Welcome to Your Head!
We all have been conquering the common cold! As singers, vocal hygiene is very important. I am amazed and alarmed about how we are when we have allergies, sore throats, and/or hoarseness – we can be so cavalier about the impact on our voices. These symptoms are indications that self-care is a pressing issue. We would never expect a football player to play with a sprained ankle!
Here are 8 ways you can practice vocal hygiene during the winter months (and all year long):
- Drink water.
- Wash your hands.
- Keep fingers away from your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Humidify your home.
- Use a personal steamer.
- Neti pot once a day.
- Wait 2 hours after eating before going to bed.
- Reduce or eliminate consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
8 Steps to Vocal Hygiene
- Drink water – Helps flush the cells and keeps the vocal cords plumped and flexible.
- Wash your hands – Germs be gone! Remember to wash after playing studio pianos, restrooms, before meals!
- Keep fingers away from mouth, nose and eyes. – Germs can’t infect you if they can’t get inside you.
- Humidify your home – Colds happen most during winter months when we begin to heat our homes. The heat warms up the room but dries out our nasal passages. Germs love dry, dark places. Sneezing is our bodies beautiful way of extricating germs. Running noses serve the same purpose!
- Use a personal steamer – Skip the Vicks, which can dry you out! Use only water!
- Neti pot once a day – I have many friends who have added this practice to their morning routine. Personally, this one is difficult for me, but I’m pretty good about doing this regularly. Its principle is to rinse the nasal and sinus passages which flushes out germs and adds moisture to these areas.
- Try to eat 2 hours prior to reclining for bed – This practice is helpful in preventing GERD or acid reflux. Give your food time to pass through the stomach so acid it does not have a chance to back up into the throat and “burn” the vocal area. If you have dry mouth in morning, ask “Did I sleep with my mouth open? Or did I eat too close to bedtime?”
This is a habit I’m trying to develop! I do know first-hand when I did a cross-country audition tour in 2009 that we ate early in the day and checked-in to hotels only to go straight to bed. No food before bed! I would wake every day ready to sing! I didn’t need warm-ups to rebuild my voice and sing above the dryness.
- Reduce or eliminate consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Most of you are under-age, so in short: no alcohol. Watch the caffeine, too. These substances dry out the respiratory system. Speaking of substances, definitely no smoking or drugs. (That goes without explanation, right?)
In short, we don’t need to live like nuns and monks. Just practice some common sense and develop the habit of considering your voice in everyday life. It’s your instrument – handle it with care and you can sing your whole life.
Now, go wash your hands and practice!