How to take better care of your voice – musts for recording good vocals! Top two tips to avoid vocal fatigue and strain.
Part TWO by Rosanna D, VTN
Tip #2 – Vocal Habits to Fix
Picking up where we left off previously with my top two tips for protecting your voice. It’s actually a lot more than two tips, but I’ve grouped them into to sections: healthy habits and vocal habits. In this post we’ll talk about vocal habits. Basically this has to do with speaking naturally and gently. Being mindful about how you make all sounds, not just the singing sounds. English speakers have lots of bad habits that strain the voice. It’s a lot easier if your native language is Italian; that’s why they call it the language of singing. All the words are formed near your lips; no sounds are formed in the throat.
When you have a cold, try not to cough. If you cough as much as you want to, not only will you get really sore abs, and thus make it harder to sing period, you really hurt your vocal chords? Why? Coughing forces a lot of air past the chords at high pressure, without any gentleness. If you really want to ravage your vocal mechanism, give in to your urge to cough frequently. You will easily triple your vocal recovery time. Otherwise, suck on some good lozenges to help you resist the urge, especially when it gets itchy and you get a tickle. Personally, I never leave the house without a few Bentasil in my coin purse; this has been my favorite lozenge for two decades. Instead, invest a bit of extra time in getting rid of your cough. God bless salt, because salt water is so effective in getting rid of infections in the throat. Gargle some salt water every day, as a preventive measure. When you get a cold or cough, do it after every meal. I also use a neti-pot as a preventive measure. I have not had a single terrible case of congestion let alone a strep throat infection since I started with the neti pot in 2008. I know some doctors think it might cause you trouble, but for me it has been a lifesaver.
Be careful when singing glottals – Glottals are when your cords bang together mostly on words that start with vowels. You need to be gentle when initiating a word that starts with a vowel. One tip is to stick a little “H” at the front. But, you don’t want to be able to hear the H. The idea is that the air starts moving a bit before you make a sound; this prevents the damage from banging.
Raise your speaking pitch to a natural level – Most English speakers will talk at a pitch that is lower than they should, especially women who are, for example, trying not to sound like valley girls. How can you find your natural speaking pitch? Just sigh naturally, and then add a sound to it without thinking of the tone. The first pitch that comes out is closer to your natural speaking pitch. For example, I tend to speak at a G below middle C, but when I sigh and emit a tone, the tone that comes out is the D# above middle C!! Speaking too low pulls everything back down into the throat and puts more strain on your mechanism. Note that when you are speaking at a more natural pitch, your voice rings and resonates much more pleasantly, and sounds really attractive; try it and you’ll see what I mean, instantly! The ringing comes from the fact that when you are speaking a bit higher and more naturally, your soft palette raises, and thus you can access the resonance chamber of your pharynx (nose & head). Otherwise, you’re only getting your chest and mouth resonance instead of the full shabang.
Talk less, support your regular talking with breath, and don’t talk loudly! Does your opinion really matter in every situation? Keep your mouth shut when you can. Never, never shout to be heard in a loud place. Ouch! Stop screaming at your husband or kids. It isn’t worth it. It takes 2 days for me to recover from a 30 second blow up at my kids. Not worth it. They will be happier, too!
Before a recording session or a big show, I try not to speak very much unless it’s important, which is really hard for me because I’m a big mouth and think my opinions are really smart & matter a lot, ha ha. :) When you talk, be mindful of being gentle. Automatically your pitch will raise to its natural place, and you’ll be able to speak a lot longer without any strain.
Be sure to support your speech on the breath. This is something singers forget to do: your talking needs to ride on the breath wave also. I guarantee you’ll be able to speak and sing for a lot longer if you keep all your daily regular speech more gentle and supported by the breath. What does this mysterious singing language mean, this “support speech on the breath?” Well, it’s like this: before you say something, take a moment to breathe, and let the air start coming out of your mouth before you make sound. It doesn’t have to be an exhale, just an opening.
Top two tips for protecting your voice, part 2.
Thanks! Rosanna D
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The crew of the fictional Enterprise christening the American space shuttle, Enterprise.