Vocal health is a broad spectrum term for the general well-being of your vocal cords. It involves protecting the vocal cords from potential unforeseen damage, often caused by an irregularity in singing, and keeping your vocal cords strong.
Vocal health is highly important to singers because the vocal folds are so delicate. I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts in regards to maintaining good vocal health as well as a list of things to avoid.
Vocal Health Do’s
1. Do exercise regularly. Good physical health correlates directly with good vocal health. I am including diet within this mix of exercise. Regular exercise (especially cardio exercise) is extremely beneficial for the vocal cords because it allows a sufficient amount of blood flow to the vocal cords and, in the long run, helps you better regulate and control your breath. Exercise combined with a healthy diet is an excellent step in the direction of maintaining vocal health.
2. Do eat healthy foods. Going along with the point above, eating healthy foods stimulates your overall well-being. When you are in a positive mood, you tend to sing with a brighter vocal tone. Eating healthy foods and dieting will also keep excess weight off of your throat, which reduces the amount of strain on your vocal cords.
3. Do drink plenty of water. You can never drink too much water as a singer. Your vocal cords thrive on moisture. While dry vocal cords can be used for stylistic purposes, it is not healthy to keep them in this state. Drinking plenty of water ensures that your vocal cords will be able to sustain vocalizing for a long period of time.
Vocal Health Don’ts
1. Do not sing with increased amounts of tension. If you find that you are having to constantly push your voice to hit certain notes, you are singing with too much breath pressure and engaging too many outer larynx muscles. This necessarily causes excess tension and strain on your voice. In the case of your vocal cords and vocal health, do not do this for an extended period of time. It is very dangerous and unhealthy.
2. Do not sing in a tessitura that is continually engaging the extremes of your vocal range. Constantly singing very high notes or very low notes has an adverse effect on your vocal cords and causes substantial wear and tear. Even those who understand proper vocal technique should avoid singing consistent high or low notes for an extended period of time.
3. Do not sing without having a vocal warm up. You cannot realistically expect to sing with power and presence for long bits without engaging in some sort of vocal warm up. While vocal warm up routines differ from singer to singer, it is vital that you warm up in some manner before you attempt to sing.
Things to Avoid
1. Avoid overexposure to smoke, smog and pollutants. Smoking is a definitive no-no in terms of vocal health. Be aware of your environment and try to keep away from pollutants as best as possible.
2. Avoid screaming, shouting, excessive hard laughter, etc. All of these things encourage increased breath pressure which cause strain and stress on the vocal cords.
3. Avoid (if possible) dry climates. Like I said before, moisture is like oil to your vocal cords. If you live in an arid climate (a mountainous area, for example), consider purchasing a humidifier.
4. Avoid using analgesics (e.g. throat lozenges) when singing. While analgesics can soothe your voice, they tend to give you the impression that you are healthy and cover up the fact that your vocal cords still need to heal. Don’t fool yourself – don’t sing until you have overcome your sickness.
I hope you have found this list to be helpful to you. Remember, vocal health is crucial to a long-lasting voice!