Being a great singer is as much a matter of vocal health as it is a matter of talent. If you fail to keep your voice maintained, after all, you can lose it. When you take the time to learn how to sing, you need to take the time to learn how to use your voice in a health way – if you do not, you might find yourself without the ability to make use of your talent.
Maintaining Your Instrument
Vocal health is largely a matter of keeping your voice maintained. The first skill you must master is how to warm up before you sing. You can no more go straight into a performance without warming up than you could start a marathon without stretching. Learning to slowly work your throat muscles and prepare yourself for a night of singing is hard work, but it is also something must be done. Without proper practice, you make use of an ill-maintained machine.
Hydration and Fitness
Good vocal health is the same as good physical health. A great singer will always strive to stay fit and healthy, eating a reasonable diet and making sure to make time for exercise. Daily cardio can help you to expand your lung capacity, while even a bit of competitive sports play can help you to increase your confidence and concentration. Foods eaten while in vocal training should be relatively mild so as to avoid damaging acid reflux – while you might miss the taste, you certainly will not miss the pain when it comes time to perform.
Hydration is perhaps the most important part of your process, though. Water keeps the muscles of the throat loose and able to perform while providing your body with the hydration it needs on stage. Make sure to stay away from caffeine and alcohol – they can interfere with hydration and leave you with overtaxed muscles that cannot support your full voice.
One of the smartest things that a singer can do is to treat his or her voice the same way that a guitarist treats his or her prized instrument. Take a look at how other members of a band act towards their prized possessions – they are carefully stored, maintained and treated with respect. As a vocalist, that means taking the time to learn how to use your voice appropriately. For many, this means taking the time to learn how to sing without screaming or raising one’s voice. For others, it means learning how to be quiet during daily life, staying away from excessive talking and from shouting in conversation.
One of the hardest things to do for many is learning how to stop singing so often. While it is always wise to get vocal exercise, one must also limit one’s full-volume singing to important situations. If you spend too much time alone with your voice off-stage, you might find it faltering when things count. As such, it is wise to practice singing only when necessary or to do so in a manner that is far quieter than what would be necessary on stage.
If you have ever spent time listening to an aging singer, you know that voices change over time. Unfortunately, this change can be hastened by those who decide to abuse their natural instrument. Smoking is incredibly common among musicians, but it can be very dangerous for those who make a living with their voices. Smoking can quickly damage the throat and the diaphragm, quickly eliminating the singer’s ability to hit the high notes and ruining the lower part of his or her vocal’s range. Unfortunately, smoking is only one of a few vices that can ruin a voice.
Alcohol is rarely thought of as detrimental to the voice, but it can have its own unique effects on vocal health. Drinking alcohol has an impact on mucous production in the throat, reducing vocal flexibility. It also impacts that blood vessels in the throat, further causing damage to a very delicate instrument. Combined with alcohol’s dehydrating effects and its ability to lower inhibitions (thus causing greater vocal risks to be taken), this can lead to a singer ruining his or her voice many years before he or she enters his or her prime.
Of course, even legal drugs can cause problems for singers. Cough medications and antihistamines can lead to dry throats, which ruins the quality of the voice in the short term and can lead to severe vocal issues such as laryngitis and even vocal cord damage over time. Any substance that impacts how the muscles of the throat work can end up causing irreparable damage to a singer and can quickly bring an end to his or her career. As such, it is always best to avoid anything that can have an impact on the throat and stick to soothing, natural cures when possible and to stay away from any illicit substances.