Maria Pellicano's Blog


12 things you can do to protect your voice

DO YOU WANT TO SING WITH POWER AND ENDURANCE ?

ARE YOU VOCALLY TIRED,  STRUGGLE WITH PROJECTION AND HAVE A HUSKY, RASPY VOICE WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN SINGING OR SPEAKING FOR TOO LONG ?

As a singer who wants to continue to sing and inspire for a life time  your voice is the tool and instrument to carry your music.  You cannot replace your voice and you can loose your vocal resonance and stamina with a damaged or fatigued speaking voice.

WHAT WOULD YOU FEEL LIKE IF YOU WOKE UP ONE DAY,  YOU HAD A GIG  AND DID NOT HAVE A VOICE TO SING WITH?

 A damaged voice will require you to put in much more effort to sing. 

When you have greater control over your voice you will be able to have more flexibility in your singing expression and this helps your audience engage and go on a journey with you because they can feel the emotion in your voice and cannot connect with you.     If your voice is damaged or run down you will loose the ability to vary your vocal tonality and you will have less choice and limit  your singing style and the genre you choose to sing. 

A Voice Problem: Is an unexpected change in the sound or feeling of your voice which doesn’t suit your vocal needs.   2/3 of voice problems are due to bad use of the vocal muscles and this can lead to pathology such as swelling, nodules, cysts or bleeds in the cords.

HERE ARE 12  THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAINTAIN YOUR VOCAL ENDURANCE.

 1.  Drink 8-12 large glasses of water per day as this will help you create vocal resonance (projection) with less effort.   Dehydration causes you to work harder as a singer because your volume is effected.  Alcohol, Coffee and lozenges  are dehydrating so increase you water intake.  Drinking 5 hrs  before your speaking is much more useful for your body rather than leaving your drinking when you are actually singing. 

2.  Limit the hours spent talking or singing.  The voice is not designed for unlimited hours of constant use.  Know your personal limit and don’t compare yourself to others as vocal stamina is different for everyone.  Body rest is important to increase your vocal stamina.   Don’t do all the talking or singing and create breaks during your day.

3.    Avoid Smoking and using inhalants as this causes your vocal cords to be coated with substances that effect the muscles and cartilages in the larynx resulting in issues with volume and pitch when you are singing. 

4.  Don't expose yourself to constant loud noise as this creates ringing in the ears and then effects your voice tone.  Your pitch is effected when you hearing is damaged.  The higher frequencies are usually what goes first and this makes you sound monotone and mumbly when you sing.

5.  Avoid trying to hear yourself in loud environments as you will force and push your your voice to do so. Instead block one hear with your finger and you will hear your own sound. You will loose your voice when you strain it.  Your voice is acoustic;  you can never expect your voice to be louder than electronic equipment so don’t even try.  Move closer and face the person to those with whom you are speaking.  Use amplification when singing or speaking.   Even if you were to do all the right things constant use of your voice will effect your voice quality.  Invest in a PA system that suits you.    If you are speaking a lot Invest in a DymeTech portable amplifier for speakers.

6. Keep fit  as this energises the voice by increasing breath capacity, muscles strength and staves away illness.  Voice requires energy and the quality of your body health effects how you energised your voice.  

7.  Be aware of what you eat and drink to avoid thick phlegm on your vocal cords. Thin phlegm is good but not thick phlegm as it will make it difficult to speak due to throat clearing which ends up causing cord irritation.  Certain foods such as sugar and white product such as diary, wheat, potatoes, cheese, butter, yogurt, carbonated and acidity drinks like soft drinks, lemon and orange juices can create acidity in the mouth and this changes the ph of your saliva effecting your vocal cords.  Also causes gastro reflux which creates a husky raspy vocal quality making your voice feel heavy and laborious.

8.   Stress and anxiety effects cortisol in your body,  increase swelling of vocal cords, making singing and speaking more fatiguing.  The larynx has 3 nerve pathways and one of them is the limbic nerve system which is activated by the environment and emotions.  It also regulates the breathing and heart rate.  It has a strong grip on the larynx.  It controls sounds like cries, grunts, screams, squeals,  laughter, these are flight or flight sounds.  So prepare yourself internally and externally to avoid unnecessary negative stress

9.  Regularly warm up and exercise your voice. Vocal exercises remove limitations and enhance vocal endurance and quality. Have scale patterns and exercises that you can use regularly eg: vocal warmups and warm-downs,  vocal range stretches and  breath flow that will help enhance resonances(projection) and volume when you sing.  With proper exercising you will learn to use your voice with as little unnecessary effort and tension as possible. Click here for a vocal warmup & exercise package.


To find out more about your singing voice click here  

10.   Avoid throat clearing and voiced coughing.   Throat clearing and harsh coughing are traumatic to the vocal cords and should be reduced as much as possible. One of the most frequent causes for throat clearing and coughing is thick mucus (due to dry vocal folds) or too much mucus (as with a cold) on or below the vocal folds. The safest and most efficient way to clear mucus is by using a gentle, breathy productive cough where there is high airflow with little sound. This can be achieved by using the following strategy: take in as deep a breath as possible, momentarily hold your breath, and produce a sharp, silent “H” sound while you expel the air.

11. Become aware of your body posture - are you standing/sitting well? Is your breath/voice supported fully?  When you slouch,  your voice and breath will be constricted and you lose power physically and psychologically.  Your body posture empowers your body energy and passion.  Your body is an essential part of non verbal communication and your body must always match your message.  Eg you cannot sing about something joyful whilst being in a closed, head down body posture.   It just does not make sense.  Look at yourself in the mirror as you rehearse you speech or song

12.  We speak more than we sing so be aware of optimal speaking techniquessuch as:

  • Good abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing and support.
  • Using your voice with as little unnecessary effort and tension as possible.
  • Take frequent breaths when speaking long sentences.
  • Maintain a smooth legato speech pattern with clear articulation, avoiding hard glottal attacks.
  • Allow the neck, tongue, jaw, and face to be relaxed.
  • Be aware of you speaking pace if its too fast or too slow
  • Use good vocal inflection and cadence
  • Speak in phrases rather than in paragraphs & breath before each phrase.

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