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Nazia Chaudhry | Vocal Health

Vocal Health

Voice and Performance

Students always ask about vocal health, so I thought I’d refresh one of my blog post’s with this hot topic. Here are some tips to keep your voice in tip-top shape.

HYDRATION: Drinking water is the best thing you can do to keep your vocal folds hydrated. Although it’s soothing for water to pass through the vocal folds or when your throat is irritated, it takes approximately 20 minutes for water to actually hit your system and hydrate your vocal folds. So, hydrate throughout the day for your voice and health in general. I recommend drinking at least 64 ounces. That’s a little less than two liters per day. If you are not getting that amount of water every day, try to slowly increase your water intake until you reach that goal. Also, eat fruits and vegetables high in water content for hydration and energy.

EATING: Think like an athlete before a performance. Athletes don’t usually stuff themselves with food right before a big game and neither should you. A full stomach inhibits the diaphragm from proper movement, which can make it difficult to take in full and deep breaths. It can also cause burps. On the other hand, don’t starve yourself because you need fuel. Performing requires energy so fuel yourself with the proper nutrition. Have a light meal a couple of hours before a a performance, and if you need to eat in between go for easily digestible food.

ALLERGY RELIEF: Pollen season and other allergies can really irritate the throat and vocal folds, especially if you have post-nasal drip. Prescription and over-the-counter allergy medicine can overly dry out your vocal folds. If it is necessary to take allergy medicine, you must constantly drink water and steam or humidify the air to aid in counteracting the dryness.

FOODS & DRINKS TO AVOID BEFORE A PERFORMANCE:

  • Any ice cold beverage may constrict the throat
  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk, and ice cream can add mucous
  • Spicy foods and coffee (due to the caffeine) can irritate the throat
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and citrus fruits (like lemon or lime) can cause dryness in the throat
  • Soda and carbonated beverages cause air to build in the stomach

SOOTHE AN IRRITATED THROAT:

  • If your throat is irritated, try to avoid warm up/cool down exercises and avoid singing or talking as best as you can. If it is necessary, try humming or lip trill vocal exercises.
  • Avoid clearing your throat and whispering as best as you can. When you clear your throat, it’s like slamming your vocal folds together. Doing it too much can injure them and make your voice hoarse.
  • Whispering causes more strain on the vocal folds and causes more irritation.
  • Avoid harsh household chemicals like bleach
  • Avoid smoking, and smoke-filled areas
  • Keep hydrating with water
  • Humidifiers keep the air moist. Personal steamers are inexpensive and are great for travel.
  • Soothe an irritated throat and improve your complexion by steaming: Boil filtered or distilled water and pour it into a bowl. Get a large towel, lean over the bowl and make a tent to trap the steam by using a large towel over your head. Inhale gently through your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes or until there is no more steam.
  • Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat tea
  • Thayer’s slippery elm lozenges or anything with slippery elm in it
  • Licorice root tea or candy
  • Sunrider Calli or Fortune Delight Tea
  • Honey
  • Vocalzone throat drops
  • Warm, not hot water
  • Herbal / non-caffeinated tea
  • Salt water or Baking soda gargles: Mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda + ¼ teaspoon of salt + 1 cup of warm water. Take in a small amount and alternate gargling at both a high & low pitch. Spit it out and repeat several times.

Visit My Voice and Performance Coach at www.voiceandperformance.com

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