A healthy voice is a happy voice! As a singer, the need to take proper care of your voice might seem like a given. So what should you do to keep your voice happy and healthy?
Interestingly enough, keeping your singing voice in working order requires taking care of your entire body. While knowing how and when to vocalize is important to vocal care, sleep habits, exercise, and diet play a huge role in your vocal health and ability too.
We’ve covered how to prepare for a vocal performance; now let’s dive into how to keep your voice happy as a singer in everyday life.
Go to sleep.
If your voice ever sounds “croaky” or rougher than usual, lack of sleep is likely the culprit. Our bodies have an amazing ability to reset and regroup as long as we allow them time to do so. Sleep is an important function of that resetting process. When it comes to singing, allowing your body to get enough sleep can do several things for you:
It allows your vocal cords to heal.
Your vocal folds or vocal cords are muscles. Whenever you use them to sing, you’re essentially giving them a workout. In the same way that you’d need to rest your other body muscles after exercise, sleep allows your vocal cords to regenerate their cells.
It gives you more energy.
When you’re well-rested and have more energy, you’re more likely to remember all of the proper techniques for singing and vocalization. When you’re fatigued, you’re more likely to forget those things (such as proper breathing, singing from your diaphragm, and correct posture) and injure your vocal folds.
Additionally, if you’re tired, you may be tempted to reach for coffee or some other caffeine containing food or drink. As we covered in our performance prep post, caffeine will only serve to dry your vocal folds and create even more problems.
When I was in college, I took a beginner vocalist class and I loved it. I was reminded of fundamentals I’d learned (and partially forgotten) with my first vocal coach from years before. One of those fundamentals was how stretching and exercise affect the body and the voice. My professor deemed this so important that we literally had one class where all we did was yoga.
So how exactly do stretching and exercise impact your singing?
Exercise helps improve your breathing and stamina.
Stick with a good vocal instructor for long enough, and I guarantee at some point you’ll have to work on proper breathing. Proper air intake, management, and control are essential to singing properly and singing well.
When you engage in regular cardiovascular exercise or “cardio,” you’re helping both your heart and your lungs by increasing your stamina. This increase in stamina will come in handy when you have a long note to hold, need to stay on pitch, or have a lengthy song to perform.
Additionally, engaging in yoga can help improve your breathing technique and breath management. Yoga can also help you maintain proper posture and strengthen your core muscles. Both of these are essential to proper breathing and projection while singing.
Exercise makes for a healthier, more energetic you.
Similar to the way that sleep affects your whole body – voice included – exercise provides benefits for your whole system as well. When you exercise regularly, you’re likely to have more energy and be more alert than if you were mostly sedentary.
Additionally, if you ever find yourself in a situation where your voice needs to rest and recover, having a lifestyle incorporating exercise will help your body to repair the issue more quickly.
Stretch your body before singing to relax.
Your entire physical body is worked when you sing properly. If there is any tension in it before you start to sing, it will show up in your performance.
Stretches like shoulder rolls, neck stretches, and toe touches can help release tight muscles and get you ready to rock and roll.
Fuel & hydrate your body.
What you put in your body affects every part of you – including your voice. In addition to our last post, here are some things to incorporate into your eating and drinking habits to improve your vocal health and quality:
- Keep up your energy with healthy energy boosting foods and snacks like almonds, grilled or roast chicken, leafy veggies, fresh fruit, and green juices.
- Hydrate your body by drinking lots of water every day – especially when you know you have to sing.
- Avoid vocally drying substances like caffeine and alcohol.
- Cut out smoking.
- Avoid overly oily (fried) or spicy foods as well as dairy, ice cold foods.
- Hydrate with water-rich fruits like watermelon, strawberries, pineapples, and oranges.
- Hydrate with water rich veggies like cucumber, celery, or spinach.
When your body has the right kinds of food and hydration, your brain functions better, your body feels better, and your vocal cords are happier. All of these will contribute to you having a much higher quality and more enjoyable singing experience.
Protect your voice.
Remember that you only have one voice, and if you injure it by vocalizing improperly, the damage could be permanent. Instead, take care of your voice by practicing these things:
- Sing with support from your diaphragm instead of singing from your throat.
- If your vocal cords are in pain or sound fatigued, go on vocal rest immediately. Avoid both talking and singing until they have had time to heal.
- Avoid yelling, shouting, or vocal “belting” for long periods of time. If you do engage in any of these, be sure to make it brief and rest your voice soon afterwards.
- Always warm up and cool down before singing.
Additionally, with the change in seasons comes a change in weather. As we enter cooler months, remember to bundle up and cover your chest and neck (especially with a scarf) to make sure your vocal cords and body remain in top shape for singing.
To sum things up, taking care of your body is taking care of your voice. Hopefully the tips above will help you to maintain your voice in a healthy state for years to come!
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