This article originally appeared on TakeLessons’ blog.
As a singer, you probably know how important it is to take care of your voice — it is your instrument, after all! If you’re already staying hydrated and doing your daily warm-ups, take it a step further by trying these strange (but effective) strategies in this guest post by Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R…
Most people know that water and rest are good for the voice. Proper vocal health for singers doesn’t have to be much more difficult than that though, because there are lots of bizarre things you can do to keep your voice healthy, even when you aren’t singing. As a professional singer, I’ve acquired lots of little eccentric ways to keep my cords happy while those around me go hoarse. Here are the top seven strange ways to keep your voice healthy.
1. The Concert/Sports Game “Wooo”
The biggest culprit of vocal health problems is vocal abuse. We use our voices constantly, and if we do it wrong, the voice suffers. One place where we tend to abuse our voices is at big events like concerts and sports games, where everyone spends hours hollering at the top of their lungs.
So, what’s the solution? The concert/sports game “wooo” allows you to enjoy the thrill of “yelling” without killing your cords. Some people naturally do this: think of the times you’ve heard a long, high “WOOOO!” at a concert. This head voice “woo” is also a popular vocal warm-up. To master this, simply practice gently saying “woo” in head voice (falsetto for men) with adequate breath support. As you get better at this, you will be able to make a lot of noise – more than the screaming, overenthusiastic fan who won’t be able to talk the next day. Here’s a good example (skip to 1:02):
If you need help with this, ask your voice teacher.
2. Pretend to Scream on Roller Coasters
While I do enjoy healthy whooping at concerts and sports games, I choose to stay mute on roller coasters. Why? The ups and downs aren’t exactly conducive to proper vocal technique, and no one is listening to you anyway. I just open my mouth so it looks like I’m screaming and enjoy the ride. I promise it doesn’t take away from the fun, and you’ll be able to sing beautifully even after a full day at the amusement park.
3. Don’t Sing Only Christina Aguilera at Karaoke Night
Vocal health for singers is important to keep in mind, even while you’re out at karaoke! Yes, it’s fun to belt along to your favorite tunes at karaoke night (or in the car, shower, or wherever). But overdoing it can lead to serious vocal problems. To avoid hurting yourself, limit the number of super-high belting songs you sing and try mixing in some head voice-dominant songs (Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl“, Ellie Goulding’s “Lights”, and pretty much anything Justin Timberlake sings are good, low-impact choices). If you find yourself belting all the time for fun, please, please, please take voice lessons. Belting is not inherently unhealthy and you can learn how to do it right – but it can injure your voice if you do it wrong (trust me, I know from experience).
4. Lip Sync at Concerts
Concerts are bad for voices. Not only do we scream at them, we also sing along – loudly and badly – to our favorite songs. Doing this is fun, but if you don’t want to wave goodbye to your voice, try lip syncing. No one will notice, and you will still be engaged and having a great time (as well as showing everyone that you know all of the lyrics).
5. Support Your Speaking Voice
Did you know that voice therapists treat people who talk a lot (actors, reporters, lecturers, etc.) just as often as they treat singers? You probably talk more than you sing, and talking too loudly or with lots of tension can harm your voice. If you have a voice teacher, ask him or her to devote a lesson to healthy, supported speaking. Your voice teacher can help you apply breath support, throat relaxation, and other vocal techniques to your speaking. If you don’t have a teacher, consider getting one! But in the meantime, try speaking while thinking about breath support and resonance concepts. If you get the hang of it, your speaking voice will have more range (no monotone here) and be louder with less physical effort.
6. Pick Quiet Restaurants
If you are going out for a nice long meal, consider noise levels. Some restaurants are so loud that you have to shout across the table, and by the end of the meal your voice won’t feel so great. Taking noise levels into account will not only protect your vocal cords, it will make the dinner conversation much more audible and enjoyable.
7. Mouth Words at Clubs
Remember tip #4? You can use this at noisy clubs, parties, and other events as well. If people try to talk to you, they aren’t going to be able to hear you unless you shout. But they might actually understand you if you mouth your words clearly. If they don’t, they will lean in and you can speak at a comfortable volume.
As you can see, you don’t have to be a hermit to keep your voice healthy. Go to all of the social gatherings, concerts, clubs, restaurants, and sports games you want. If you keep these seven strange ways to keep your voice healthy in mind, your vocal cords will stay as rested as if you had stayed at home and watched Netflix.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!