“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” - Ella Fitzgerald
Whether you’re a singing teacher or a singer performing in a show, you need to avoid vocal fatigue, sore throats, voice loss, and inflammation. Most people will sing from time to time and it tends to be the younger generation who sing more often.
Whether it’s in your car, bathroom, or around the house, lots of people enjoy singing. Your voice is an instrument and you need to take care of it. Vocal health is hugely important for singers as damage to the vocal folds can lead to hoarseness and other vocal disorders.
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In this article, we’ve got 10 tips to help you look after it.
1. Warm Up Your Voice before Singing
Your vocal cords include muscle tissue and the cricothyroid muscle. The latter is used to tense your vocal cords.
Like any muscle, you need to tense it to use it and it’s recommended that you warm it up before you do so that you don’t strain it.
You also need a good lung capacity and vocal endurance to get the most out of your voice. Preparing your voice is a way to avoid vocal injury.
Start by singing quietly and doing vocal exercises and ranges before singing more powerfully. Warming up will also help you alleviate stress and stage fright before getting on stage.
After all, singing involves a good degree of physical exertion.
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2. Sleeping Well to Sing Better
You mightn’t think of it, but fatigue is your voice’s worst enemy. Sleeping well is important for your energy levels and resting your voice. Sleep also allows you to renew your voice through rest.
Poor sleep can lead to feeling hoarse, inflammation, dysphonia, or even voice loss. If you lose your voice following a viral infection, a good night's sleep can help you get better.
When we sleep, we don’t use our voices. The night is an important time for singers as it’s when your vocal cords regenerate.
3. A Good Posture
You need a good posture if you want a good vocal technique and voice. Stand up straight and lift your chin to open the airways.
A good posture can also help you to relax. Singing while tense won’t help you get a good tone out of your voice. You need to work on the relationship between your body and your voice. You also need to find the optimum vocal comfort.
We recommend using abdominal breathing, tensing your stomach as you breathe out and relaxing it as you breathe in. Sing standing up with your legs straight first. Then, sing sitting down with your back straight.
Then sing lying on your back.
Can you see how singing while standing up is much easier?
The best position for singers is as follows:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Unlock your knees.
- Ensure your pelvis is in line with your spinal column.
- Lower your shoulders and relax your arms with your hands apart.
Tension in the body affects your vocal cords.
Do your best to avoid vocal cord injury.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercising comes with many benefits for the human body and limits the risk of disease.
Regularly exercising can help improve your breathing. Additionally, a singer who regularly exercises will also have more endurance.
During physical exercise, you’ll consume oxygen and expel carbon dioxide as your blood provides muscles with oxygen which they use when burning energy.
Healthy lungs have a higher capacity, allowing them to hold more oxygen.
This means a singer won’t have as much shortness of breath when singing.
5. Don’t Smoke
We could have put this tip first since whether you’re a singer or not, you probably shouldn’t smoke. There are plenty of illnesses that are caused by smoking including cancers and respiratory problems.
There are many benefits to quitting smoking, too:
- Opening the airways.
- Reducing the risk of throat cancers.
- Reducing the risk of irritated vocal cords.
- Reducing the risk of cancer in the lymph nodes, polyps, nodules, etc.
The same could be said of alcohol as well. Additionally, you should drink at least 2 litres of water per day.
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6. Rest Your Vocal Cords
After having sung a lot, such as during a concert, or spoke a lot (if you’re a teacher, for example), it’s recommended that you rest your voice.
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A speech pathologist or ENT specialist will probably recommend it, too.
Hoarseness can lead to muscular tension in the abdomen and lead to disrupted breathing. It can also cause problems around the shoulders and collar bones. This will cause you to strain your voice as you try to sing, leading to an alteration in your voice. If you regularly strain your voice, you can damage your voice. This is why vocal timbre changes; your voice is made by vibrating vocal cords in the larynx.
A loss of voice, known as aphonia, is due to a vocal cord malfunction. Aphonia is caused by injured vocal cords. In the event of hoarseness, it’s recommended that you stop singing completely and rest your voice.
Make sure you look after your voice!
7. Protect Your Voice from the Cold
The changing of the seasons is harmful to your vocal cords. This is why you should consider wearing a scarf during winter, to protect your larynx from the cold.
You can end up with laryngitis, a sore throat, fever, or bronchitis for a few days. While these infections are pretty harmless, they’re not ideal the night before a concert.
You might want to drink some herbal tea, lemon juice, honey, or take some eucalyptus lozenges. Your doctor may suggest antibiotics if the infection is bad.
8. Don’t Speak
Silence is sometimes the best solution for a bad voice. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but you want to use your vocal cords as little as possible while they heal.
You might only be able to do this on your days off, especially if you need to speak during work. However, this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to heal your voice.
9. Stop Singing if Your Airways Are Inflamed
Don’t think that you can take some anti-inflammatory medicine and keep singing. If you’ve got a sore throat or laryngitis, you need to stop singing immediately.
There are four main parts to your airways: the nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, and the bronchial tree. If you’ve any inflammation for over 7 days, you must stop singing immediately while it heals.
If you keep singing, you’ll strain your voice and damage your vocal cords.
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10. Consult a Speech Pathologist or ENT Specialist
If you have any long-lasting problems with your voice, you should see a speech pathologist or ENT specialist. They can help diagnose any issues and have a look at your throat.
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Similarly, they’re the first ones to spot any grave illnesses (such as tumours, etc.). Women are four times as likely as men to suffer from problems with their voices. So when you sing, make sure you take care of your precious voice.
If you want to work on your voice and improve your singing, you might want to consider getting a vocal coach or private tutor on Superprof. They can help you improve your singing, take care of your voice, and provide bespoke singing tuition. There are three main types of tutorials on offer and each one comes with several advantages and disadvantages.
Face-to-face private tutorials are just between you and your tutor. The sessions will be tailored to you, your needs, and your strengths and weaknesses. Of course, since the tutor will be dedicating a lot of time to you and your tutorials as well as tailoring them to your needs, this type of tutorial tends to be the most costly. However, it's also the most cost-effective.
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Thanks to the internet, webcams, and video conferencing software, you can also get online tutorials. Again, these tutorials are just between you and the tutor with the main difference being that you're not in the same room. With fewer travel expenses and the ability to schedule more tutorials each week, the tutor can charge a more competitive rate for these tutorials.
Finally, there are group tutorials. These are more like your traditional classes with several students and one teacher. The cost of the tutor's time is shared between all the students in the class so you can expect to pay less per hour for these tutorials. Unfortunately, this means the tutor can't spend as much time focusing on you and your singing.