Rebuilding an Unhappy Voice – Vocal Health – Part Two
So now you’ve identified some of the vocal health warning signs – what do you do now?
Firstly don’t panic, everyone’s voice gets a little run down from time to time – the most important thing is what you do when it starts to suffer; the following are some of my tried and tested methods to help recover a poorly voice.
Cut down on your voice use
Start by reducing your vocal load; are you singing too often? Too much? For too long? Try and eliminate any unnecessary practice that you can while you recover. It’s not about stopping completely, you still need to use your voice, speak as usual – do not whisper, this will cause constriction and may make things worse. My Vocal SOS: TLC For Tired Voices CD was designed to help keep the voice moving in a gentle way.
You will not believe how many people don’t get enough water each day, did you know you should be aiming for between 2-3 litres of water per day? No more No less – obviously if you are working out / sweating lots you may need to up your intake. Your vocal folds need good hydration to help keep them flexible and in good working order, sometimes lack of water is one of the main culprits to short term unhappy voices, next time you feel your voice is a little unresponsive, have a glass of water and see how you feel 20 mins later.
This is one of the best ways to get direct hydration to your folds, best done with a steam inhaler as this gives you direct heat and moisture, the aim is to help soothe and rehydrate unhappy voices. The water you drink does not directly touch the vocal folds so steaming is essential – for more information on steaming read my previous post here
Bottle and Straw Exercises
Some believe It is really important that you do not go on complete vocal rest unless there is no other option, (especially if you are a professional / regular voice user) Now this doesnt mean to carry on singing as normal, but to keep the voice moving gently. Using the bottle and straw exercises can help to relax the voice and get it moving in a healthier way. Take a simple water bottle and fill a third way with water, use a straw to blow ‘bubbles’ into the water. By blowing into the water we create a good pressure back into the vocal tract and onto the vocal folds. It has been proven to help stretch and relax the folds as well as release and help return tone and range to the singing voice. First try blowing into the bottle, feel the pressure build up. Next try singing as you blow, it will feel odd at first but persevere with this exercise as its one of my favourites for poorly voices, and I’m sure it will be yours too!
Food and Drinks to avoid
You’ve all heard not to eat chocolate when you sing but there are a few more things a lot of vocal teachers recommend to avoid while you recover, things such as alcohol, caffeine, fruit juices, spicey foods, all of them can aggravate the mouth / throat / cords. Do be careful when taking numbing sprays or pastilles as this only disguises the pain and you may not be aware of how much effort you are putting onto the voice. For a complete list and more info click here
Perfumes / Hair Sprays / Aerosols / Room Sprays / Scented Candles / Smoke
All of the above can get onto the folds and dry them out, avoid spraying anything in an enclosed room and if you are a smoker or around smokers be careful that this isn’t making things worse.
Ok so now you’ve started to do the best things you can do for your voice to help soothe and get the voice touching in a healthier way. So how do you make sure things don’t get worse? Click Here for my next post on how to identify any problem areas and how to make your singing practice safe so that we can prevent any problems in the future.