How to Protect Your Singing/Speaking Voice/Advice from a Vocal Coach

Protecting Your Singing or Speaking Voice

In a place called Nashville, everyone is interested in protecting his or her singing voice. Who better to ask than someone who has been teaching voice for 30 years. (Yes, I’m that old.)

First, spring is in the air. I have one word for you–well two words: Netti Pot. If you haven’t gotten one, you need to. They are the ultimate prophylactic helper in times when nasal drainage is stomping on your singing or speaking voice. Pollen causes histamine reaction in the body. Histamine causes a flood of extra mucous to appear in the nasal and chest cavities. You can get rid of it with the netti pot (at least in the nasal cavity) before it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and gives you more reason to fret.

Second, steam is a great way to keep your throat healthy. If you don’t have a personal steamer, Walgreens sells them. They are great. They act like a personal facial. You put your face on it (basically nose and mouth and take deep breaths for 10 minutes-breathing in very hot steam). This will kill any nasties in the throat and rejuvenate any dry areas in the throat and nose. Dryness can also be a breeding ground for sickness.

Third, don’t smoke or be around cigarettes. If you are a singer who smokes, you are just being foolish. Eventually you will sound like a warbling old person, and, of course, will probably get lung cancer. But if you’re thinking about your singing voice, it’s not helping. It is causing those histamines to collect and mucous to build up. That’s why you wake up hacking every morning.

Fourth, warm up before you sing. The vocal chords, the pharyngeal pillars (the mechanism the closes the fold of the vocal chords), the soft palate, the intercostal muscles (that push the breath out), and the epiglotis (the steering mechanism that takes the sound either to the head or chest chamber) are all muscles that need warming before the body feels safe to give you its best.

If you don’t have a vocal coach that can give you a good warm up, get one. I have a warm-up on CD or MP3 you can get for a small amount of money or come in to my studio to get one that is designed for you. But get one. You need it for your health.

Fifth, warm down after a long performance. You’ve seen runners stretching after a long run. It’s the same thing here. You have to hum and do something physically strenuous at the same time for about 5 minutes to give the body and vocal mechanism a chance to settle.

All that being said, I hope you sing your best and share your light with the world. Remember: vocal health is not about becoming an opera singer. It’s about learning the difference between harming or helping yourself to your authentic sound!


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