How to take better care of your voice – musts for recording good vocals! Top two tips to avoid vocal fatigue and strain.
Part One by Rosanna D, VTN
You’ve heard of famous singers having trouble with their voices, and getting surgery for “nodes” etc. Our top two tips can help you avoid this. Look at Julie Andrews, now unable to sing, boo hoo! Singing hard every day is really hard on your delicate vocal mechanism. You need rest. But our culture pushes and pushes us, and once you get ahead, or a good booking, it’s hard to stop to rest, lest you lose money and momentum. Hence singers end up overusing their voices and causing some trouble, especially rock singers and belters. It’s a bit different for opera singers, but they still get overuse issues too.
How do you know you have a vocal problem? Hoarseness that doesn’t go away. Colds and sludge in the throat that doesn’t seem to go away, like a lump in the throat. Pain in your throat. Coughs. Limitations in your range, upper or lower. Feelings of thinness in the voice.
Tip #1 Healthy Living Habits
Yep, this is a hard one for the professional musician. Late nights, rough crowd, drug /alcohol abuse, not enough time for exercise, or never making it a priority, heavy food in the middle of the night when you get the munchies. All these cause strain for your body which contributes to vocal fatigue and strain.
You need enough sleep. Full-time singers should be sleeping for 8 hours a night. You’d be surprised at how quickly a lack of sleep shows up in your voice. If you’re only sleeping 5-6 hours a night, this is not enough to keep your pipes from getting injured.
Uh, no smoking! Do I really need to elaborate on the physiological consequences, in this day and age? ‘Nuff said. Smoking is a disgusting, stinky habit. If you’re a singer, this has gotta go.
Cut down on your drinking Musicians are notorious lushes. A little is fine, but drinking every day is a strain on your immune system and the toll is immediately clear on your vocal health. It’s like the fine little systems are more sensitive to our bad habits. Basically, don’t drink every day. Save your beer or two for the night before your day off. You shouldn’t for sure have sugary, yeasty drinks every day. It’s just too much for the body to process.
Eat good, nutritious meals at regular times. Pack a healthy snack for late night munchies instead of chomping on a burger at the nearest all-night drive through.Watch for foods which cause a mild allergic reaction in your body; avoid these. So, even if you’re not deathly allergic to peanuts or shellfish, you still might be sensitive to other foods. If you get a slightly plugged nose when you eat pasta, or milk/cheese, you should cut out dairy and gluten. If you kind of have a bit of a sore throat the day after drinking too much beer, wine or eating sweets, limit your intake of booze and desserts. Instead of a beer, have a shot of something without sugar and yeast, like a couple ounces of a nice vodka. Why? It’s hard work for your body to process foods that it is mildly allergic too; eliminate these foods and you’ll see an overall boost in your immune system and clarity, and this is of course instantly and easily heard in your vocal quality and endurance.
Set up a realistic exercise schedule that you can keep. You don’t need to take ballet barre classes or run a marathon; just get out on your bike, take a walk, ride a stationary bike, do some stretching on your balcony. Do it 30 mins a day 5 days a week. Exercise cleans your body and makes you strong; when your body is strong and clean, your vocal mechanism is also stronger and cleaner.
RIP Chancellor Spock! Live long & prosper. We miss you!