Maintaining Your Vocal Health

A White Paper by Jessica Marciel – Las Vegas Vocal Training

Microphone open arms fire on a black background

Microphone open arms fire on a black background

Author’s Note: This essay is on maintaining vocal health is combines music industry and medical information, as well as personal experience and first-hand observation. There are many resources linked from this document, to give further information on particular items.

Please use this White Paper as a starting point for understanding your voice and what can affect it, positively or negatively. As cited in this essay, should you experience extended hoarseness (more than a couple of days) or pain, when you sing, it’s best practice to consult and Ear, Nose, & Throat doctor.

Many singers, such as the late Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Adele, Shania Twain, Keith Urban, John Mayer and others have had vocal health issues. All either had surgery or vocal rest plus anti-inflammatory medication, or both.

I felt an urgency to write about some of the important facts and issues surrounding the care of your voice.

Rule #1: If it hurts when you sing, STOP.

Common medical issues such as acid reflux can damage your vocal cords. When acid and mucus comes up, it burns your throat. Sleep deprivation, allergies or incorrect vocal technique can do permanent damage.

The vocal folds are thin layers of mucus that moisten your cords, continuously. Caffeine, soda, and smoking, pull the moisture out of your cords, leaving you with dryness and makes you feel like you cannot sing. You probably cannot, and should, not sing! 

Vocal Cord - Folds

Vocal Cord – Folds

Vocal cords can be damaged just from dryness. Air conditioning, furnaces, or low-humidity climates (such as Las Vegas) are potentially risky.

Recycled air in airplanes is also a problematic environment. Dermatologists (skin doctors) recommend moisturizing and drinking water when you fly. Performers who fly often should drink plenty of water during the entire flight.

Some treatments and cautions for dry throat are:

• Half-teaspoon salt. half-teaspoon baking soda, half teaspoon of clear corn syrup, and warm water, and gargle.
• Honey, lemon, and warm water, sip throughout day. Zinc lozenges, Mucinex and limited speaking.
• Throat coat tea, no caffeine, Biotenemouthwash, (I use it every day) and Entertainment Secret Throat Spray.
• Birth control pills may cause virilization of the female larynx, try to use alternate birth control.
• Avoid clearing your throat or coughing.
• Whispering is bad, too. Just speak softly.
• Use humidifiers throughout your house and bedroom, specifically. Use cold air humidifiers; NOT warm or hot air.

A New Nasal Emollient is  PONARIS,,, at CVS   Nasa uses it for Space!!!!

Another great gargle is Apple Cider Vinegar , warm water and honey, and gargle or just sip every morning. This is also a great cleanse I have used since I was 18.

If you have an infection, a sore throat, try 15 drops of Iodine, salt, and warm water, and gargle until gone. Repeat throughout the day and night. If you cannot tolerate the iodine, then substitute Hydrogen Peroxide for it, and make sure you do not swallow it. It will kill the germs.

VCD aka VOCAL CORD DYSFUNCTION was not even discovered or named until 1951. That is when a definitive study was conducted.

An ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) can order appropriate tests for you. You should get to know your ENT, well. That includes having their cell phone number, in case you have an urgent need.

For example, getting a quick Prednisone injection before a gig can restore your voice, quickly. You cannot do that often because Prednisone is a steroid and is not recommended for extended or continuous use. It is not unusual for working singers to have a half-dozen Prednisone pills, on hand for emergencies. A shot will work more quickly.

If you are hoarse for more than a week, see your ENT. Being hoarse for more than a couple of days can be a symptom of broken blood vessels. Vocal cord paralysis can occur when the nerve impulses to your larynx (voice box) are interrupted. It can even affect your ability to speak.

DO NOT cancel an apt with me because you have allergies!  Check Weather.com and find out the forecast for pollen, and have some medication around!  I have never called in sick to sing,,, YOU CAN sing over anything.  Please take care of your instrument!

Bleeding (such as in Adele’s condition) is caused by microscopic blood vessels in the cord in a jelly like layer, under folds when it is not absorbed. It can form a polyp and cause scarring.

About Celine Dion

I believe the likely reason Celine lost her voice is because she stopped singing for an extended period, to raise her newborns. If she had a vocal coach working with her during the time off, she would be probably fine today.

It should not be shocking that her voice was not in full force, immediately, when she started on a rapid return to concert performances. Surprise, you don’t use it, you lose it. Her spokespeople say it is a virus. It may be, but it’s probable that the extended time off was a significant contributing factor.

About Shania Twain

The public was told Shania Twains loss of voice was due to the trauma of her cheating husband (also her partner-producer).

However, she also moved away to have a child and took a few years off from performing. It would not be unlikely if the combination of both non-use of her voice, as well as the other trauma, led to her voice problems

Our voices are not infinite. We need to work at keeping them in shape by warming up, and working them out.

Tension can also prevent you from reaching your potential. Relax, stretch, warm up, be informed and apply your vocal knowledge.

We are human, not stainless steel. Take care of your voice. It is your instrument.

Download this entire article (in PDF). Feel free to share it.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Maintaining Your Vocal Health

Speak Your Mind

*

var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-731822-7']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();
Singing Skills Evaluation - 30 minute session, only $20 Click HERE For Details