As a vocalist, I am carrying my instrument with me at all times. It is so important for us, as vocalists, to take care of our instrument—if it “breaks,” we can’t just buy another one! Winter is one of the worst seasons for vocalists, especially in Georgia. The weather is constantly fluctuating, the air is cold and dry, and everyone is sick! Since we are in the thick of winter, I feel compelled to share a couple tips of how to protect your precious instrument and keep it safe!
1. Stay Hydrated! Staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of keeping your vocal chords healthy. When you sing, your vocal chords are vibrating against each other to create sound. Amazing, right?! But if they are dry, you can strain and/or lose your voice. Obviously, the easiest way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of fluids! So, carry a water bottle. Throughout the day, I find I am thirsty A LOT, but if I don’t have a water bottle, I won’t drink anything. Conversely, stay away from drinks that will dehydrate you, like carbonated and caffeinated beverages.
2. Don’t clear your throat. The first thing I want to do when I get a cold is clear my throat. I hate the feeling of stuff on my vocal chords! Although having mucus on your vocal chords can cause problems, like dehydration, slight swelling, irritation, and difficulty speaking or singing, clearing your throat is the worst way to handle it. It causes more irritation and can cause enough swelling to lose your voice. Losing your voice might seem trivial, but prolonged unhealthy vocal habits can cause nodes (vocal calluses!). Instead of clearing your throat, try drinking hot tea, swallowing hard, or some healthy vocal warm ups—sometimes the vibrating of your vocal chords from singing is enough force to shake loose the yuckiness! BUT, if it hurts to sing, do NOT sing through the pain! This means that your vocal chords are experiencing more than just a little mucus.
3. Use your inside voice! Your normal speaking voice is, for the most part, the healthiest volume for your voice. Whispering and yelling are both stressful on your vocal chords. Yes, even whispering puts stress on your voice. Especially if you have already lost your voice, whispering will only prolong your laryngitis. Staying on vocal rest is important if you have already lost your voice so that your vocal chords have a chance to heal.
Contributed by Sarah Seo, Board-Certified Music Therapist and Voice/Piano/Guitar Instructor
Sarah majored in Music Therapy at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. After receiving her degree, Sarah joined the Metro Music Makers team. Her flexibility to teach voice, piano and guitar has made her a favorite among our students. Sarah is also a member of our Music Therapy team. Be sure to read about her music therapy experience here.