Vocal Ease Method Voice Lessons

Health and Care of the Singer’s Voice

I knew after writing my blog on Practicing, that this needed to be the next subject.  A dissertation could be written on this subject, but we don’t have time in this small blog, so i’ll touch on a few important principles.

The term vocal CORDS is often referred to as “vocal FOLDS”.  So here you may read cords and folds interchangeably.

LARYNX: Your larynx, like any other organ of your body, is composed of living tissue.  It is possible to abuse your voice without even realizing you are doing so.  Think of the radio foodshow host, Rachel Ray who spent all summer after having had surgery from a cyst on a vocal fold recovering; learning that what had contributed to the cyst growing was that she had poor posture, she talked incorrectly and not in her “speech level” voice.  She talked too high, with- out air support and raised her larynx intermittently.  She often talked and laughed with excessive volume, smiling and going up so high, she talked with tension.  A muscular “battle” took place between her vocal muscles (in the larynx) and the outer muscles.  It led to so much straining and hoarseness that a cyst formed on one vocal fold.

OTHER FACTORS: Many people (myself included through way too many years) imitate the voice or style of a recording artist they admire, and they try to sing in that person’s key, which may be all wrong for them. Their voice and development may not be able to handle what that recording artist is doing. Rock singers and oldies singers  think there audience will know if the key is lowered a half or a whole note and not enjoy the performance. I would be amazed if the audience payed that much attention and had the perfect pitch they’d need to tell the difference.

CORD SHOCK: Excessive coughing, sneezing, throat-clearing and starting your song or statement with a sudden burst of air can strain or even damage the delicate muscle tissue of your cords.

EMOTIONAL STRESS AND FATIGUE: When you are tired, your body is under emotional stress and your neuro-muscular system cannot function properly.  You run the risk of using the wrong singing muscles to assist you through your practicing.

VOCAL VACATION: This merely means to take a vocal rest, eliminating any talking or singing or humming.  Just vacate and yes, this means carrying around a notebook around your neck like Celine Dion and other singers do to communicate with her husband and others during these crucial times.

SOME CAUSES OF VOCAL ABUSE: Talking in a restaurant or bar that is too noisy or has bad acoustics. The “in” thing in some new places is to not install ceiling tiles.  Looks very SOHO but sounds like a very bad choir warming up with a mixture of sounds that you try to overcome by talking more loudly.

Whispering is just as abusive as yelling and can lead to vocal damage, also.  Also talking breathy and singing breathy is not good for your voice.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR VOICE:

* Good Posture, including not shaking your head to the beat of the music while you sing. You may need to have someone check out your posture while you speak or sing to see if your spine seems aligned.
* Drink water, keep your folds hydrated, especially with water.
* Reduce or eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and smoking intake. All of these dry you out, irritating the cords.
* Increase amount of sleep if appropriate.
* Warm up your vocal cords before you lecture or present, or before you sing songs.
* Restrict use of loud voice in windy, cold, or outdoor areas.  In windy, colder conditions, place a scarf around your neck.
* Hormone changes will affect the voice; take care of yourself when these are occurring.
* The environment affects the voice.  Dust, fumes, smog, smoke and other allergens should be kept to a minimum.

REMEDIES THAT DON’T WORK:

Sprays, lozenges, hot tea, honey/lemon preparations. they don’t help you sing better.  Citrus is acidic and drying so orange or tomato juice is not recommended, nor is lemonade.

Whew, this is a long, long blog.  I hope you have found it helpful.  If I left anything out, let me know so I can include it in another piece somewhere.  I can imagine I didn’t cover everything here.  If you take issue with anything or find it offensive, check it out with a vocal doctor or a vocal institute. There is a wonderful institute in Denver, Colorado and another in New York.

Jane

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