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How to keep that voice of yours in tip top shape!

September 27, 2016

Taking care of your voice is the best way to avoid inflammation and injury. By following these voice Do's and Don'ts, they can help along the way to make sure you keep those off days at bay!

 

 

 

DO'S:

 

- Warm up and cool down. This includes a physical warm up of the face, neck and shoulders. The intrinsic muscles of your larynx deserve some care. You wouldn't sprint or run a marathon without a warm up and your voice deserves the same attention before a vocal work out.

- Ensure you keep well hydrated because the vocal folds produce sound easier when they’re lubricated with water. And by that, I mean AT LEAST 2 litres a day! Speech Therapist Ruth Epstein recommends sipping water slowly as opposed to gulping it down in one go. Drinking water last minute just before you’re about to sing won’t give it a chance to get into your system. Get into the habit of drinking water as soon as you wake up and you’ll be ready and raring to go! Yes, you'll probably pee more. But you'll sing better too.

- Keep a distance from people with respiratory infections. Just stay away. And if you're ill, stay away from others! Onstage kissing with laryngitis is NOT the one.

- Get into the habit of having a regular singing lessons. Training with a coach that knows your voice will ensure your technique is in tip top shape. They can also keep an extra ear out for any vocal issues.

- Sleep, sleep and more sleep. This is your body’s time to recover, so treat yourself! Have a lie in :)

- Eat a balanced diet full of protein, carbs and fats. You may find that certain foods have an negative effect on your voice. Things like tomato based sauces and fruit juices have a high acidic content so will encourage reflux. The acid burns the vocal folds causing inflammation which is death to sing on. You could try cutting the foods out and avoid eating too late into the evening. If you find you’re struggling with acid reflux, best to see your GP. But a sachet of Gaviscon will work wonders in the meanwhile!

 

DONT'S:

 

- Don't smoke and try to avoid second-hand smoke. It irritates the vocal folds, decreases lung capacity and efficiency and just generally makes you stink. If you’re a singer and you smoke, have some serious words with yourself!

- Avoid shouting and screaming. Think about those poor vocal folds clanging together! Ouchy.

- Avoid medications that dry you out, like decongestants. Check outhttp://www.ncvs.org/rx.html and type in your medication to see if it has an effect on your vocals. If it does, probably best to avoid singing if you're taking them.

- A lot of people cough and clear their throats when they are stressed, tired or dehydrated. If this is done too aggressively, it can also result in vocal cord damage. It is much better to try and relax your throat by swallowing and having sips of water instead.

- Don't whisper! If you’re doing it to save your voice, it’s actually not helping you. The vocal folds don't come together efficiently and this can cause tiredness and inflammation. You’re better off taking complete vocal rest.

- Avoid vocal fry. By this, I mean (cue Kim Kardashian) that rrrrrreally coool creaky way of talking like oh my gaaaddd there's a froggggg in my throat. It's caused by reducing the tension in the vocal folds, which results in a pulse like register with no particular note. Used occasionally in training to improve fold closure and help get rid of breathiness, it's fine. But constantly speaking like that is just going to make your voice super tired. It’s inefficient as your vocal cords aren’t working as they should.

 

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These are just a few of the things that you can do to make sure your voice is well looked after. The voice is one of those things that we take for granted, but as a professional voice user, you wouldn't be where you are without it! Science has moved on so far in recent years that it’s actually possible to MAKE new vocal folds. This operation actually costs hundreds of thousands of pounds so unless you’re expecting a massive windfall, the best way to take care of an injury is to make sure if never happens in the first place!

 

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