When things go wrong, it is quite easy for guitarists to replace a broken string or for drummers to change an old drum head. Singers have only one voice for all their lives. That is why they must keep their voices in top shape, no matter at what stage they are in their careers. Here are some tips to help you take care of your voice so you can sing at your best:
An adequately hydrated body is like a well-oiled machine, each part functions smoothly. Vocal cords are made of muscle tissue that vibrates to produce sound. They need to stay flexible and lubricated. Experts recommend that you drink at least eight glasses (about two litres) of water throughout the day. Try to spread your water intake as evenly as possible as it takes some time for the vocal cords to be hydrated. You can carry a water bottle along to avoid having too long of a break.
Many singers prefer drinking warm water, sometimes also adding honey and lemon in the mix. However, room temperature water works just fine. If the water is too hot or too cold, it could do more harm than good by shocking the voice.
There are other ways to hydrate too! Inhaling steam and using a room humidifier could be very helpful as dry surroundings tend to accelerate dehydration.
Avoid trigger foods:
We all know how important a balanced diet is. What we eat and drink should be consistent with our goals. As a singer, it is best to stay clear of foods that could hurt your vocal ability. Some foods cause excess mucus or phlegm production while some may cause acidity, thus directly impacting your singing. Indulge in moderation if you cannot do away with them entirely (it’s hard, we understand). A few common trigger foods are:
● Dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, paneer etc.)
● Chocolate and sweets
● Fried and oily foods
● Spicy foods
● Acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus fruits etc.)
● Ice cream
Curb your vices:
Being a singer or a musician is nothing short of a lifestyle. It is tempting to go for a quick cigarette break or drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages to take the edge off. Resist the temptation to smoke or drink to do justice to your voice.
The risks of smoking on overall health are well-known. There are many reasons for singers to not smoke or to quit. Smoking reduces your lung capacity and also irritates your vocal cords, thus drying them out. The smoke can also trigger stomach acid to make its way to your throat (acid reflux). On top of that, there is the notorious smoker’s cough which is a result of harmful tar coating the insides of your lungs. Any short-term pleasure is not worth the reduced vocal range and endurance.
Alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine on the other hand are not as damaging as smoking. They are both diuretics, meaning that they negatively affect hydration. However, studies reveal that consumption of caffeine in low to moderate doses may not be problematic. So, it is okay to enjoy your morning cup of coffee without worrying too much. Excess drinking or caffeine intake can also cause acid reflux.
Practicing and performing can take a toll on your mind and body. That is why a good night’s sleep is essential for singers at all stages in their careers. Sometimes there might be no option except pulling an all nighter, but do not let it be a habit as effects of sleep deprivation show in your voice. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your voice fresh. Lack of sound sleep also compromises your immune system.
Slow and steady:
Treat your vocal cords like how you would treat your muscles at the gym. It would make little sense to lift heavy weights explosively on your very first day so why do the same to your voice by putting strain on it?
Try to set up a regular singing practice schedule that is consistent with your current skill level and your future goals. Make sure that you start each session with a vocal warm up. An often overlooked training routine is the cool down, which is akin to muscle stretching after a gym workout. Cool downs help your vocal muscles relax once you are done singing.
Seek professional assistance:
Proper guidance goes a long way when it comes to protecting your voice. A vocal coach or a music teacher can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and recommend personalised training routines to take your singing ability to the next level.