There are many important reasons to stay hydrated for general health, but for musicians – particularly vocalists – hydration is a key to success. In order for your body to function properly, hydration is vital. Our bodies are made of 70% water, and hydration affects every organ and cell in your body!
Hydration for Singing
Singers need to take extra precautions, because your entire body is your instrument. With excessive use, vocal cords can be easily damaged, as they are made of extremely delicate tissue.
If you allow yourself to become dehydrated, your voice may suffer. Whether we are speaking, singing, or humming, the sound is created by the vibration of our vocal folds. Mucus protects these vocal cords, and staying hydrated ensures that everything is working properly. If you are even slightly dehydrated, your vocal fold tissues may become dry and even permanently injured.
However, simply drinking water right before a performance is not good enough! In order to keep your vocal folds truly hydrated, you need to be drinking water throughout the day. Keeping hydrated will also help to keep your throat and mouth lubricated, making speaking and articulation easier as well.
Signs of Vocal Dehydration
If you are using your voice professionally, or even as a casual singer, you should be able to recognize these signs of dehydration:
- Dry/scratchy throat
- The need to clear your throat often
- Dark yellow urine
- You require more effort to use your voice
- Excessive thirst
Benefits of Hydration for Singing
When you keep properly hydrated, you are setting yourself up for good voice quality. Most experts recommend drinking 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily to ensure this.
What to Watch
Certain things can cause dehydration, as well. Here are a few to watch out for, as they may reduce your body’s fluids:
- Caffeine and alcohol intake should be decreased, as both act as diuretics.
- Air conditioning and heaters tend to dry your secretions. Using a humidifier during sleeping hours to offset these effects may be helpful.
- Dry climates, especially in the winter months, are dehydrating to your body. If you are in a dry environment be sure you are keeping hydrated with adequate water consumption.
- Some medications can dry out your vocal cords. Try to avoid medications such as antihistamines and decongestants.
- Milk and sugary beverages, as well as carbonated beverages, may cause thickened mucus secretions.
Once you fully understand how to stay hydrated, monitoring yourself will require little to no effort. And once you see the positive effect it has on your vocal health, keeping that habit will seem like a no-brainer!
Photo by vicio2