There is nothing worse than a strained voice. Not only is it painful, but it can prevent you from performing and even cause permanent vocal cord damage. Whether you’re just beginning to learn to sing or you’re a practiced soprano, you need to know how to take care of your vocal cords.
What Causes Vocal Damage?
Most damage to vocal cords comes from either misuse or abuse. Misuse refers to using your vocal cords in a way that is unnatural or strenuous, such as excessive exertion when singing or talking. On the other hand, vocal abuse is when you are exposed to something that damages your cords, such as inhaling smoke or other irritants.
How Do You Prevent Vocal Damage?
The best vocal coaches will tell you that preventing damage comes down to a combination of practicing proper singing techniques and taking conscious care of your vocal cords. Here are some of the best habits you can adopt in order to keep your voice healthy and clear:
- Do Warm-Up Exercises: Your vocal cords are muscles, and just like any other muscle, you should do warm-up exercises before working them. Performing brief vocal exercises before practicing or performing not only helps you reach further on your range but also reduces the likelihood of damage or strain.
- Don’t Push or Over Exert: Knowing your limits is invaluable. Overexerting yourself is the easiest and quickest way to damage your vocal instrument. So, try not to push your range, limit your speaking before and after performances or intensive practices, and incorporate vocal rest into your daily schedule.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!: If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – well, make it one thousand and one. Proper hydration is critical for maintaining healthy vocal cords. Having a dry throat causes increased strain and risk of damage, so keeping hydrated is a requirement for both practice and performance.
- Avoid Coffee: This may be painful for some to hear, but coffee is one of the worst drinks you can ingest before and during any vocal activity. Coffee dries out your throat, so if you want to stay hydrated and reduce damage, you should avoid it before and during performances or practice. This applies to alcohol and soda as well.
- Avoid Smoking: Smoking in any form should be avoided for anyone looking to exercise their voice. This is because smoking dries out the throat and causes damage to the throat and vocal cords over time.
- Have a Good Performing Environment: If you are performing with a band, make sure you use a mic and never yell over your fellow performers or crowd. The less you have to strain to be heard, the better! For at-home or studio practice, make sure you utilize a mic, a mixer, and a space geared for good acoustics.
Taking care of your voice ensures that the world can hear you, so it should be any singer or vocal performer’s top priority to keep it as healthy as possible. If you are interested in learning to sing for the first time or want to hone your skills further, you can schedule private singing lessons here.