Healthy Voices

WARM UP WITH LIP BUZZES OR TRILLS

Press you lips tightly together and hum -- creating a buzzing sound -- sliding through your range as though you were a crazy roller coaster going up, down, and all around. This simple exercise creates air pressure behind your vocal cords, pushing them open and making them relax on a cushion of air while preventing them from slamming together like they do when you are full-on singing. Do this for about five minutes, then wrap up by humming the "Star Spangled Banner" which has a nice range of pitches and try to remember how relaxed your vocal cords feel. (This is the feeling you are aiming for when your are singing.) After you have done this, yawn a few times, and then sing a few notes with that yawning-throat. You will most likely have a surprisingly clear tone to your voice. It makes a great cool-down for after singing too, since it will soothe and relax your vocal cords. 

 

COVID VACCINATONS

After the long season of COVID, EncoreKC! Chorus started up again in the Summer of 2022 but with the requirement for all members to have proof of "full vaccination" and to wear masks at all times. EncoreKC! Chorus stopped wearing masks in the fall of 2023 but still required all participants to have proof of COVID vaccination to participate. As a result, almost all of the members have been fully vaccinated and most are keeping up with the updated boosters. There is no longer a mandatory proof of vaccination, nor is there a mask made, however, following CDC guidelines, members are still strongly encouraged to be vaccinated and to stay current with their boosters.

 

SINGING FOR LIFE

Keeping your voice healthy is something that does not just happen. It is important to be intentional and learn healthy vocal habits. If you love to sing, there is no reason, barring a significant health crisis, why you should ever have to stop singing during your lifetime. A few simple routines can not only keep your voice healthy, but can actually improve you voice quality and help you feel better, too.

 

HYDRATE

You already know that hydration is important, but did you know that you should hydrate generously and continually, but not so much right before a concert? Drinking a little extra before the concert can, in fact, make you feel worse. You should also avoid cold drinks which can cause the vocal cords to tense up. Drinking caffeinated beverages or consuming dairy isn't good either. Caffein is a diuretic and causes blood vessels to constrict. Dairy products create an excess amount of mucus that can be supremely annoying. 

 

AVOID NSAIDS

Ibuprofin, Excedrin, Aleve and aspirin all thin the blood vessels and make them vulnerable to hemorrhaging. This can cause irreversible damage for your vocal cords. 

 

AVOID DAIRY, SUGAR, HOT, AND ICED DRINKS

Consuming dairy products of any kind increase mucus production. Overly hot or iced drinks affect the nerves in your vocal cords and create inflammation, so opt for room-temperature liquids like herbal teas with honey. Those yummy ice cream sundaes? Ouch. Those can be particularly lethal --  with the cold ice ream creating mucus and irritating nerves, and the high concentration of sugar in toppings like caramel and hot fudge setting off inflamation that can take you days to recover from.

 

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU SPEAK

Learn how to avoid your vocal "fry" (that gravelly sound so popular with "influencers") as well as how to breathe low and gently, supporting "from your lower back." (Learn more by Googling "vocal fry".)

 

WARM GINGER-LEMON-HONEY "TEA"

This simple recipe is almost magical. The ginger reduces inflammation, the lemon clears away mucus, the honey protects your mouth and throat, and the warmth will relax your vocal cords. It is quick, easy, and uses ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Here is the recipe:

  • 6 - 8 oz. hot water
  • Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ginger (from your spice rack)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • A generous squeeze of good-quality honey

Let it cool to lukewarm and feel the difference it makes! Note: you can make it extra-wonderful by grating fresh ginger, adding it to about two cups of water, and letting it simmer on your stovetop for 5-10 minutes. Strain out any solids. You can keep the "ginger tea" in your refrigerater for up to a week. Try experimenting with the strength according to your taste by using more or less water. Drink a cup before rehearsals, before practicing at home, to recover after singing, or any time you just want a boost. 

 

EXERCISE

Just like the rest of you benefits from regular exercise, so does your voice -- it's a muscle too (a pair of them, to be anatomically accurate). Gentle vocal exercises performed daily can help you glide between your vocal registers as well as help you maintain -- and even increase -- your range. Try looking up Jeff Rolka on YouTube and do a search for his warm-ups. He has them for all vocal ranges.

 

HOW SINGING AFFECTS OUR HEALTH

* Singing informs the body the "right" vibrations that increase our vitality;

* During singing, special chemicals are produced in the human brain that help us feel peace and joy;

* Singing improves blood circulation in the throat area, which has a beneficial effect on the vocal cords, plums and numerous lymph nodes in the throat and therefore significantly increases local immunity (in other words, we less often get colds);

* Improving the blood supply while singing leads to an increase in brain activity: it begins to work more intensively, memory improves, any information is easier to perceive;

* Singing is very beneficial for lung diseases, as it works as a breathing gymnastics, which promotes chest development, proper breathing, and significantly reduces the number of acute lung conditions;

* With regular singing, the levels of immunoglobulin and hydrocortizone, which are signs of good immunity, increase in the body;

* Methods have been developed that treat hiccups through singing and help improve diction;

* Singing is even used in the fight against obesity: sometimes it is available to overweight people when they feel hungry instead of eating, sing two or three songs.

* Singing improves blood supply to the head area and generally rejuvenates the body, skin condition improves.

Experts recommend singing at least 5 minutes a day, equating singing to physical exercise.

 

Via AdiDisha Yoga

 

KEEP LEARNING

We have an amazing resource right here in the Kansas City area, and it is called the INSTITUTE FOR HEALTHY SINGING. This dedicated group of professionals has done an incredible amount of research and has touched many lives across the globe. Click the link above to learn more. And HERE we have some additional suggestions for what to eat and drink to keep your voice healthy and happy. We are in this with you, because we want you to be able to sing every day of your life.

 

 

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