Many singers develop vocal problems simply due to negligence regarding their vocal health. Here at TVS we like to use the term “Vocal Athletes” because that’s exactly what singers are! We’re athletes. Just like a sprinter would, we take our muscles and physiology to the limit by performing high intensity activities. For us, It so happens to be that the activity we perform is done by smaller internal muscles instead of externally visible muscles like your legs.
For this, it’s important to remember that as singers we still need to take care of our bodies and our muscles (like any athlete would) in order to perform at our peak and prolong our singing careers for as long as possible. Follow these simple steps and you’d be well on your way to a long and healthy vocal career!
Rest, Rest, Rest!
One of the most important things you need to consider regarding your vocal health is to recuperate from all the training and performance time you put into your vocal development. Remember, you need to schedule time to give your voice and body a chance to rest up and recuperate.
Singing with a tired voice won’t do you any favors because your vocal folds swell up when overworked which makes singing even more difficult. Thus, if you keep going you enter into a vicious cycle of the vocal folds swelling up and you pushing more to sing until an injury happens.
Instead of pushing with a tired voice, schedule time to rest on a regular basis and listen to your body’s needs. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel well rested and speak as little as possible after intense vocal activity (be it training or a performing). You’ll find that your voice will feel better and you’ll feel with more energy overall which might make your training sessions more efficient as well.
Don’t Ever Skip Warm Ups and Cool Downs
We can’t stress enough the importance of warm ups and cool downs to your vocal health. Yes, they get your voice ready for a productive singing session; but they also prevent vocal injuries by gradually conditioning the vocal mechanism to the high intensity levels at which your vocal folds perform at when singing. Just remember that balance is key and although very important, warm ups aren’t meant to be full on training sessions. 15-20mins of onsets and sirens should do the trick most of the time. In short, the goal is to get your voice ready to perform/work, not tire you voice out before your training session even begins.
Likewise, a short cool down (5-10mins) after each singing session helps to gradually relax those muscles that activate during singing. What’s more, cool downs help prevent vocal fatigue and hoarseness after singing as they help reduce the size of the blood vessels that naturally fill up during intense vocal fold activity.
Address the Root Cause of Vocal Health Issues
Even if you sleep your 8 hours a night, take vocal rest days, and do your warm ups and cool downs rigorously…You might still find yourself with a tired voice or with vocal discomfort from time to time for a variety of reasons. In these situations, it might be helpful to use things like warm ginger tea, steamers, or inhalers (These are great because they’re specifically made for singers) to temporarily relieve discomfort and help with recovery time.
That being said, please don’t over rely on these aids to fix your singing problems. You need to find the root cause of the vocal health issues so that you can truly fix them! If your voice is suffering because of singing tension, you better be working on your singing technique to fix that tension instead of simply drinking mint tea and lozenges to get a quick relief and do the same thing all over again tomorrow.