Vocal Health ~ Three Essential Points:

1. POSTURE: A relaxed, poised yet flexible upright position with both feet on the ground, slightly apart (ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over feet.) The chest should be open and sternum slightly elevated, head slightly lifted so as to open the throat and keep the breath flowing without obstructions. The stomach muscles should be flexible.

2. BREATH: Always support the voice: take deep, conscious breaths and allow the stomach muscles to expand outward as you breathe in. Be conscious of the back and sides of your ribcage as they also expand while you take in air. Control the amount of outgoing breath by using the stomach muscels and keeping the ribcage open to avoid all the air from leaving the lungs at once. Make sure that all the air has left your lungs before breathing in again (get rid of excess air if needed.)

3. WARM-UPS: Always warm up the voice before you start singing music. Starting with a "lip-roll" exercise can be helpful to ensure relaxation of the jaw and throat, and it wakes up the breathing mechanism. Warm-ups can be a number of excercises that work for you personally, but should include several scales and arpeggios on different vowels and vowel-combinations.  They should range from small intervals to scales and/or broken chords spanning more than an octave. Including the "mmm" and "nnn" vowels usually help in finding resonance.  It is good to get into a warm-up routine, but make sure to mix up the scales and arpeggios regularly to keep yourself on your toes! 


Additional Tips for Good Vocal Health

The voice is a fragile and sensitive instrument and you can safely assume that when something is bad for your general health, it will be bad for your voice as well. However, here are a few do's and don'ts to keep in mind which pertain to vocal health in particular:

- Always drink enough water to keep your vocal chords and muscles well lubricated.

- Minimize caffeine intake, especially right before singing. Caffeine has a drying effect on the body, and will make the throat dry and scratchy. Spicy food and alcohol also have the same effect. If you must have your morning coffee or tea before singing, make sure to follow it up with plenty of water.

- If you have a cold, always make sure to nurse your vocal chords well. Steam baths and (herbal) steam inhalations  are particularly beneficial.

- Never sing when you have a throat infection or other afflication of or in the larynx.  Do not sing again until the condition has completely passed. If you have a head cold or bronchial cold, and you feel up to singing, there is less risk for the vocal chords to come to harm, but it is still best to give the voice a rest until you are entirely healed.

- Avoid having to speak at the top of your voice in loud and noisy environments. This puts a huge strain on the vocal chords. If you do find yourself in this situation, make sure you project the voice well and support it with the breath. If you have strained your voice, it is best to not sing for one or two days afterwards to ensure proper recuperation.

- Maintain a regular and sufficient sleep pattern.

- Don't overdo it. Give your voice a well-deserved rest once in a while.