Singing is an art which at times is a born talent that one is gifted with. However, many must practice with continued guidance and interest in music in order to develop their voice. You will see in a lot of gyms posters that often say “NO PAIN NO GAIN”, similar is the case for singing. The more you strain your vocal chords the higher you can go and improve as a singer. Practice makes perfect they say. But in this world of severe competition only hard work only goes so far. Hard work has to be focused in the right direction. Suppose if a singer just strains their vocal chords in daily practice sessions, gradually their voice quality would degrade and start to sound hoarse. There are many things which can affect voice and its quality. From professional singers that use their voice for a living we have found the top ten ways by which professional singers protect their voices.
10) RECREATIONAL DRUGS AND MEDICINES
The use of recreational drugs and non-prescribed medicines can hamper the throat. Musicians are generally associated with drugs and all types of intoxications but vocalists make an exception in the bands as they take special care and stay away from the use of any sort of recreational drugs or medicines. The medicines taken are also specially prescribed and such that they don’t affect the throat and vocal chords. Drugs are generally taken to counter stress and loneliness but there are other effective ways of getting out of these feelings. Common drugs such as heroine and amphetamines have proved fatal for many musicians and singers around the globe. They not only harm the body but affect the overall personality leading to defaming and downfall in career. Singers make sure that at least before a performance they are not high, but mostly singers refrain from the consumption of said drugs.
Alcohol and caffeine both are enemies of a singer and they maintain distance from the consumption of these. Drinking water is crucial to maintaining a healthy voice, because it prevents the delicate vocal cords from drying out. “Drinking about two liters of water a day is helpful for most people. Proper hydration also means finding creative ways to counterbalance arid environments (caused by air-conditioning and hot climates) that can dry out the vocal cords. Steam inhalation, for example, moistens the vocal cords and thins out mucus.
8) GOOD VOCAL HABIT
More you scream, hoarser will be your voice. Shouting, yelling and talking loudly in noisy places affects vocal chords and singers refrain from such doings. On the day of performance also the amount of speaking is less compared to normal days. Talking in unnatural pitch and tone is also avoided because it strains the vocal chords unnecessarily. Yawning, coughing, constant clearing of throat and sneezing with sound affect the voice range and quality. Good vocal habits also include a big NO to smoking (any form marijuana, tobacco etc.) also. Even second hand smoke or passive smoking is also very dangerous for throat and vocal chords. Smoking will reduce the singing capacity as there is loss of stamina and there is also degradation in quality of voice.
7) HAVING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Good sleep and proper rest is required in any performing any activity efficiently. Physical fatigue also has a negative effect on voice. Professional singers are always concerned if they will be able to get proper sleep and rest during shows and tours. Singers generally sing less if the rest is not proper as it would definitely affect their vocal chords. Some people are more prone to vocal problems than others and hence the amount of rest and sleep varies. In simple words if you sleep less your voice is tired and anything tired is prone and vulnerable to injuries.
6) EATING RIGHT
Eating habits do play a vital role in voice protection. One cannot just simply eat anything he/she craves for. Spicy food should be avoided as far as possible. As eating lot of spices may lead to acid reflux and acidity which in return affect the larynx also. The regular diet must include whole grains, leafy vegetables and fruits. This will keep the mucus membrane which lines the throat healthy and voice clear. Eating of cold dairy products such as curd should be avoided. Ice creams, soft serves, chocolates etc. all should have no relation with a singer. Overeating should also be avoided.
5) GOOD POSTURE
A good posture is essential for a good and strong vocal performance. The biggest problem faced by singers these days is collapse of chest and rib cage that affects breathing and as a result affects vocal power. A stiff posture may cause tension throughout the body and corresponding downward fall of the head and neck. During practice session a posture is devised and thereafter that posture is maintained for effective performance and avoiding any sort of injuries during shows and tours. Exercise regularly, it will increase stamina and muscle tone.
4) SMART PRACTICE SESSIONS
A great technique is without question the basis for a healthy voice. Good technique helps in prevention of injury and enables performers to sing at the top of their level every time. With proper and effective practice a singer learns to release excess tensions in the body and throat muscles. The most overlooked fact about singing and voice is that one must take a break after long singing sessions. If you sing nonstop for long durations without giving any time to catch your breath, this may strain your voice. A tired voice tapers off a bit and one must refrain from singing or may sing in a low pitch. Overdoing will hurt the vocal chords and leave them vulnerable to various injuries. The key thing is to learn to pace yourself throughout a performance and give measure bursts of singing and vocals. Daily practice sessions with the right approach will definitely help in preserving and enhancing of voice.
3) TREATING YOUR VOCAL CHORDS AS AN INSTRUMENT
They are the priceless possessions for a singer and must be treated and maintained as we do in the case of a musical instrument. An instrument would require proper oiling and painting similarly there are certain recipes which help in preserving the voice during practice sessions or long singing shows. Two main ingredients of honey and lemon are mixed in water and taken in between breaks of sessions and shows. This recipe acts as a protectant for the throat. Luke warm water is used from drinking and cold water is totally avoided even during hot summers.
A disciplined lifestyle has been a stepping stone to many success stories. To achieve an objective or a long term goal, a systematic approach is required. A system has to be developed and followed with strictness that is disciplined. A professional singer is very similar to that of an athlete. As for all athletes daily practice is a necessity and same is the case for a professional singer. The practice and regime should be sensible and uplifting which would lead them to a better and desired output of voice. Working too hard can also be harmful, but regular practice will definitely produce results.
1) PROPER WARM UP
Warm up is the best way to avoid injuries and prolong a career in any field. Just like going for a run without first stretching, the voice can easily strain if pushed too hard and without first being primed. Warming up of the voice is absolutely essential for a singer to prevent injuries which may hamper their throat further. A warm up routine has to be developed and voice is aligned with the help of breadth control before a performance or practice session.