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Keeping The Throat Healthy

"If I cannot fly let me sing." -- Stephen Sondheim.

Singers and speakers alike will often acquire throat irritations. This interferes with the voice and interrupts the singing process. This can be most frustrating, especially when we don't know what causes the irritation. Any type of irritation in the larynx can rob the vocalist of a successful performance. Every singer has a responsibility to learn what to do to avoid throat problems. The tips I'm going to talk to you about are proven -- they've been tried and tested for years among singers from every genre.

  • When we sing loud and long, it is crucial that we use proper breath support to avoid abusing the voice. Always measure the amount of air needed for each phrase. When releasing air as you sing, hold back (suspend) and don't allow all the air to escape at once.
  • A tickle is caused by dryness in the throat. The dryness can cause coughing. To avoid this, drink plenty of room temperature water to keep the vocal cords hydrated. You may also try drinking warm lemon tea, with a small amount of honey before singing. This is better than anything on the market, which really does nothing anyhow.
  • Avoid any yelling, screaming, and extreme temperature changes, such as going from air conditioning to a hot temperature, and vice versa. When we yell or scream, it's much like scratching your vocal cords with your fingernails.
  • Sleeping with a humidifier is necessary for serious singers. The steam from the humidifier, enters the nose and throat, bringing much-needed moisture to the area. This is highly important for those who sleep with the mouth open, which dries out the throat. You can also inhale steam from a hot shower or boiled water (put a towel over your head when inhaling the steam). Be careful not to get a steam burn.
  • Moisture to the throat is needed at all times, particularly when singing and giving speaking presentations. Sip, sip, and then sip some more all day long. Keep a bottle of room temperature water with you at all times. The throat must be wet and moist in order to function well. Soft drinks and fruit juices are no substitute for water.
  • Neverdrink ice cold water, juice, or soda within three to four hours before singing. Cold temperatures restrict the vocal bands, hindering the vibrations needed to produce sound.
  • Avoid coffee on the day you sing. The caffeine in coffee will dry the vocal cords.
  • The same holds true for alcohol, antihistamines, most medications, and of course, smoking (including second-hand smoke and vaping). If you can't control these substances, you're better off not singing. I personally have worked with very famous singers, who smoke, drink, and do drugs and I have witnessed what happens to these voices. Some artists have spent a small fortune for "quick fixes" just to be able to do a concert and sound great. You would be amazed at who these singers are. So do not fall into these bad and destructive habits in the first place. It will take its toll.

"A song will outlive all sermons in the memory." -- Henry Giles

Visit Music Books Plus for a wide variety of books and resources for your vocal performance and care.

Author: Respected vocal coach and professional singer, Audrey Hunt lays it on the line when it comes to the responsibility of singing.

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