Brett Manning teaches that a singer is a complex human instrument, with all parts of the body, mind, and spirit requiring proper care and maintenance to consistently perform at its highest potential.
He cites an unhealthy lifestyle as one of the most commonly encountered issues for singers at all levels of accomplishment. He emphasizes that lifestyle is a choice and is manageable. He stresses his vocal training can make you a better, stronger singer, but bad habits and lifestyle choices can significantly compromise vocal health and in many cases can damage the voice.
“If you have unhealthy habits or an unhealthy lifestyle, plan on those unhealthy habits affecting your voice severely,” Brett said, noting heavy drinking, smoking, and poor nutrition as key offenders.
For the next few weeks, we’ll look at healthy habits and practices to engage as well as dietary issues, supplements, and other tips for achieving and maintaining optimum vocal health.
Healthy Body Supports A Healthy Voice
Overall good health is obviously key to vocal health as well, but it is far too often overlooked. Someone may rest the voice, but only get four or five hours of sleep each day. So, proper rest for the body and getting sufficient sleep on a daily basis is absolutely necessary. If you don’t get enough rest, you then start to push yourself more and more to function at an optimum level, whether it’s singing, speaking, or simply walking.
This pushing through will ultimately stress out your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infection such as colds and viruses. So getting enough rest and sleep are key to maintaining optimum health and performance. To help fend off colds and viruses, it’s also recommended that you engage in frequent hand washing.
Restrict Emotional Stress
Emotional stress can significantly impact stress and strain of the voice. To help relieve emotional stress, relaxation exercises and practices such as yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are helpful. Regular exercise such as brisk walking and jogging is also helpful in reducing stress. It’s important to note that weight lifting when it is engaged extensively with higher weights can place some wear on the vocal folds. So power lifting should be avoided during times of repeated vocal use or periods where you’re experiencing vocal fatigue.
Environmentally Sound Proof
Environmental factors can impact the use of your voice. In other words, a noisy setting will naturally make you want to speak up, or even scream and shout. So it’s important to limit the use of your voice in such environments as high-ceilinged restaurants, noisy parties and other public gatherings. Limit the amount of time spent talking in cars and planes. The problem with such environments is that the more you talk, the more you continue to subtly raise your voice above background noises. Then, before you even know it, you’re straining your voice because you’re actually yelling.
Don’t Get A Shout Out
You want to avoid yelling and resist the urge to call out to others from room to room. Many times after a performance there’s a tendency to be pumped up and more vocally gregarious. But you must avoid shouting, screaming, loud laughter, and heavy throat clearing. If you need to get someone’s attention, rely on some non-vocal cues such as clapping, waving, or whistling. Once you get someone’s attention, move closer. As a general rule, make it a point to move closer and face people you engage in conversation. This invites a natural level for speaking. And, remember to engage in listening by not doing all the talking.