Fall and Winter Health Tips for Vocalists

Along with changes in weather comes an increased potential for colds and upper respiratory ailments that can adversely affect the musical activities of singers. Health problems persist at this time of year due to a number of factors. What follows are some basic ideas shared by Berklee School of Music Associate Professor Anne Peckham, to help you maintain your vocal health.

Get plenty of rest

Everyone has different needs for sleep. Know how much sleep you need to function best, and maintain a regular sleep schedule as much as you can. Rest your voice whenever possible. Schedule time to unwind during your day. This will help you have renewed energy when you need to sing. Don’t wait until you burn out before you schedule downtime away from stressful activities.

Drink water

If you stay well hydrated, your body is better able to flush out the germs that cause colds. Make sure to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Drinking plenty of water can help your voice function better because your vocal cords must be well lubricated to vibrate with the least amount of friction. The water you drink does not go immediately to your vocal cords. Although you feel the immediate relief of water in your throat, it goes to your stomach and passes through your entire system before hydrating the vocal cords. This takes time, so be sure to drink water before you feel thirsty.

Stay physically fit

Your body is your instrument. Whatever you do to improve the health of your body and mind eventually shows up in your voice as increased vitality and energy. Singing is physically demanding, and maintaining good health is essential to career success. Exercising can help you to stay physically and mentally alert and have more energy.

Don’t sing if it hurts
As simple as this advice sounds, many singers get caught up in the moment and don’t listen to their bodies when they feel discomfort. When you are tired you should rest your voice.

Singing over a cold

There are times when you can sing with a cold and times when you absolutely must rest your voice. You can usually sing over a cold if you have nasal congestion but no throat symptoms. Your tone may be a bit nasal, but in general, you can sing over or through congestion. The first line of treatment for your singing voice is moisture. Drinking a lot of water will keep your throat and nasal mucus thin.

Develop good rehearsal habits

Warming up before rehearsals will help you avoid straining your voice. During a long rehearsal, be sure to take breaks and drink plenty of water.

Always use a microphone when singing with an amplified band. Position yourself so that you can hear your voice from an amp or monitor. Singers who cannot hear themselves tend to compensate by over-singing. This is a sure way to wear out your voice.