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Tips for Singers: How to Look After Your Voice

Make sure your vocals are always at their best with these tips to look after your voice. Just like an athlete looks after their muscles, a singer must look after their vocal chords.

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As any singer knows, your voice is a precious instrument that needs to be taken care of. It is a finely tuned instrument that can be degraded and broken. It is your responsibility to ensure that it stays healthy and at optimal performing capabilities.

We are going to show you how to protect your voice, and develop healthy life-long habits along the way.

Warming Up

Can you imagine an athlete running a marathon without first warming up his muscles? No? Why not? His muscles would seize up, or impact his performance or cause a painful injury. What are the similarities between that athlete and a singer?

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A singer must also warm up their vocal cords before singing. Whether practicing or performing, it doesn’t matter. If you’re about to open your mouth to sing, you need to warm up your vocal cords with a few simple warm-up exercises. This does not include singing along to the radio on your way to a performance, since most popular songs don’t have good range.

Hydration

Vocal cords are folded together and vibrate against each other to produce sound; to go about this properly they need to be well lubricated.

A singer will need to drink water regularly to stay hydrated; ideally you should begin taking in water about 30 minutes before you begin signing. You should drink enough water to let your urine run clear. Humidifiers are also a wise investment if you live in an area with a dry climate.

Sleep

A singer needs to be well rested before an audition or performance. If you are tired then your voice will reflect that and it could lead to strain or injury. Be sure to always get your full 8 hours of sleep.

Smoking

Many singers like smoking before a performance to give their voice a “husky” quality. Don’t do this. Smoking is not healthy and that huskiness will shorten the lifespan of your vocal cords.

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Another important tool in a singer’s arsenal is their lungs. A healthy set of lungs is an incredible asset; why would you need to go and damage that by smoking? Smoking also dries out your vocal cords and throat; this includes second hand smoke, so avoid it at all costs.

Smoking leads to a plethora of dangerous conditions; don’t waste your talent on something that is killing you.

Caffeine and Carbonation

Caffeine and carbonation acts a diuretic which means that you release more liquid in your urine, leading to mild dehydration. Carbonated drinks also give off excess gas which could be potentially humiliating or affect your singing ability.

Foods

Certain foods might upset your stomach during a performance, or cause gastric reflux. This is when acid rises from the stomach, and this could damage your vocal cords. Dairy also produces phlegm, which affects your singing ability.

Dust

Dust can set off allergies which are not healthy for your vocal cords. You want to ensure that your house is essentially dust free to prevent the worst from happening. Dust comprises many elements, and can be home to dust mites, which are the world’s leading cause of asthma.

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Clean your house as often as possible, and vacuum just as frequently. Dust isn’t reliant on how clean your house is though; it also depends on the climate and other factors.

Noise Pollution and Environmental Irritants

Many people put unnecessary strain on their voice when trying to compete with noise pollution. If you can, use sound amps or find a quieter place to practice. You also need to try and avoid places with second-hand smoke, dust or smog, which can cause you to develop a cough.

We’ve got a great guide to soundproofing, if you’re having problems with noise. You can soundproof your windows and even doors.

Singing When Sick

It is not a good idea to sing while you’re sick, but modern medicine can provide a temporary solution if it is absolutely necessary for you to sing. However, once the performance is over, you need to rest. But if you have a more serious illness like laryngitis or any sort of infection, you will need to cancel the performance, otherwise you might never have a career.

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If you have a minor illness, then a cough drop, throat lozenge or cough suppressant might be able to do the trick. You first might want to check with a doctor, just to make sure that you’re not in any danger. As a singer, you should not take any medicine with analgesics, which can be hazardous to your voice.

Fatigue, Strain or Injury

If you are suffering from vocal fatigue, you will notice a ‘cracked’ voice which might also mean that you’re dehydrated. Your throat will also hurt and strained. Vocal fatigue results in the inability to speak or sing for extended periods of time. If your voice is fatigued you will need sufficient rest.

While injuries are also common among singers, it is important to look out for a change in voice quality and a continued hoarseness. It is common to develop vocal lesions, fold polyps, fold cysts and nodes, and in each case, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

These injuries are a result of strain, excessive use or singing when sick. They result in vocal unreliability, vocal fatigue, a hoarse voice, excessive throat clearing etc. It is important to remember that no performance is worth losing your voice—if you’re sick avoid singing.

It is common among untrained singers to try and push their voice, but this can lead to sad and painful consequences that just aren’t worth it.


Conclusion

It might take a little effort and sacrifice, but a beautiful singing voice is a gift that many would kill for. If you’re talented enough to have a notable singing voice, you need to take the utmost care of that gift. Doing so means cultivating good habits and taking special care of your health. Protect your singing voice. Protecting your voice as a singer means taking care of your body too.

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