Having a healthy voice should be a part of your every day routine. Just by taking better care of your voice you can greatly improve your vocal health. If you are having vocal problems and are experiencing fatigue and hoarseness regularly, please see a professional voice doctor right away. Catching problems early is the key to turning them around quickly.
1. Humidity is a singer’s best friend. The ideal humidity level for singers is 60%. Boiling one pot of water in a 600 sq. ft. apartment will usually reach 60% in 1 hour. For frequent travelers, run the shower in your hotel room every morning and evening for 20 minutes with the bathroom door open. You can also use a humidifier, but it must be on all the time (be sure to clean humidifiers every other day with water and vinegar as mold spores develop quickly). Get a humidity thermometer to read your levels.
2. Drink 8 -10 glasses of water per day to stay adequately hydrated (the equivalent of four 1 liter bottles).
3. Do not talk over loud music and try not to “glottal” (strike the vocal cords). Do not whisper as it strains the voice.
4. Do yoga (or stretches) and breathing exercises daily. Vocal problems come from deep contractions in the muscles of the neck, tongue, jaw, back, and diaphragm. A loose and limber body helps avoid injury.
5. I recommend going for massage 1 or 2x a week for the next month – have the masseuse focus on your stomach, ribs, abs and neck/ shoulders/upper back/jaw/throat as well as all over body. With my students, I provide vocal massage sessions to release the jaw, tongue, throat/vocal muscles and neck and upper back and diaphragm – and teach singers self massage to help them stay free of tension as much as possible.
6. Acupuncture for the voice reaps great results. Acupuncture works on the central nervous system and energy centers of the body to get your natural healing energy flowing. Once or twice a week treatments are very helpful in restoring vocal health.
7. Do speaking exercises to find your optimal voice placement. And be sure to warm up and cool down before and after performances every time to avoid vocal wear and tear.
8. Stay away from smoky environments and use Vocal Eze Throat Spray 3-4x per day (endorsed by tons of rock stars). Spray 5-6 times at the back of the throat, tip head back and let it stay for a few moments before swallowing.
9. Gargle with warm salt water daily; use Neil Med saline rinse every day as well (available at most drug stores); and drink Throat Coat tea (available at health food stores).
10. Steam 3x a day – breathe in hot water/steam for 10min
11. Consume foods with a high water content:
a. Fruits and Veggies: Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, papaya, strawberries/ blueberries (all berries), romaine lettuce, celery, water chestnuts, bok-choy, carrot/celery juice, etc., b. Salads are your new BF. Salads should be your main meal twice a day. Fresh foods have living enzymes and high nutritional content. Great for staying healthy and avoiding acid reflux and digestive disorders. c. Soups with broth base (no tomato or cream). d. Stop eating all fried foods (for at least one month), no citrus, no peppermint, chocolate or marinara sauce.
12. Take whole food supplements daily – Take:
a. A daily vitamin ~ most important! b. Favorite Flora will help reverse acid reflux c. Perilla Sinus is the best supplement on the market for folks with allergies.
13. Natural medicine:
a. Homeopathy ~ Take Sore Throat/Hoarseness (homeopathic name is Roxalia) – by Boiron. This remedy reduces inflammation at the vocal folds. Take 3 days on 5 days off until symptoms subside. b. Herbs & Supplements c. Take Crystalline, non-acidic Vitamin C Powder daily. Take one heaping teaspoon in a 1/2 glass of juice daily. d. Stay healthy with Thieves lozenges and mouthwash and by using Oscillicoccinum and Coldcalm at the first sign of infection.
14. Get 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is the way your body and mind recharge and rejuvenate. Without sleep, a singer’s voice is always tired which is a sure thing for vocal problems. If you have trouble sleeping, I do not recommend a pharmaceutical solution. Try melatonin right before bed. Usually does the trick. For a milder approach try a cup of chamomile tea or 10-15 drops of valerian root (herbal tincture) in water. A bath before bedtime and/or breathing exercises for 10 minutes will also help you drift off to sleep more easily.
15. Stay Away From:
b. All fried foods
e. Carbonated beverages ~ all soda and sparkling water
h. Cooked tomato sauce (marinara)
i. White flour (including white rice and pasta, pastries etc.)
A note about pharmaceutical medicine:
Personally I do NOT take pharmaceutical medicine of any kind unless it is an emergency. For those of you who need medication, I don’t recommend immediately going off your medication. I do however recommend getting into health by reading books and educating yourself. Supplement your daily nutrition with whole food supplements and use products without chemicals to get your body back in balance. Natural medicines like homeopathy and herbs are extremely effective along with eating more naturally. It may take longer than popping a pill, but will not create the toxicity/chemical overload you get from pharmaceutical meds. This does not suggest you stop taking medicine prescribed to you. Discuss alternative treatments with your doctor first and visit a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to get off medication long term.