May 2nd, 2009 by Jeff Anthony

Top 4 Tips To Great Vocal Health

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1. Keep Drinking! – Hydration

Now I don’t mean beer or alcohol (I’ll tell you why in a minute) but good old H20 otherwise known as water. Proper hydration is one of the most important tips that I can offer to you to maintain and improve vocal health. Vocal chords or folds need to be lubricated with a thin layer of mucus to vibrate correctly. It would be like driving your car on a long road trip without using oil to lubricate the pistons. After a while your voice like your car will just shut down on you. Now back to beer and other alcohol. I would suggest you avoid these as much as possible because they will dehydrate you. If you do drink please be mindful that you will need to drink more water to counteract the drying effects of the alcohol.   Be aware as well that any caffeinated beverage especially coffee and tea will sap you of water. I once read that for every 8 oz cup of coffee you drink you lose that much in water So once again practice moderation and drink additional water to compensate. Some doctors recommend at least 2 quarts of water per day, others would say drink more depending on the conditions like say in a dry environment or when you are exercising. Not to be graphic but if you are properly hydrated your urine will be pale to clear so if you notice dark urine than this is a most obvious sign of dehydration. The drying effects of dry forced air in the winter can also dry your vocal chords so I recommend using a humidifier. Some singers like to use a throat spray to help lubricate their larynx before performing or when going into dry environments like smoky bars.  One that is widely marketed is the Entertainers Secret but there are others out there as well that are geared toward entertainers.

female-vocalist2. Feeling hot, hot, hot. Warm up (and cool down)

Whether you are a singer, actor, teacher, salesman, coach or public speaker, anybody who uses his or her voice for a living, which is most of us, can benefit from a proper warm up. This helps to get the vocal folds lubricated and ready for the work at hand. It will give you a more reliable instrument and if done correctly will also help prevent hoarseness resulting from miss use if you use proper breath support. The lip trill or bubble roll is one of the most therapeutic warm ups that I have found. It creates lubrication in the vocal chords and is perfect for those who have limited time for a full warm up exercise. It is done by relaxing your face and neck and releasing air through vibrating lips. Think of the sound that you make when imitating a horse. Cool down after performing with some light bubbles or lip trills and this will help prevent swelling and hoarseness that often results from hard singing, especially of the hard rock variety.

tense-vocalist3. Chill- Relaxed Muscles

Try to keep your facial muscles relaxed while vocalizing and practice this daily. By controlling our facial and neck muscles we allow our voice the freedom to go to new heights. Most problems with limited range are the result of tension in the body. Stretching and massage are good ways to release the muscles in the neck and shoulders. Keep in mind that these muscles have a domino effect on the rest of the body. If these muscles are tense than you can bet others are as well including the vocal chords. Make posture-training part of your vocal training regimen. The benefits can be far reaching.

sleep4. Get your zzzz’s. Rest

Sleep is when the body repairs itself so make sure to get the proper amount of rest to aid in vocal recovery and maintain mental clarity so you can be your best. Limit talking a lot in loud bars especially leading up to performance. If you have to yell to be heard you may be hoarse before you even hit the stage.   When at work don’t talk louder than you need to before a show as that can too make you horse.  If you have trouble sleeping there is a great product called the Pizizz that will help you get that quick recharge nap or get a peaceful sleep at night.

Until next time here is to great vocal health and success in all your music endeavors.

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