May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, a topic near and dear to my heart. As this is a blog related to education and theatre, I thought I’d share some singing and vocal hygiene tips. Every year I find creative ways to share these with my staff and students. I understand not all of these tips are feasible all of the time, but these are best practices in my field.
- Stay Hydrated
This one is fairly simple. We all spend a good portion of our day talking, occasionally at louder volumes than are healthy. The best way to protect your voice and throat is to drink water. It keeps your vocal folds in better shape for continuous use. This also helps vocal sound while singing. Tea is great, and we all run on some sort of caffeine, but we all know water is best. And on that note, anything with caffeine or acid can be drying or irritating to the voice, creating less than healthy speaking and singing conditions.
Every acting and vocal coach will express the importance of breathing and breath control. This is also extremely important in everyday speaking. In order to sustain longer amounts of speech (i.e. presentations, performing, teaching, speaking over music in a dance class) you have to breathe from your diaphragm. Your abdomen should expand, not your chest or shoulders. You also want to inhale before you begin and use your exhale to sing or speak.
- Give It a Rest
Don’t have to talk? Take a break. Vocal rest is your friend. I spend most of my day speaking to staff, students, and parents. I am more than happy to come home to my apartment and text everyone the rest of the day to give my voice a break.
Sleep recharges everything, including your vocal tract and respiratory system. A good night’s sleep is always a good idea when it comes to your voice.
Those are just a few of my tips to keep your voice healthy. Please add yours in comments. I challenge you to try a new vocal health technique this week.
Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP