Archive for the 'Vocal Health' Category

Jul 10 2017

How to water your voice

Published by under Vocal Health

I was standing in the wings, about to make my entrance when I noticed that it was raining on stage. I mean it wasn’t supposed to be, but it sure looked like rain to me. Then I realized that what I was seeing was saliva raining forth from the mouths of the chorus! “OMG! Get me an umbrella,” I thought. It was then that I made an important realization: it takes water to sing! Yes, I had heard that it was important to keep hydrated when performing, but this was solid proof of why. You spit when you sing! And, just in case you public speakers think you cannot be blamed for a soggy audience, I assure you that you spit when you speak, too. And the more vigorous and energized your speaking and singing, the more you spit.

Besides spitting when you use your voice, your vocal folds require a nice coating of mucous to work properly. The only way you achieve that without having a thick, cough-inducing mess on your folds is to drink water. According to singer/teacher Rachael Gates in Voice Council Magazine, you also need to drink more water if you drink caffeine, as every ounce of fluid from a caffeinated drink needs to be replaced with non-caffeinated fluid.

Water helps vocal folds to work more effectively, and a recent study in South Africa on voice quality as it relates to hydration showed that positive changes in young professional singers’ voices after hydration included the ability to sustain notes longer and to reach higher frequencies. They inferred that this showed promise for helping them create and sustain better careers.

Summer is a great time to address this issue because water bottles are particularly popular in July and August. I see them everywhere. However, I’ve learned that just any water bottle won’t do, and I don’t recommned that we fill up landfills with plastic bottles. My daughter just got one that’s eco-friendly, keeps the water cool or warm all day long, and has no nasty plastics or other chemicals to make her toxic. If you don’t already have one, here are some guidelines for determining how much water you need in order to establish a hydration habit that will have your audience crying out for umbrellas:

  1. How much water do you need? According to the Mayo Clinic, that’s 13 cups a day for men and 9 cups for women. But that depends on how much you sweat and how active you are. To get a more accurate idea, Camelbak, the makers of very posh and green water bottles have a water calculator you can use. The results are in both liters and ounces.
  2. Are there other physical goals to consider? According to the Livestrong website, water may help you lose weight by filling you up AND increasing your metabolism. For this purpose, you will need to consume 4 cups of water a day for every 50 pounds of body weight, regardless of gender.
  3. How will you keep this interesting? Although sugar is not useful in hydration OR in losing weight, adding flavoring such as cucumbers, citrus or whole fruit to your water jug can be a nice way to get some variety in your hydration. Or better yet, try singing The Drink More Water Song. Thanks, Andy Z. Bah badah bah.


© Cheryl Casey | ID 5219139, hot sweaty girl
© Vipatter | ID 24061199, water glass



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Dec 31 2016

5 ways to improve your voice in 2017

Published by under Miscellaneous,Vocal Health

dreamstime_s_77890673Many of us start the New Year with goals and promises to improve our lives. Of course, old habits die hard, and new ones may not stick.  It takes anywhere from 21-254 days to form a new behavior, depending on the complexity of the behavior and the amount of time spent working on the change. If you want to get rid of “ums,” or up-speak, or learn to move with purpose on stage, you have to give it focus, practice, and, of course, time.  However, you can make the change sticky by applying the practice and focus in multiple ways. Below is a list of five ways to improve your voice and improve your health, even your life!

Drink more water: Hydration is key to making the body work better and keeping the voice lubricated. Signs of dehydration will begin to show with as little as a 2% deficit of fluids in the body. It’s a great idea to keep water on hand and sip it throughout the day, particularly if you are presenting, singing, or simply speaking a lot during the day.

Walk: Your voice is housed in your body. Whatever is good for the rest of you is good for your voice.  Walking, riding a bike, running and swimming are all recommended. Professor Bruce Schoonmaker at Furman University has created a webpage with data and suggestions for the best exercise to benefit your voice.  Check it out!

Breathe: The next time you give a talk, take time to inhale and exhale deeply just before you get up to speak.  Then, as you start to speak, breathe into your first words.  Do this every time you give a presentation. You’ll be more relaxed, thus improving your voice and your credibility.

Join a choir.  Recent studies have shown many benefits to choir singing, including a happier life; singers are more fit, happier, and more productive  If you guessed it’s because of the oxytocin produced in the brain by singing, you would be correct. But the good health of singers is also due to the increased levels of immunoglobulin A, that is stimulated by singing and is a key factor in respiratory health.

Practice intentional communication:  Intention is what one has in mind to do or bring about, and I mean literally “in mind,” as was shown by two studies of intention.  In the first, it was revealed by New York researchers that infants as young as six months old can understand our intentions, and respond to them.  Another study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that the mirror neuron system tracks not only the actions, but also the intentions, of others.  This mirror neuron system has been identified as being very important in guiding our social interactions, especially in survival and keeping us safe. Therefore, intention is a component of “trustworthiness” in social interaction and it is definitely picked up by others, which is why you need to be clear about your intention as a speaker.

For more help in doing what you say you’re going to do, check out this interesting organization:  Because I Said I Would. 

And for help making a new behavior stick, please see How to form a new habit on this blog.

© Tom Wang |

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