immune system.
- Try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day to create a healthy sleep cycle.
- Avoid using electronics such as your mobile phones, computers, and laptops at least an hour before bedtime.
- Listening to relaxing music or delta waves might help you get a good night’s sleep quicker.
- Read something relaxing or even a little boring just before sleeping to make you feel drowsy and asleep in no time.
- Keep a glass of water right next to you in case you feel thirsty. This will not allow dehydration to ruin your sleep.
#4. Slow and steady
Treat your vocal cords like how you would treat your muscles at the gym. It would make little sense to lift heavy weights explosively on your very first day so why do the same to your voice by putting strain on it?
Try to set up a regular singing practice schedule that is consistent with your current skill level and your future goals. Make sure that you start each session with a vocal warm up. An often overlooked training routine is the cool down, which is akin to muscle stretching after a gym workout.
Cool downs help your vocal muscles relax once you are done singing.
#5. Use your voice wisely
One of the most important tips to keep your voice healthy is to use your voice judiciously. Do not take your voice for granted. As a singer, your voice is everything you got and therefore, you do not want to overuse it or upset your vocal cords. You might want to avoid stressing your voice to deliver a mellifluous performance.
- Your voice is put under extra strain while you’re sick. Thus, rest your voice when you are feeling unwell.
- Avoid yelling or whispering at the top and bottom of your vocal range. Your singing voice can be stressed by speaking too loudly or too softly.
- When singing or speaking, it is advised to use proper breathing techniques.
- Avoid talking in a noisy environment as trying to speak over background noises may put a strain on your voice.
- Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is rough or tired.
#6. Seek professional assistance
Proper guidance goes a long way when it comes to protecting your voice. A vocal coach or a music teacher can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and recommend personalised training routines to take your singing ability to the next level.
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For in-depth tips, do sign up for Monali Thakur’s unluclass. In this online singing class, Monali shares her insights on practice routines and protecting your voice. Check our website for more information if you want to learn singing online. Happy learning!