So my students and friends have been asking me a lot of questions about general voice care and tips and I thought it would be great to blog about it!
3 Most important things for all singers are
1] a fit body
2] The ability to relax immediately
3] Mastery over breath.
This is because for singers, their body is their vocal instrument, and one sings on voiced breath! Well, you may ask, why voiced breath? Can you try to sing without breath? It’s not possible!
Here are some very general voice care notes:
Basic Fitness :
• You must maintain good general health. Sleep well each day. Get adequate rest to minimize fatigue. Life can get very busy and hectic and at such moments, you could at least try and get power naps!
• Exercise regularly. Physical/ cardio activities like running, cycling, etc. are excellent to strengthen and regulate natural breathing mechanism. Personally, i love to run for about 30 to 45 minutes !! You could also start small with things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, some ab crunches and squats at home, etc.
• Eat a balanced diet, including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Its necessary to replenish the energy we burn out, when we perform.
•While every body is different, through prior experience, one will know best, what diet, food items (especially cold or hot) or activities affect or don’t affect one’s voice/ health. It’s not the same for every person and hence, no specific restrictions.
Vocal fitness :
• Maintain body hydration; drink a lot of water daily. Also, Steaming is great for the voice as it provides direct hydration to your vocal cords.
• Avoid breathing smoggy, polluted air or things that irritate the throat. You can carry a handkerchief and cover yourself.
• Limit the use of your voice in noisy parties and noisy environments like planes.
• Avoid whispers. Sometimes, we squeeze our vocal cords tightly together to produce a whisper or clear our throat, which is more traumatic and causes more stress or irritation to the delicate vocal cords. Instead of whispering, you’d rather speak in proper tone. Avoid throat clearing and voiced coughing. When you feel like, you could try to dry swallow or have a good big sip of warm water. Sometimes, I also like to have Haldi milk (Turmeric/golden latte) or honey and ginger in water or beverages or in my food items. They help if you have some kind of irritation in the throat.
• Sometimes, we tend to speak too fast or without breathing well. You may avoid that by speaking in phrases rather than in paragraphs, and by breathing well, before each phrase.
Yoga and Meditation are great for singers and artists. Especially breathing exercises in Yoga like Kapalabhatti, Anuloma-Viloma and other pranayams, and Yoga Asanas or poses like Shavasana – Corpse pose, Sarvangasana – Shoulder stand, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) or any other poses that stretch and lengthen the spine, or broaden your chest, or focus on the core are great for singers. In terms of meditations, personally, i like the Vipassana Meditation and Chakra meditations, but you can also look up simple guided meditations on Youtube.
It helps to relax deeply, reduce muscle tensions, improve flexibility and blood circulation, helps to focus and concentrate better, enhances energy and strength, etc. It is also great for people with respiratory problems.
Corrective Practice Routine :
•Stretching, Body warm-ups, Breathing exercises followed by Vocal warm-ups like scales, trills, etc. should always be done prior to singing.
•Always relax any neck, jaw, face & shoulder tension while singing.
•Vocal cool-downs are also essential to keep the singing voice healthy. Some of the best ways are to just do lip trills and scales in descending order. Breathing exercises are great as cool downs too.
•A good, relaxed, aligned and noble posture must be maintained throughout to achieve free and full sound ! Read this amazing article on Breath and Posture by my teacher Gilles Denizot | Opera Labs
So that’s about it!
It’s so basic, that everyone can do, and with a little help, I strongly believe that everyone can sing too! If you have more suggestions to the voice care notes, please feel free to add them in the comments below 🙂
Happy singing ! 🙂