10 Tips To Keep Your Voice Healthy And Make It Sound Better
Unlike guitarists or drummer our instrument lives inside of our body. We can not put on new strings or clean our instrument with a damp cloth. A healthy lifestyle will keep your voice healthy and fresh in the long run. In preparation for your next audition or performance, I will share my 10 tips to keep your voice healthy.
These tips are intended to help musicians, especially singers but can also support everyone who wants to keep a healthy voice. (I welcome all the actors, teachers, trainers etc. who want to learn how to take care about their voices.)
You Only Have One Voice As An Instrument
Like I said in the beginning, we only have one internal instrument that we can not exchange after damage. We have to be really careful with it. There are voice injuries that can be fixed over time and in worse cases even with surgery but if the injury is really bad, the damage is irreparable.
Also your vocal sound is produced by a lot of different muscles e.g. diaphragm, larynx muscles etc. and they need training just like other muscles to work properly.
Here are my tips to improve your vocal workouts and keeping you voice healthy and good sounding!
1. Drink More Water
This may sound very obvious but a lot of problems within our body are caused by lack of water consumption. The average adult body consists of 50-65% water. To stay healthy you should drink about 2 liters of water per day. This will not only keep your voice healthy but your whole system! That way your throat will stay hydrated and lubricated. A dry throat will cause straining and injuries and if I can give you one tip right now that my vocal teacher preached every single lesson… If your throat hurts while singing, you are doing something wrong and you should probably take break and approach whatever you’re trying to do differently.
This leads directly to the next point.
2. Don’t Misuse Your Voice
After hours of singing songs your throat gets tired and might start to hurt and that’s totally normal. You should probably call it a day and try it another time.
But misusing your voice is something entirely different. Avoid shouting at all costs.(especially at others, duh!)
Your larynx will tighten up and start to hurt. And if you already have a hoarse throat, that’s an alarm sign that you shouldn’t speak or yell at all costs.
Same thing for concerts… For me I get all euphoric at concerts and I really want to sing all my favorite songs along. That unfortunately hurts your voice so much. Most of the times you don’t drink enough at concerts so your dry throat will meet loud shouting and how many of you had a hoarse voice the next day? I certainly did.
Tip: If you don’t want to harm your voice at a concert, try lip syncing a few songs.
3. Never Sing Without Warming Up
Once again, your vocal sounds is created by muscles and they are tiny by the way. You don’t want to get waked very harshly in the morning right? You want to drink a coffee and maybe do some stretching before work.
Same applies to your voice. Do warm ups before singing. Not only will your sound improve but it’s also much healthier for your voice. There are many videos on YouTube that teach vocal warm ups with exercise. Maybe I will come up with my own, if you’re interested? At least do some lip rolls and sirens before singing to loosen up your voice and open up those higher registers.
You probably won’t go to the gym and start lifting the heaviest of weights before warming up, right?
For me the difference of singing with and without warm ups is like day and night in terms of sound. It also feels much better and easier.
Don’t forget: Your vocal muscles are tiny and fragile so be kind.
4. Give Your Voice A Break
I can not give up on coffee.My daytime job is a service job. I’m working as a hair colorist and I have to talk a lot throughout the day. I sometimes even end the day with a hoarse voice. It is important to give your voice a break for rest.
What I try to implement is a schedule:
- One day vocal exercises/recording/singing
- One day writing blog posts only
- One day working in Logic Pro X and music production
I really try to avoid to sing every single day but honestly I haven’t found the perfect balance for myself yet because it is simply a lot of things. There are certainly days, when I just want to sleep after work but I try to push through. Set at least one day a week when you give your voice a break to recover, especially if you have to talk a lot in your job.
How do you manage your projects after work?
5. Avoid These Foods
I have to admit that this is the point, I do not follow most of the times.
So here’s a list of foods to avoid and why.
- Dairy products like milk, yoghurt, cheese… I know right?
They will make your throat heavy and you tend to cough more often
- Ice cold drinks
Those drinks will constrict your muscles and make them really tight. You will lose flexibility and your voice will be exhausted much quicker
It’s a bad habit to have a drink right before the show to calm your nerves.(I’m sometimes one of those guys, too)
Alcohol will not moisten your throat… Quite the opposite is the case. It dries out your throat.
It unfortunately hast a similar effect like coffee so it dries out your throat.
What To Eat Instead?
Don’t starve yourself. In fact singing while being hungry isn’t all that great either. Try more healthy food that should actually be part of your daily meals.
- Fresh Fruits
They are always good because they moisten your throat and contain lots of vitamins.
Especially almonds deliver a lot of energy that’s being used for a longer period of time than sugar.
- Room temperature water
Your water shouldn’t be too hot or too cold in order to moisture your voice the best.
I personally love honey because it coats your throat and makes it super soft. You probably tried drinking tea with honey when you’re sick to reduce some your pain and it feels great. It also tastes very good.
6. Tea Instead Of Coffee (aka the hardest one)
As I said coffee and caffeine will dry out your throat and that’s very unfortunate. Maybe you already noticed but you have to pee a lot after drinking coffee. That’s because it dehydrates your body. Same goes for some teas. Be careful that your tea doesn’t contain a lot of caffeine.
Teas containing licorice root are especially helpful because similar to honey it coats your vocal muscles and makes it feel good and hydrated. Don’t forget to let the tea cool down a little so you won’t drink it when it’s too hot.
I also heard of licorice pastilles that claim to make your throat smooth but I haven’t tried those out. Have you ever tried licorice pastilles to make your throat feel better?
Personally, either coffee or tea, I have to pee a lot…
7. Use Steam To Clear Your Throat And Nasal Area
Steaming your voice will hydrate your throat and larynx very quickly, unlike drinking water.
It takes a longer time until your larynx gets the hydration it needs after drinking water and steaming will give it an immediate effect.
You will get the best effect with a steaming device for 5-10$ but if you just want to try it, feel free to use a bowl of hot water.
Be careful and do not use hot boiling water because that’s too hot.
Bend over your bowl and place a towel on top of your head so the steam can’t leak out. Now sit there for the next 20 minutes and relax. There is even a positive side effect… your skin will feel very soft and if you use creams afterwards your skin will be able to absorb it better.
When doing a steaming session the first time, I would use plain water without any oils in there, just for the hydration.
I once tried it with eucalyptus oil but it was too strong and I felt it kind of burning in my eyes. (That is true dedication for you guys!)
After steaming try not to speak too much for a few minutes so your vocal muscles can cool down very gently without tension. Definitely don’t start singing right after steaming.
But if you know you have a performance at night you can do a steaming session after lunch time.
8. Quit Smoking
I know this is easier said than done but smoking doesn’t do your voice well…. or anything else.
I’ve been with smokers all the time, including family, friends, lovers but I never started myself. The number one reason is money… it’s just so expensive and harms you so much.
What Happens To The Voice When Smoking?
First of all, like many things on this list, it dries out your throat a lot. Your voice will feel heavy and faster exhausted.
Imagine the smoke wrapping around your vocal folds hindering them to vibrate the way they should. Furthermore it irritates the muscles making them work worse.
Unfortunately that’s not all… In the long run your lung capacity will suffer from smoking.
You won’t hold notes long enough because you simply haven’t got enough air to breathe. Flexibility and agility will decrease over time for the same reasons.
Lets not start with smokers cough and even lung cancer. These are even worse cases.
Of course this is not only the case for singers. Do yourself a favor and try stop smoking for a healthier life. It’s never too late to make a change. My aunt was able to quit smoking after about 15 years and she feels way better nowadays.
9. Go To Bed Earlier
Our body recovers during the night. Sleep is such an important factor and I notice it really frequently. A bad night with less sleep can be seen the next day, in my case. My anxiety and depression are directly connected with how good I can sleep at night.
Long periods of being silent is a great recovery for your voice. For an adult person 7-8 hours of sleep are recommended.
I do recommend to sleep a lot before a performance so your body and vocals are well rested for the upcoming show.
10. Try Throat Lozenges
Similar to herbal teas there are throat lozenges that can help lubricating the throat.
The last time I was really hoarse, a client of mine recommended “Gelorevoice“. She was an actress and told me that it helped her many times when she didn’t have a strong voice. It lubricates your voice and makes it sound better instantly.
I don’t know if you can buy them outside of Germany but I’ve found them on Amazon. Try them out and tell me whether you liked them or not. For me, they worked wonders and even taste pretty good.
When putting them into your mouth, they create a muddy, kinda foam consistency that coats your throat really quick and makes it feel much softer.
What Is A Damaged Voice Like?
Misusing your voice can create vocal nodules.
These are little hard growths on your vocal cords that are created by vocal abuse. They will make your voice hoarse, cracky, lower pitched and breathy.
Other terms for them are “Singers Nodules”, “Screamer’s Nodules” or “Teacher’s Nodules”.
How Do I Know I Have Vocal Nodules?
You should probably visit a doctor after being hoarse for 2-3 weeks.
The treatment will consist of vocal rest depending on how worse it is.
But with all the tips mentioned above, you should be well-educated and prepared to reduce the danger of vocal nodules.
So go ahead and work on your healthy voice!
I hope you enjoyed todays post. It’s a little longer than usual but I wanted to sum up a lot of tips for you guys.
Take care of yourself and I will talk to you soon.
What are your secret tips to keep your voice healthy and fresh?
Tell me here or on Instagram and Twitter.
Disclosure: The links I’ve used are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to buy something via one of those links.