Simply put: the healthier your voice, the better you sound. This is a universal truth, whether you casually climb on stage at karaoke or tour the world as a professional singer. Luckily, there are some simple ways that you can help keep your voice healthy.
Below, we’ve detailed a few quick and easy tips for maintaining vocal health that singers at every level can incorporate into their routine to keep their singing voices at peak performance.
Stretch It Out
Singers are athletes, and just like a runner stretching before a jog, it’s important for singers to stretch their voices before they sing anything. If you don’t warm up before a performance, you’re not giving your cords the proper time to loosen up, usually leaving them tense. Additionally, warming up gives you a feel of how you’re going to sound at showtime which is just as important as glancing in the mirror before you leave the house in the morning.
Even in the case of singers, warming up doesn’t start and stop with your vocal cords. You can use a warm-up like a meditation period and take the time to make sure everything is working the way it should. It also gives you time to go back over and trouble spots that you might have in a song, so that you’re not tripped up later on stage.
As we’ve noted before, the best warm-ups start with humming, rolling your lips, and other low-strain vocal workouts.
Maintaining moist vocal cords is a necessary part of being a singer, so it’s extremely important to stay hydrated. And I’m not talking about a pre-show drink, cup of coffee, or even tea. I’m referring exclusively to water.
Alcohol and caffeinated drinks actually leave your cords less flexible than if you had had nothing, causing unnecessary tension. If you’re a coffee drinker, make sure you finish your cup a few hours before you start singing and follow it up with a room temperature glass of water.
Keep Your Chin Down
Whoever was the first person to say “Keep your chin up” was definitely not a singer. When singing, you want to ensure that your spine stays aligned. Jutting your jaw out and upwards can cause a disconnect between your neck and spine, which can restrict the amount of space your vocal cords have to expand and can leave you straining for notes.
If you’re having an issue with your jaw moving out of alignment, try feeling imagining that you’re being lifted as if by a beam from your spine through the top of your head. It helps to feels as though your jaw is relaxed down and back when it opens. A little double chin never really hurt anybody.
How you breathe can either set you up for success or leave you fatigued after your performance. When breathing, you should always make sure the breath is low and round. Think of it like filling an inner tube around your waist and all of the way around to your back.
In order to do this, you have to make sure your posture is your relaxed but engaged, with your body aligned from top to bottom. Two ways to test this would be to stick your tongue out all the way while panting or to lay flat on the floor with one book under your head and one small book on your stomach to watch for low breaths.
High breaths cause tension, irregular vocal cord vibration, and dry vocal cords, and leave you a mess after a performance—sometimes even with serious medical consequences—if not corrected before you start performing. Though it’s difficult to achieve this healthy way of breathing initially, it soon becomes simple muscle memory once you get it right. Just remember: if the breath is high, it doesn’t fly.
As with any and all of these techniques, it’s important that you’re always doing them correctly. One way to ensure this is to practice in front of the mirror or on camera (which can also be a great way to monitor your progress).
And lastly, the most important thing to remember is always to listen to your body first and foremost. If it hurts, don’t do it. Singing should be a lot of mental work, but it should feel easy as long as you’re sticking with healthy vocal techniques.