Whether you’re an opera singer, voice-over artist, musical theatre diva, or trying to project that Hamlet monologue to the little old lady in the back row- you’re going to need to know how to keep your voice healthy.
Here are some tips and tricks to maintaining your vocal well-being.
1. The Mucus Buster
Can’t sing in that adorable ‘Little Red’ voice because of a nasty cold? The Mucus Buster from LA’s REAL, RAW, LIVE juice bar has saved the day many a time, for many an actor. Don’t live in LA? No problem, make your own homemade elixir with filtered water, the juice from a couple of lemons, a pinch of ginger, a few dashes of cayenne pepper, and a splash of agave or honey. This bad boy will break up mucus and get you back to hitting those high notes again in no time.
2. Vocal Rest
Stop talking. Seriously. Sometimes it’s all you need to get back in the swing of things. This is your career and your livelihood so don’t be afraid of looking like a diva in front of your friends. “I can’t, I’m on vocal rest,” should be your new mantra. Plus, it’s a great excuse to stay in and watch old Frasier episodes.
3. Don’t Over-Caffeinate.
Have your fix and stay hydrated too. Try to drink two glasses of water for every cup of coffee. That’s an exact science. …Okay, well, not exactly, but you get the idea.
4. Beware of Dairy.
If you have a big audition and you want to play it safe- stay away from dairy. It produces phlegm and can muddy up your chords making those crisp clean notes sound muddled.
5. Don’t get Sick.
It may seem inevitable, but when you’re paycheck is on the line do all you can to avoid illness. Stock up on Echinacea, wash your hands more often, and listen to the advice your mother used to give and don’t touch your nose, eyes, or mouth- that’s how the germs get in! But of course, beware of taking things too far.
Obvious, yet often over-looked. Too much speaking/singing plus not enough water equals rough vocals.
7. Throat Coat.
This magical tea that has gotten many a voice-over artist through a four-hour long session of video-game attack cries. If you haven’t experienced the wonders of this little tea pouch then scoot on over to your local market and buy up the whole supply- you’ll be happy you did.
8. Steam Saunas
Tea may soothe the throat, but steam will revitalize your vocal chords. Find a wet steam sauna near you and relish the steam-beauty treatment; a makeover for your skin and your vocal chords all in one.
9. More Steam
If you don’t live near a gym or spa with a steam sauna then try these tricks:
-A steamy hot shower.
-Holding your face over a boiling pot with a towel over your head. (Use Caution)
-Buy an at-home facial steamer like THIS ONE:
10. Hire a voice instructor
It may have been a while since you’ve brushed up on your scales with an actual voice teacher. Having a pair of outside eyes on you to make sure you’re breathing correctly and using proper posture is always beneficial.
11. Warm Up
It’s obvious to warm up before a big singing audition but sometimes we brush it off when it comes to that commercial copy- the next thing you know you’re being directed to scream like a possessed demon and you’re kicking yourself for not running through some scales first. Always warm up because you never know when your agent’s going to say, “Hey, this screaming baby copy just came in, want to give it a whirl?”
Have you been holding your breath in your chest? Are you clenching in your throat? Without proper breath support, you could be straining your voice. Check that you haven’t fallen into any bad habits. Lay back and meditate and work on that breath lowering in your belly.
13. Bust Out That Alexander Technique
Get out a pile of books to prop up your head and re-visit some of your old favorite Alexander postures. This can help to realign and prevent you from holding tension in the body causing vocal strain. F.M. Alexander, a Shakespearian actor who continually lost his voice, created the technique in the 1890s. Read about F.M. Alexander’s work here: http://www.alexandertechnique.com
14. Wedge Pillow
If you suffer from Acid Reflux you might be hurting your vocal chords while you’re asleep and not even realize it. The acid comes up while you’re lying down and burns your chords. Try THIS wedge pillow to keep propped up at night- it’s cheap and pretty comfy too.
*TheatreNerds is not a doctor. This is theatre nerd advice, not to be confused with medical advice. If you’re having serious vocal health concerns, consult with your physician. ☺