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All I want for Christmas is a Healthy Singing Voice

Top Voice Tips for Singers from Voice Science™
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Maintain a healthy singing voice over the silly season

Christmas is such a wonderful time of year. For some, work is beginning to wind down, and you can see yourself relaxing on a beach with a mojito or three.
Unless if you’re a singer or performer, hitting peak gigging season. December and January bring lots of fun on stage. With that comes a significant increase in vocal usage and vocal load. Rehearsals tend to increase. Late nights accumulate. Noisy gigs… Loads of commitments… All these factors can take a toll on your normally healthy singing voice.
 
No matter the genre you sing- vocal health risks are high if you are a professional voice user. It’s also common for singers & singing teachers to perceive dysphonia at a higher rate.
 
So how are you feeling about your voice this merry time of year? If you after some hot new tips to maintain a healthy singing voice over the gigging season keep reading…

Voice Care Tips for Professional or Recreational Singers

These tips are for anyone who needs to keep their singing voice fresh & in good form over the busy festive months.

1. Increase Your Voice Production Knowledge

If you’re a professional singer, it’s important to know how your voice works. Your voice relies on the coordination of three factors: breath, phonation and resonance.
 
Take a moment to breathe, pause to allow coordination, and then release sound. This might require you to breath earlier before your entry. All singers need to learn how to coordinate the air pressure from the lungs with the voice muscle. This ability will reduce inflammation and keep your singing voice healthy and fresher. Avoid muscle effort and effortful breath. Increased effort will overwork your muscles for singing. Over time this can build up and result in a poor performance or at worst, a voice injury.
Remember, effortful voice is also a risk even when you are amplified or miked. 

Diagnostic Voice Analysis for Singers

Prevent voice damage, manage a heavy gigging schedule, protect your voice health.
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2. Commit to your Vocal Hygiene for a healthy singing voice

Vocal hygiene by itself will not prevent vocal problems but it will make a difference. Practising good voice hygiene sets your voice up for more success. When you have a lot of singing on your plate, this simple strategy can maintain your condition.

3. Stay hydrated, especially as the temperature increases.

One study highlights that dehydration increases vocal roughness. This is because jitter (pitch variation) increases. Hydrated voice users showed increased maximum phonation time and improved vocal quality.
You can boost your hydration via drinking non alcoholic beverages… sorry guys… and through humidification.

4. Throat Clearing Destroys a Healthy Singing Voice

If you feel a slight irritation in your throat do not, under any circumstances throat clear. Instead, take an effortful swallow, a small sip of water, do a resonant hum or a gentle lip trill. These are great alternatives to throat clearing and coughing. Throat clearing damages your voice, increases inflammation and speeds up voice fatigue. It’s never worth it! Try to short circuit the habit.

5. Fry your Eggs, not your Voice

If you need to project your voice, use a resonant voice quality rather than vocal fry. Try and avoid the urge to squeeze to be louder. Trust us; it is counterproductive!
Don’t opt for a breathy sound to speak with mates after a gig when you are vocally tired. It’s better to zip it and get some total voice rest then speak in a whisper.

6. Your Voice needs P.J. time too

Ignore the saying “no rest for the wicked”. Find time in your day to rest and conserve your voice. 

The average male speaking voice vibrates between 90-150 times per second. The average female speaking voice between 160-260 times. That is a lot of muscle movement. Add singing to the mix at higher frequencies and you are going to lose form if you overload yourself.

Take voice rest seriously. 

Overuse alone can lead to chronic inflammation resulting in tissue changes and the growth of lesions.

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7. Vocal Cool down might be a thing to keep your singing voice healthy

There is a lack of data quantifying the positive impact of a cool down routine for singers. We checked for you. Just this week. One study highlights that singers report positive changes to their speaking and singing voices following a cool down. So it may be worthwhile. We will keep you posted on this.
Notice we didn’t tell you to warm up? This is because YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT! Don’t skip your warm up.
Don’t over warm up either. Don’t neglect your custom built exercises for your voice and repertoire. You have to get the voice ready every day. If you are not sure how to do this, book us. We are singing voice consultants and can show you how to warm up therapeutically.

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If singing voice health is a concern for you our Voice Analysis for Singers assessment can assist to diagnose issues impacting on healthy singing voice use.

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8. Chill ma peeps...

Stress can manifest in so many different ways and will impact your voice. Find time to implement self-care strategies over the busy period. We love having a nice hot cup of coffee, going to pilates or walking our dogs. Put some strategies in place to protect your wellbeing to insure your voice for the busy season. Read more about the impact of stress on your voice and communication here. 

Act fast if you notice voice changes

If you have any changes to your voice that last for seven days or more, book an appointment with a speech pathologist, or see your GP for an ENT referral.
Most professional voice users experiencing chronic voice changes are eligible for medicare rebates on speech pathology sessions. Read more about that here.
Our team includes 3 speech pathologist, each with expertise in voice. We are headed up by a Singing Voice Specialist. Read more about how we can assist you to recover or optimise your singing health.
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References

Pestana, P. M., Vaz-Freitas, S., & Manso, M. C. (2017). Prevalence of voice disorders in singers: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of voice, 31(6), 722-727.

 

Pomaville, F., Tekerlek, K., & Radford, A. (2019). The Effectiveness of Vocal Hygiene Education for Decreasing At-Risk Vocal Behaviors in Vocal Performers. Journal of Voice.

 

Ragan, K. (2016). The impact of vocal cool-down exercises: A subjective study of singers’ and listeners’ perceptions. Journal of Voice, 30(6), 764-e1.

 

Speech Pathology Australia. (2019). FS15 Voice. Retrieved from https://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/SPAweb/Resources_for_the_Public/Fact_Sheets/SPAweb/Resources_for_the_Public/Fact_Sheets/Fact_Sheets.aspx?hkey=e0ad33fb-f640-45b1-8a06-11ed2b73f293

 

Van Wyk, L., Cloete, M., Hattingh, D., van der Linde, J., & Geertsema, S. (2017). The effect of hydration on the voice quality of future professional vocal performers. Journal of Voice, 31(1), 111-e29.

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