With so many artists seeking advice and consultation for vocal problems, I thought it would be prudent to give you my 10 top tips for looking after your voice, preventing damage, and keeping it at optimum health. Here is Part I.
1. Drink Drink Drink
This is without doubt the most important aspect of good vocal health. You should be drinking as much as 2 L of water a day and remember that it can take up to 4 hours for the effect of water to benefit your vocal folds. Whilst water is probably the best drink for your throat, there are plenty of other alternatives including squash, decaffeinated tea and some juices in moderation.
2. Take a rest
Remember it’s not how much you sing but how you are singing that is important. Regular rest is hugely beneficial as it will help the voice to recover quickly from regular use. Take regular breaks from singing during your day.
3. Watch what you eat
Diet is particularly important in respect of your overall vocal health. Try to avoid acidic foods such as tomatoes, keep especially acidic fruit to a minimum, as well as drinks such as orange juice, but also those which can dry out the vocal folds such as caffeine and alcohol. Cheese is also a no-no as it it is sticky and gloopy, and full fat milk is another one I’m afraid. We all love all pizza and pasta with a nice cold beer, but this is just about the worst combination you can have on a regular basis if you want to look after your voice. Whilst I am highlighting these ‘bad’ foods and drink for the voice, this doesn’t mean you should cut them out altogether. Just keep these in mind and take in moderation. The odd pizza is not going to cripple your singing career!
4. Don’t oversing
People believe singing the longest, highest notes, makes you a great singer. It doesn’t. We see so many times on TV where singers sing a great note and the audience goes wild. It’s so fake, and they are told to do it! But it makes people think that this is right and is what makes a great singer. But quite simply, if you force your sound out, shout or scream, you are over-singing. You are putting too much pressure on the vocal folds (the thing that makes your voice what it is!), and you can end up with very serious damage including nodules. Most performers use mics (unless in opera/classcial music where the style of singing (and indeed the technique used) and balance with the orchestra does not make it necessary) – mics are there to help you – they are there to amplify the sound – so there is no need to over-sing. Just sing, use great technique, and you’ll have great longevity.
5. Warm up
Warming up the voice is vitally important – singing on a cold voice can damage the vocal folds. It’s just like any other muscle. Imagine going to the gym and lifting 30k on a bench press without a warm-up – you could seriously cause injury, and the voice is no different. Do some simple but effective vocal exercises to warm your voice up before you perform. Check out my Video Blog or Podcast for a great vocal warm-up.