Vocal Care thoughts

Matt Brown, the Marketing Director at Praise FM in Minneapolis, MN, and also co-founder and director of Think Eternity asked me at a visit a while ago about what I would tell people about vocal care. He speaks and teaches frequently and also teaches evangelism, and he was wondering what I would tell his students about taking care of their voices when they are going to need to use them all the time. He asked me to write some of it down, so Matt, this is for you. 🙂

Couple of first thoughts I have, and I may add to this at a later date.

1) Do not abuse your voice. This may sound stupid, but don’t scream at ballgames, don’t keep talking when you’re sick, if it hurts, quit using it. Don’t push it.

2) When it’s hurt, don’t whisper. Whispering is actually much worse for your voice than just talking. If you’re sick or you’ve overused your voice, talk as little as possible, but when you do talk, do not whisper.

3) Stay hydrated. This is all the time and water is your best friend. If it’s hurting, drink warm water, maybe with ginger in it or lemon, but straight warm water is the best.

4) Avoid caffeine and ice, especially right before singing or speaking. They are the plague. Caffeine makes everything tighten up and causes a lot more wear and tear. Ice will make you cough and coughing is extremely hard on your vocal cords. Don’t believe me, try drinking a glass of ice water and I guarantee you will start clearing your throat or coughing. Trust me – there is a reason that on-air people leave their water bottles in the closet rather than the fridge.

5) Speak in your natural range. Many people try to push their speaking range lower so that they will be taken more seriously. They may not even know they are doing it, but it’s very fatiguing to your chords. Try to speak in your natural range – your voice will last much longer.

6) If it hurts, stop. There is a difference between fatigue and pain. It should never actually hurt to talk or sing, and if it does, stop. You need to recover from something.

7) If you are having unexplained pain (you’re not sick, you weren’t screaming, etc.) check for reflux. It’s extremely common, especially in singers because the way one breathes to sing puts pressure on the sphincter at the base of the esophagus. You can have silent reflux and the only symptom is vocal pain. It’s easy to treat, so check into it.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got off the top of my head. Hope that’s helpful and I’ll post again if I think of more. 🙂

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