There are simple ways to avoid vocal injury or fatigue. If you sing regularly you need to maintain good vocal health. Your instrument is made up of tissue, muscle, joints, blood vessels, ligaments and nerves. Just like any other joint in the body the voice can be affected by misuse, overuse and abuse.
Here are five easy tips to get you started on good vocal health.
1. Keep well hydrated
Your vocal folds (cords) need moisture to help them slide over each easily for sound production and pitch adjustment. Hydration comes from drinks and food (veggies and fruits). You need enough to make pale straw coloured pee.
“A man of wisdom delights in water.” Confucius
2. Prolonged pain, huskiness, loss of voice and changes in vocal tone are signs of vocal problems.
Get your voice assessed before continuing with singing. Start by seeing a reputable singing teacher who can refer you to an Ear Nose and Throat/ Laryngologist if necessary. You can also go straight to the specialist, your GP will be able to refer you. Also, check the BVA for Voice Clinics in the UK or call BAPAM for advice.
3. Regular short practice sessions
Regular 10-15 min daily vocal practices are far more effective and healthy than a long practice session once a week. Aim for at least 4-5 practice days.
If you want to do more each day then split up longer practice session over the day e.g. 50% in the morning and 50% in the evening.
Check out my “Practice Does Not Make Perfect” article for Deliberate Practice strategies.
4. Warm up and down before performing.
Your voice is made of muscle and ligaments, just like the rest of the body these need to be prepared for heavy use. This includes talking for long periods e.g. teaching or call center work.
5. Restrict the use of drugs and alcohol
Smoking, alcohol, illicit drugs, some prescribed medications, chemical fumes, extremes of heat and cold are some of the external factors that can affect the voice and its ability to function well. If you are serious about singing you will consider eliminating or restricting these elements. If you are on a prescribed medication that appears to be impacting on your voice then seek medical advice for alternative options.
Check out my Good Voice Care article for more advice.