I’m not professing to be the greatest model of vocal technique. However, I have learned over my 25 or so years of singing that certain things will have profoundly positive or negative impact on my ability to sing effectively.
I tried to focus on the importance of hydration in my last post (not counting the TWT radio spot). Today, I will add some items to consider.
Bad hygiene may not overcome good technique. You may have some of the best vocal production around. But if you’re voice is not healthy from other non-singing influences, you may be in trouble. Wouldn’t it be great if the snap-on larynx could be developed? I would love to be able to have one larynx I use for speaking, another for when I’m just out muddling around the house, and yet another one for when I’m singing. Just snap one out and another one in! Until that technology is developed (ha ha), we have to deal with the fact that we have only one instrument and we take it with us everywhere we go. What would it be like for a guitarist if he took his guitar literally everywhere he or she went? In what kind of shape would the guitar be?
Be careful in loud environments. Yelling and screaming can torch vocal cords, inflaming them to the point where singing can become extremely difficult. Obvious places where volume levels are at the highest are ballgames, concerts, rehearsals, etc. One most overlooked place is riding in or driving a car. The ambient decibel levels in an automobile can create situations where passengers are speaking at much higher volumes than in a quiet room. Being aware of this can help you be more strategic in how many words you use as well as using more correct breath support and placement while in the car. If when driving a long distance to a gig, you might even consider bringing a notepad where you can write down what you want to say. When I’m at a ballgame, I never yell or cheer and if I need to tell someone something I get as close to their ear as possible and speak as softly as I can.
Be aware of what you eat affects how you sing. The American Diet has become, among many other things, the Great Reflux Machine. In fact, reflux has become the diagnosis de jour for too many doctors, where IMHO I believe they cast such a diagnosis without doing enough examination. With that being said, if you are, in fact, struggling with reflux (you may not ever have heartburn with it) you are walking around with inflamed vocal cords most of the time. Reflux inhibitors (Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium) will certainly help. But another form of attack that you won’t hear about is within your own body—saliva. Yes, you can spit your way to relief! (Forgive me.) I have had the fight against reflux for over a decade and I have found one great weapon that works better than the aforementioned parentheticals—chewing gum. Chewing gum increases the amount of saliva production which fights reflux amazingly well. Try it along with all of the other standard preventatives.
I’ll have a couple more points on this subject in my next written entry.
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