Looking After Your Voice
Jackie gives you some tips on how to keep your voice in shape.
So you’re a fully trained singer, you know how to warm up your voice before rehearsal or a show and how to belt out those high notes. Although what about when it comes to the not-so-loud moments? After the show? What to eat before the show? Looking after your voice is just as important as warming up before the show. Read on to find out what to do in those quiet moments before and after a performance.
Herbal Teas For Looking After Your Voice
Add a teaspoon of honey and a few drops of lemon and pick a tea! There are multiple healthy vocal options to pick from:
- Peppermint Tea – If you’re getting over a cold, peppermint tea is for you. Peppermint tea helps reduce phlegm from sticking to the back of your throat without drying it out.
- Ginger Tea – Many professional singers claim that ginger tea is the lifeblood of the music world. This tea has very similar properties to peppermint – it also helps reduce phlegm without drying out your throat.
- Lemon – Helps to fight off infections (particularly the flu).
- Honey – Soothes and coats a sore throat. A great idea after a vocally intense performance.
A great way to keep bacteria out of your throat is to gargle warm water with a dash of salt. Yes it doesn’t taste very nice but in flu season it can make all the difference. I bet you will be thanking me for that one.
Room Temp Water
That’s it, put down the coffee. Did you know that every cup of coffee depletes your body of 3 cups of water? A definite no for your voice! As singers, it is very important to keep our larynx hydrated as nerves can dry out our mouths during performances, which will affect the quality of our sound. Our vocal cords can tense up when we drink hot or cold drinks, so the best thing straight before a performance is to have a bottle of room temperature water. Ditch your double-shot-macchiato!
A Singer’s Diet
Obviously depending on how serious you are about your singing craft, it can come in handy to avoid dairy, alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods, particularly before a performance. These foods are acid and phlegm producing and can also dehydrate you. You’ve probably heard that taking a shot of whiskey before a performance can warm up your vocal chords? Wrong. It actually dehydrates you and can make you sloppy before a performance. Stick to the water.
Warming Up/Warming Down
I know all of us vocal teachers harp on about it, but warming up with scales and exercises before a performance is essential. If you haven’t warmed up, you’re not going to perform at your vocal peak, nerves can take over (even more so) and you are likely to damage your vocal cords by putting unnecessary strain on them. I can’t even answer the phone properly in the morning, so don’t expect your body to be pumping out a ‘Beyonce’ concert straight after you wake up. Ease your way into it, start with humming, do your scales and include some exercises and you should be ready for that performance in no time!
So many famous artists are well known for not talking for days between shows. Downtime is essential as an artist, as overworked, unrested voices are not going to sound nice. If your throat is feeling tired or sore or even worn out, or you’ve just been battling a cold or flu, go on vocal rest. All you have to do is avoid talking for long amounts of time, avoid yelling, screaming, talking on the phone, throat clearing, any singing and even heavy lifting. The less noise you make, the more speedy your recovery.
Avoid contact with sick people and more importantly always, always, always wash your hands regularly, particularly after you’ve been out for the day and before eating. It is so easy to get the flu and suddenly your recording sessions are cancelled, your shows are cancelled and you’re out of work. It is essential as a singer to stay healthy and avoid sick people in flu season.
The Neti Pot
A Neti Pot looks a bit like a teapot and is used to pour salt water solution into one nostril and let it pour out the other. Yes, it’s absolutely gross, and I don’t imagine anyone running out to go and buy one, but if you’re really desperate, this is a good way for you to clear out your sinuses.
If anything, the key to looking after your voice is making sure to keep well and healthy and to always warm up before a performance.