Itâ€™s that time of the year for another seasonal transition. The move from summer to fall certainly provides some environmental shifting and adaptation. And, it often brings changes in schedules and daily routines, as well as altered patterns of indoor and outdoor activity. Itâ€™s a great time for a vocal health check.
Remind yourself that you voice is a unique gift that you need to have in top working order so that it can be engaged and shared to its fullest potential. But it requires proper care and maintenance. Your voice is your instrument. If something goes seriously wrong due to abuse or neglect, accident or disease, it canâ€™t be replaced. So preventive measures must be taken daily to assure its fullest potential can be shared.
Brett Manning has said many times that not only is a singer an artist, a singer is also a vocal athlete. Both the artist and the athlete require proper care, nutrition, diet, and rest, as part of training.
Get A Coach
One of the key recommendations made by Duke Medicineâ€™s Vocal Care Center in Durham, N.C. is to find a good voice teacher or vocal coach so you learn how to sing without hurting your voice. They also advise learning to use your speaking voice in a healthy way by consulting a voice trainer or speech pathologist.
As you know, the development, strengthening, and ongoing maintenance of optimum vocal health is one of the cornerstones of Brett Manningâ€™s methods and teaching. His programs help singers to sing and speak at their greatest ability, fully supported and protected, with ease and comfort.
Another recommendation made by Dukeâ€™s Vocal Care Center is to consider getting a baseline evaluation of your voice when you are healthy so that your doctor has a clear point of reference should your voice be injured due to misuse, overuse, disease or some other injury.
You can check with your family physician for a referral so that this can be completed, with the results included your medical history. Many times having a baseline evaluation becomes an afterthought once an injury has taken place.
This makes good business sense as well. Your gift, your instrument, needs to be in the best shape possible in order for you to yield its greatest rewards. In fact, you may want to check with your physician about the frequency of follow up evaluations once you have the baseline on file.
One of the most important, very basic vocal care recommendations to follow is hydration. This should be increased during stressful times physically or emotionally. And it should be increased if youâ€™re fighting a cold, dealing with allergies, or taking medications that have stimulant properties that increase loss of fluid. If you donâ€™t like water, drink herbal teas or try lightly flavored water. Itâ€™s also recommended that ice-cold water be avoided while singing. Room temperature is suggested.
Another tip that tends to get overlooked, especially when youâ€™re extra busy and stressing to meet deadlines, is make sure you get plenty of rest. If you find youâ€™re pushing through weaknesses and throwing back espresso after latte, you need to check out, kick back, and relax. Otherwise youâ€™ll eventually burn out. Even if youâ€™re resting your voice but straining your body, your voice will still suffer the consequences.
And, of course, remember to rest the voice. Make sure you engage your vocal warm up as part of your daily regimen. But donâ€™t forget to rest your voice before and after days where your voice has faced additional demands such as a long grueling rehearsal or a strenuous performance. This applies to singers, actors, speakers, voice-over talent, on-air personnel, teachers â€“ anyone that uses their voice at various levels of amplification for extended periods of time.
Itâ€™s advised that you pace yourself during rehearsals and as much as possible during engagements or events, and to rest your voice before and after the day of a live performance. To avoid running the risk of getting fatigued, youâ€™re advised to stop singing before you get tired. Generally speaking, once you begin to feel fatigued, youâ€™ve likely already overdone it. Itâ€™s also suggested that you learn new music by listening rather than singing in order to avoid stress and strain on the voice.
According to Dukeâ€™s Vocal Care Center, women should exercise caution when dealing with vocal demands just before and during the menstrual cycle. According to the Center, as estrogen levels are lowered there can be an increase in vocal fold swelling for some women. This should be noted as you use your discretion.
Diet + Exercise
In addition to getting lots of rest, make sure to exercise daily and eat healthy, nutritional foods. Take a brisk 20-30 minute walk or run to improve circulation, to steady your nerves, invite clearer thinking, and keep your emotions in check.
Wash Up – Smoke Free
To avoid infections and catching a cold or flu, always wash your hands before and after snacks and meals. You should also wash your hands before touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes. Hand washing is a critical practice to engage rigorously before an after rehearsals and performances, as well as visiting high traffic public areas.
And, of course, do not smoke, and quit immediately if you are a smoker. Tobacco smoke is a ruthless irritant for the brutal vocal cords. The Duke Vocal Care Center says that smoking can cause changes in the tissue of the vocal cords and causes cancer. It also compromises your respiratory and immune systems.
Health Care Products
Call SSTV at (888) 269-7758 or (615) 866-1099 to ask about products that are available to help promote and maintain optimum vocal health to help you achieve the full measure of your singing success.
Voice Care Center
The Voice Care Center at Duke University is a part of Duke Medicine. DM conceptually integrates the Duke University Health System, the Duke University School of Medicine, and the Duke University School of Nursing. Visit www.dukehealth.org for more information on the Duke Medicine Voice Care Center.