Last week we discussed vocal health tips as the seasons turn to colder weather and shorter days, courtesy of Seattle vocal teacher Nicole G. Today we have five more tips to keep in mind. Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday season!
6. Invest in a humidifier! A humidifier is an essential tool for the fall/winter months. The more moisture there is in the air, the less likely your throat is going to feel dry or hoarse. It does not need to be expensive – it just needs to work! When we have the heat on in the house, the dry heat can also affect the moisture of the vocal folds. This is another good reason to drink plenty of water and to use a humidifier.
7. If you are using your voice a lot, make sure to take breaks throughout the day. Between school, voice lessons, choir rehearsals, musical rehearsals, performances, presentations, telephone calls, leisure time, etc., singers and public speakers use their voices MUCH more frequently than most people, so we have to keep track of our voices more diligently. Especially if you are new to singing, or if you want to become more aware of yourself, keep a journal of your daily voice usage and when you take active vocal rest. Vocal rest means no talking, no singing and no whispering. If you are consistently using your voice by talking or singing for an hour, then the next 30 minutes to an hour should be spent resting. Use your judgment in long rehearsals.
8. Avoid eating late at night. Ideally, it is best for your digestion to not eat anything three hours before you go to bed. When we lay down after eating, the acid from our stomach has the potential to flow back up or regurgitate into the esophagus (also known as acid reflux or GERD). This inflammation can spread to the larynx (voice box) and the pharynx (the back wall of the throat), causing irritation and discomfort. It’s important to recognize the correlation between your eating habits and the symptoms of reflux.
9. If your voice or the surrounding area near your larynx (throat, tongue, glands) feels hoarse, tight or achy, DO NOT TALK OR SING! Vocal rest is the BEST medicine to heal swollen folds.
10. If you feel stressed about school, work, the holidays, family or anything else, take care of your physical and emotional needs! Speak to someone you can trust, write in a journal, read a fun book, and give yourself time to unwind. Give attention to your feelings, and commit to daily self-awareness practice. Lay on the floor and close your eyes, and focus on your body and what is going on in your mind. Are your thoughts racing? Is the room spinning? Focus your attention in the now, the present moment. Often we can get stuck on what has happened in the past or what MIGHT happen in the future. Our physical well-being and emotions are a major influence on vocal health. The more we can reduce stress, the healthier and happier our voices will be!
Nicole G. teaches singing, music theory, Opera voice and speaking voice lessons to students of all ages in Seattle, WA. With her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Ithica College School of Music, she is now pursuing a professional certificate program at Cornish College of the Arts. She joined the TakeLessons team in October 2012. Learn more about Nicole, or search for a teacher near you and sign up today!