Tips for Maintaining Vocal Health - dummies

Tips for Maintaining Vocal Health

By Pamelia S. Phillips

Long-term vocal abuse — any activity that causes strain on your voice and impairs your vocal health — can change the quality of your singing. And your voice may not always be able to repair itself. Although most singers can minimize long-term problems with vocal rest, you need to avoid continued vocal abuse. Make your vocal health a priority now.

Staying hydrated for vocal health

Your body is 50 to 65 percent water, and two important components of your singing ability — your lungs and your muscles — need water to do their job. Your lungs depend on water to keep the tissue moving easily, and muscle tissue is made up of 75 percent water. So keeping your body well hydrated helps your singing voice work better.

You can balance out your hydration with liquids other than water. Before you drink that can of soda or cup of coffee, though, realize that the sugar content in most drinks threatens your waistline and that caffeine dries you out. Caffeine also is a diuretic, which means that it makes your body get rid of water.

You can’t rely on that morning cup of coffee to keep your voice in good working order. Performing requires physical stamina, and a well-hydrated body keeps the body functioning at its best.

Getting plenty of sleep for vocal health

Not getting enough sleep doesn’t give the tissue in your body — in your throat — time to heal. Depriving yourself of sleep only makes your voice feel sluggish. If you’re sleep deprived, your voice and brain react more slowly, making it harder to sing your best.

Singing longer phrases takes more effort, your voice feels heavy instead of agile when you sing the faster notes, and forgetting the next word is more likely. You may survive on just a few hours sleep at night, but is your voice also just surviving?

You want your voice to thrive, not just survive. Try getting more sleep for a few nights and see whether that makes a difference in your singing. Even one more hour can make a big difference to your tissues. You want to recoup and regenerate during the night.

Staying well-nourished for vocal health

You need to maintain a balanced diet. Following guidelines of basic nutrition means getting a balanced amount of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and protein. Within this balanced diet, you find proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. You may find that singing requires more energy, which means adding protein to your diet to enhance your body’s ability to sustain you through long rehearsals.

Though it may not be your personal issue, a body that is too lean or too heavy may have trouble finding the stamina to sing and sustain the higher pitches. Make sure that you’re regularly nourishing your body for stamina.

Many singers wait until late in the day to eat, but your body needs something to get it started. Try to find a routine that enables you to get food in your body early in the day so you aren’t snacking well into the night when your body finally feels hungry.

Eat breakfast to get your body nourished right away, and don’t eat a huge dinner after your evening performance. Eat a small meal before the performance, and a snack — not a huge meal — afterward. Eating a huge meal late at night will encourage acid reflux problems.