I will finish up this little series of posts dealing with vocal hygiene today by mentioning a couple more thoughts. One guiding principle rules over all the points in this series: vocal technique can seldom overcome bad vocal health. Most folks struggle to sing not because of the way they treat their voices while their singing but the way they treat it when they’re not singing.
Slumber. There’s just no replacement for a proper amount of sleep every night. When I tell singers this I usually get the same reaction as church members do when they are told that the key to the Christian walk is prayer and bible study. But just as your body is shaky and wobbly after long periods without sleep or inadequate sleep so are the vocal folds. Vocal cords are muscles just like leg muscles or arm muscles. Plus, while you’re asleep the cords are free from making contact with each other allowing any swelling to go down from a day’s use (unless you talk in your sleep a lot LOL).
On a related note, if you are hoarse after singing, REST THE CORDS! There’s no replacement for vocal rest. This not only includes singing and speaking but coughing, sneezing, and clearing your throat. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I used to be the world’s worst and doing vocal exercises to see if my voice was back. I had to learn to be silent and trust that the cords would recover.
Allergies. I had sinus surgery back in 2006 and I’m amazed at how positively it affecting my larynx. My ENT showed me that I had constant, chronic infection in every sinus cavity in my head (esp. the big one between my ears!). Scar tissue had built up from the unyielding swelling. He told me post-surgery that it was extremely important to deal with prevention rather than cure. So I now take a nasal inhaler every morning to inhibit mucous production and I also take an antihistamine before bed every night. This knocks down the amount of drainage significantly. With that being said, resistance to antihistamines occurs so I have to change up and rotate the meds periodically.
I’m sure I’ve not hit on every aspect of vocal health but hopefully these posts have helped you improve your stewardship of the only vocal instrument our Lord gave you. Brother Music Minister, please take care of your singing voice!