You find most people striving hard to ensure good physical and mental health. Vocal health is, most often, overlooked. Only actors or singers make that effort to ensure good vocal health. As said, your voice acts as your ambassador to the world outside. This can portray your emotions and personality. The assessments of you made by people depend on your voice, to a large extent. It is important to understand how you sound when you are singing or speaking. Any problem with your voice can impact your life.
Here are some tips to help you maintain your vocal health.
1. Training your voice like an Athlete:
Before you make an attempt to sing, you need to learn the proper technique. You can join some classes or take lessons from professional singers. A balanced diet makes a difference not only to your physical and mental health, but also to your vocal health. You also need to ensure enough rest.
Singers are considered as vocal gymnasts. They can traverse the artistic range with flexibility and ease. Similar to gymnasts, professional singers need to be disciplined to a high level. They need to give time perfecting their singing.
You need to be aware that if for a singer, the vocal cords are an instrument. Make sure you do not abuse your voice. Healthy and well maintained vocal cords can help you in exercising your full range and produce a pure, full, tuneful sound.
2. Pacing yourself:
During an audition lined up or even a show, it is important to pace yourself and your voice. You need to schedule some time every day to exercise your vocal cords. This cannot be done in a day. This gradual practicing of singing can build stamina and muscular skill. Gradually you need to increase the time you practice singing.
3. Warming Up – Cooling down:
It is important to warm up your voice before singing. There are different exercises for different ages, levels of experience and vocal ranges. Before you start exercising, you need to warm up the facial muscles. Blow through your lips to loosen the jaw muscles and the lips. Stick out the tongue as far as possible and massage your face, sighing hastily.
Let the voice wander up and down in its range. You can make noise when exercising as this is for the good health of the vocal cords. You can then start humming, or do tongue trills or lip rolls. Should start singing the actual notes only after you feel the loosening of the mouth, face and voice. This total process should take around 10 to 20 minutes. It is important not to rush this.
After the audition is over, take time to cool down. This is a simple way that supports the vocal health. You should sigh on a descending note. Yawning can release any built-up tension. Gentle lip rolls can help in allowing the voice to descend. It takes 5 to 10 minutes for the voice to get back to the normal range of speaking. This is important for maintaining your vocal health.
4. Avoid Phonotraumatic Behavior:
Phonotraumatic behavior is when you scream, yell, talk loudly, or even sing loudly. The vocal folds bang together when you are loud. This is similar to clapping your hands hard and loud. After a short period of doing this, the vocal cords react to the impact. They get red and inflamed. Phonotrauma on a long term basis leads to changes in the vocal folds, like the vocal nodules.
5. Voice Hydration:
Water is the safest and healthiest drink when you are looking for maintaining your vocal health. This is also beneficial for the overall health. You can also opt for herbal teas.
Make sure you drink water throughout the day and carry a water bottle when you go for your rehearsals. Vocal folds need to be well lubricated and a sip or two of water is not enough.
Moistening your vocal cords directly is not possible. Nothing you spray or drink or even dissolve in the mouth, passes directly over the vocal folds. The larynx is separate from esophagus. Vocal cords can get irritated easily when dry. This is harmful to the voice. Your voice can improve by drinking more water. You can also choose to consume fruits that have a high content of water. Maintaining vocal health is not a big problem.
6. Humidify the Surroundings:
Breathing humidified air makes a big difference to the voice. As mentioned, nothing you drink can directly moisturize the vocal cords, but breathing air that is humidified does make a difference. It is a known fact that dry air is taxing for your breathing and also your voice.
You can plan on using a humidifier for your home if you practice singing at home. This supports the respiratory health and also prevents the vocal folds from drying. This is an apt answer to how to maintain your vocal health.
7. Avoid Harmful Substances:
Your voice can be ruined permanently if you are a smoker. If you are into this, make sure to quit immediately. You need to be aware that you are bathing your vocal cords in toxins when you smoke. Every pollutant, dust, toxins or pollen passes over the vocal cords. This leads to dryness and irritation.
Alcohol might not irritate your vocal cords in the same manner but this can lead to inflammation and dryness. Your voice can be ruined also due to the high content of sugar present in alcohol.
8. Do not sing from your Throat:
The vocal folds are only a part of the system that produces your voice. To maintain your vocal health and sing well, you need to have a clear understanding of your body and know where the voice comes from. Try to avoid singing from your throat- the power of your voice comes from your breath. This breath needs to be supported by the diaphragm. You need to concentrate on singing from your core and allow the vocal cords to relax. The voice needs to resonate in the chest, pharynx and face.
This might not be possible as training your body takes time. You have the choice of seeking help from a vocal coach.
9. Don’t Sing if in Pain:
When your body wants to tell you to STOP, you experience pain. In case you have an infection or even if the throat hurt, you have strained your voice in some way, do not sing. Give some rest to your throat and relax. You need to know singing, when you experience throat pain, can damage your voice and also singing.
10. Don’t Clear your Throat Often:
Clearing your throat too often is problematic. This can lead to swelling and irritation. This brings more mucous and saliva to the throat, leading to more clearing. When you clear your throat, it works like slamming the vocal cords together.
When you need to clear your throat, you can try swallowing hard, coughing only once, or even sipping some water.
11. Optimizing the Environment:
Adjust the environment where your voice is used. You need to either decrease or increase the absorbent materials used for modifying the acoustics of the environment. This is way to maintain your vocal health.
You also need to reduce or control the ambient noises around or in that area. Make sure there is enough ventilation and humidity in the area.
12. Work on your Diet:
Besides concentrating on a balanced diet, you need to ensure that you avoid spicy and acidic foods. Try to keep away from dairy food also. Maintaining vocal health can get easy if you avoid mint and caffeine.
Tips to follow when Voice is complaining
Your voice does complain if this is not used in the right manner or you have been lax in maintaining vocal health. You either have a sore throat or your voice sounds strained. Here are few tips to follow in this situation.
a) Try decreasing the levels of voice use. For vocal projection you need to use amplification. Take voice rest, also known as ‘voice naps’.
b) Modify the singing and speaking voice. Ensure you do not shout or scream. Warming up before using your voice, is helpful. During speaking try using breathy, soft vocal quality. Use good support of the breath when you sing or speak. Make sure your nose and mouth are covered during winters.
Maintaining your vocal health offers confidence. This is beneficial if you are singer or even a public speaker. Your voice is clear and not loud or irritating. You are understood better and your performance is well appreciated. All you need is patience and dedication to ensure you take the trouble of maintaining your vocal health.
Practice breathing techniques and talk softly to ensure vocal health. You also need to ensure rest for your voice. Finally, good eating habits and hydration can work wonders for vocal health.