Anyone can learn to sing and singing is actually encouraged, whether you are good at it or not. Even then, as far as a real voice talent is concerned, that’s just something only a few of us are born with. However, even if you are just a half-decent singer, you have that talent already and it is possible to hone it to perfection under the right guidance and full dedication. Protecting and taking care of that voice is equally important though and today, we will discuss nine points that will help you to do just that.
Avoiding Alcohol and Caffeine in General
It’s not that singers don’t party and drink coffee in the morning to cure a hangover just like the rest of us, because a lot of the most popular ones certainly do so at times! Nevertheless, like everything else in life, the key lies in setting limits and moderation, especially when you are young and your singing voice is still developing. Every time you drink too much caffeine or alcohol, it will inevitably affect your voice and, as a result, it will be like a taking a step back. Both alcohol and caffeine dehydrate our bodies and that’s why we feel so thirsty in the morning after a party. As every singing instructor will tell you, a dry throat is bad for your singing voice, both in the long and the short term.
Smoking and Singing are a Terrible Combo
To be honest, nobody should need another reason to quit smoking other than the fact that it is a known carcinogenic substance which damages the body in multiple ways. If you are a singer though, or if you aspire to be one, know that each time you smoke, you will lower your chances of reaching your singing goals, one cigarette at a time. Even if you are lucky enough to avoid any type of cancer, rest assured that the constant irritation and subsequent swelling of the vocal cords will ruin your voice, making it harsh and croaky in the long run. Those that have ever smoked just before a stage show will tell you that a single smoke can ruin the performance because of mucus accumulation in the throat, as it is the body’s natural reaction to tobacco smoke. Over time, the mucous accumulation will become constant and stage shows will not be feasible anymore unless you are willing to clear your throat multiple times mid-performance.
Drugs are No Exceptions
Unfortunately, some of the best-known names in the industry have associated themselves with drugs and their fans have foolishly followed in their footsteps to make the same mistake. More often than not, those that make such mistakes pay the price at the cost of the most special thing about them, which is the voice talent they had. Drugs interfere with the nervous system because that’s how they bring on the effects they are known for. As this is in direct conflict with the interests of the singer, this means that any recreational or even prescription drugs may cause you to lose the granular control you have over your voice, which basically cuts down your singing talent. If you ever needed one more reason to stay away from drugs, this would be it, especially since the damage could be permanent after even just a short period of substance abuse.
Hydration and Moisturization
The skin isn’t the only part of the human body that needs to be moisturized. In fact, every section of the human body needs constant hydration to stay healthy and the vocal cords are not an exception to that rule either. The primary goal here is to drink plenty of water (three-liters to a gallon) throughout the day, every day, to stay hydrated from the inside, but that alone may not be enough. Singers often use a humidifier to keep their throats moist and their nasal passageways clear, especially during dry winters or extremely hot summers. Check out Unhumid to know exactly how and why professional singers use a humidifier to keep their vocal cords moist and, therefore, in perfect condition at all times.
Ice Water Before a Performance Could Ruin a Singer’s Voice
If you have a habit of drinking ice cold water or even sucking on ice directly, refrain from doing so just before a show because it will contract your throat passage, as well as your vocal cords, which will then cause you to lose some of the flexibility in your voice. As that flexibility is the very thing that enables us to sing, ice water before a function can severely affect the singer’s performance during the show. In general, try to avoid eating or drinking things that are too cold (or too hot) because regular contraction due to cold exposure could harm one’s voice even permanently. Aside from the effects of the cold exposure, it is more than likely that you will catch a cold every so often if you keep drinking icy water regularly. Even a minor cold is enough to affect a singer’s voice to a point where he/she cannot go live, but it can be worse and will take a longer time to heal if the cold develops into a fully-fledged throat infection.
Yelling Before a Performance is Another Bad Idea
Now, people don’t usually yell unless they are angry or emotional for some reason, so this one’s a bit hard to control really. Despite this, if you have a live performance or an audition coming up soon, it is best to be mindful of the fact that a single loud argument can ruin an opportunity to achieve something great. Consciously avoid topics, places or people that trigger negative emotions in you, at least until the big day. The funny thing is that a lot of people often lose their voices by shouting too much at a party as well, so any wild parties should not be on your agenda before the performance. It might be worth remembering that all music teachers usually tell their students to talk less before a performance or a test to ensure the same.
Be Careful While Practicing
Did you know that there are a number of popular singers who have actually lost a lot of quality in their voice over the years? Some examples include Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Joni Mitchell and Ozzy Osbourne. While lack of effort and ample substance abuse has played a role in some cases, for others, it’s just that they used their voice far too many times and not always with the proper techniques necessary to preserve one’s voice while hitting the high notes. The same thing can and often does happen to a lot of amateur singers as well, sometimes even before they hit their prime. This is why you need to be extra careful while practicing. Always shield your voice properly and do not overstrain yourself, especially before an audition or a performance.
There is no lack of misleading things shown in movies and shows, so it is important to use your head before you take any of it to heart. For example, a singer doing late shifts at their job and getting up with the sun to practice his/her singing is an inspiring, albeit overused theme in movies and shows, but unfortunately, it’s also very misleading. Every artistic activity is borne out of higher brain function and the brain doesn’t function very highly unless you get enough sleep! It’s a scientific fact that most of us need at least seven hours of sleep to function adequately and when you are a singer, you need that sleep even more than the average person. The bottom line is that unless your brain is properly recharged with enough sleep during the night, you will not sound as well as you can. Ignore sleep long enough and your voice will deepen and become hoarse automatically.
Treat Coughs Immediately
We have already discussed how freezing drinks and food can lead to colds and other infections of the respiratory system, but one of the worst things that can happen to a singer is the development of a bad cough. If you are coughing incessantly and violently, see the doctor immediately and discuss your options in controlling the cough as soon as possible. Coughing can damage the vocal cords severely and recovery might take a long time, depending on how damaging the effects were. Laryngitis is the common enemy of vocalists all over the world, so at the first sign of the infection, address it with specialized cough syrups, an ibuprofen-aspirin combo, and chamomile tea (mixed with honey and lemon).
What some of us often forget at times is that our vocal cords are the most complex musical instruments in existence and, therefore, they require care and maintenance, just like all the other musical instruments. The only difference being the fact that unlike that classic flame maple acoustic you have stored carefully in your home, the vocal cords cannot be replaced.