Many singers (regardless of their level!) neglect the importance of vocal health. With singing, our body is our instrument and it should be maintained with the utmost care and compassion. This blog post will give you some practical tips to keep your instrument in tip top shape and sounding its best!
Singing is a physical activity which requires a lot of energy. Ensuring that you are sleeping at least 7-9 hours per night is the first step in protecting your voice's health. If your body is tired, you may find it harder to support your sound from your abdomen and your technique may suffer. As well as physical rest and sleep, there may be times when you will need to rest your voice. If singing feels uncomfortable or strained, taking a day or two off of practice can help revive your voice.
Staying hydrated should be a top priority for all singers. Every body needs a different amount of water each day (the average is around 2-3 litres per day). Another way you can apply direct hydration to your vocal chords is by steaming. You can avail of steaming devices in most pharmacies or simply use a bowl of hot water. Singers may steam before and/or after their practice to help with direct hydration. After steaming, you should not speak or sing for 15 minutes, as the vocal chords require time to cool down. Humming is a good way to ease into singing after steaming.
It is really important to warm up your voice before singing. An athlete wouldn't run a marathon without stretching their muscles and warming up...the same goes for singers! Each singer knows which warm-up suits them best but it is recommended that your warm-up includes some form of breathing exercises, coloratura flexibility exercises, and some SOVTEs (semi-occluded vocal tract exercises), such as rolled rs, raspberries, or lip trills.
The last (and probably most important) piece of advice is to know your own instrument, aka knowing your own voice. Some people need much more vocal rest than others. Some people can sing for days on end and not get tired. Some people are stronger in their higher range and some in their lower. Knowing your own voice is imperative as you are aware of the care your vocal limits and needs. Do not compare your voice, nor your vocal needs to others. The beauty of singing as an art form is that each and every voice is unique!