Eat Right: Fruit, vegetables and nuts are your voice’s best friends. They naturally lubricate your vocal cords; almonds in particular work well with your larynx. I don’t know the science behind it but almonds not only helps with lubricating your vocal cords, they also give it a kind of protective layer.
Avoid dairy and spiky foods before singing. A cow’s milk molecule is 100 times larger than a human’s and dairy food produces mucus around your larynx, making it a struggle to hit those higher and lower notes, as well as affecting the clarity of your voice in general. Now when I mean “spiky” foods, I mean food that isn’t chewed well and swallowed in big lumps scraping your neck as it goes down; not good for your larynx either.
DO NOT SMOKE! Smoking cigarettes and cigars are the single, worst thing that you can do to your vocal cords; many singers I know deeply regret smoking. Smoking damages the cords, changes their shape and, depending on how heavily you smoke, the damage can be irreparable.
If you want that gravelly sound there are natural techniques to do that without risking damage to your lungs by smoking.
Alcohol should be kept to a minimum. A lot of venues used to part pay musicians with alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol diminishes, not enhances your ability to perform. Maybe you’ll feel more at ease but your cords will have to work harder.
If you really must have a drink during performances, keep to lighter mixed drinks and sip throughout the performance. Don’t chug. Manage your nerves consciously and avoid the very real occupational hazard for singers and musicians in general: alcohol and drug abuse.
Keep a good fitness regime. Great for your vocal health, physical health, even mental health. Though when it comes to what types of exercise are best for singers, here are my main three choices:
- Martial Arts. Learn breath control, body movement and overall confidence. Elvis Presley had a black belt in Kenpo – martial arts training informed his quirky dance moves. Hapkido, Shotokan Karate, Brazilian Jujitsu, Aikido, Kenpo and Kung Fu are all great fluid movement styles.
- Yoga. This is great for body alignment and strengthening, managing your emotions and being aware and in control of your body. Yoga emphasizes breath control. Practice for between 20 minutes to 1 hour a day.
- Swimming. This is arguably the best type of exercise for singers because it exercises the whole body simultaneously without any jarring impact. Swimming builds breath control and facilitates the strengthening of the intercostal muscles essential for singing. Mix it up: freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. Watch your posture improve too. The better you get at swimming, the easier you will sing.
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I’ve always loved singing, but I never had the confidence to sing in front of other people. I set my mind to achieve a goal… and that goal was to sing in the local choir. I really needed some help though – I was like a timid mouse and couldn’t project my voice properly. My daughter came across a singing course online called Singorama, and I decided to give it a go. It was exactly what I needed to give me real insight into how the voice actually works and how to improve it. I’m so happy to say, that I am now a lead vocalist in my choir and couldn’t be happier!
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