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Vocal Health for Singers


Singing students at Grace Music Studio NY, where I teach voice lessons in Park Slope Brooklyn, often ask what can they do to have the best vocal health for singers. Everyone is different but the main things that need to be done are: eat the right foods for you, drink enough water and exercise in a way that creates strong and flexible core muscles. If these are addressed, creating good vocal health for singers should be easy.

Food: Know your body
When a voice lessons student wants to know whether or not they can eat certain foods before they sing I tell them this: Don’t eat things that give you an allergic reaction or cause you to have a lot of mucus.This seems like common sense but for some reason, people think all singers should eat or not eat certain things. This is not true. For some people, dairy causes a lot of mucus, for others it causes an allergic reaction, for others it does nothing. If you are a person who is sensitive to dairy, don’t eat it near the time you have to sing (avoiding it 24 hrs before hand is usually sufficient). It’s not true that everyone should avoid dairy, or any other food for that matter, to maintain good vocal health for singers, it depends on your body’s reaction to the food. I once had a singer tell me not to eat nuts within a week of a performance in case a stray nut accidentally scratched or got caught in my vocal folds. I politely thanked him for the vocal health for singers tip but dismissed it as over-cautiousness. If you are allergic to certain foods or they bother you, don’t eat them, otherwise don’t worry about them.

The body needs sufficient water to produce the mucus membrane on the vocal folds that helps them vibrate correctly. What’s my point? Drink a lot of water; especially in the days leading up to singing. The more hydrated your body is the easier it is to sing. If you are a person who’s throat gets dried out very easily, try to avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar for at least 24 hrs (if not more) before you have to sing. Good vocal health for singers sometimes means giving up things you like to eat or drink, but it’s worth it.

Good vocal health for singers demands getting enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep the body is sluggish in responding to mental commands. Since singing is all about mentally commanding the body to work in order to support and create the pitch, if the body reacts too slowly, you will have technique problems and possibly hurt yourself trying to sing. It’s not that you can’t sing when tired, it just takes twice the amount of focus and focus is also difficult to achieve when exhausted. When tired, good vocal health for singers is very difficult to maintain. If you must sing when sleep-deprived, be careful to execute your technique as perfectly as possible, in other words, don’t let anything slide.

Singing becomes easier the more in shape you are. Good vocal health for singers is dependent upon a strong body to support the sound. Specifically, the abdominal and the core muscles need to be strong in order to sing well. Not only do these muscles need to be strong, they need to be flexible. When a singer is in the middle of singing he/she is using the abdominal and core muscles to support the sound but when the singer stops singing the muscles need to be released to allow more breath in. If the core and abdominal muscles are too tight to release, good vocal health for singers will be impossible to create. Yoga and Pilates are much better choices for singers than doing 100 crunches per day or something similar. These forms of exercise, strengthen the muscles but also lengthen and loosen them, the perfect combination to create and maintain good vocal health for singers.

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