Caring for Your Voice

Tips, folk remedies, and science

When Stephen Schwartz performs, he often brings a thermos full of Throat Coat tea. [From Holly—I use this, too! Great stuff!]

Other singers suck on Grether’s Blackcurrent pastilles.



General Vocal Care

Dr. Yagoda’s Tips for a Healthy Voice from Best Care of the Professional Voice by Dr. Michelle Yagoda

  1. Do drink 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water daily
  2. Do treat allergies and infections promptly
  3. Do rest your voice in times of illness
  4. Do keep background noise to a minimum
  5. Do find a vocal coach – classically trained singers have less vocal tension and can produce a clearer, stronger voice, versus non-trained singers who are consequently more likely to injure their voices
  6. Do stay relaxed – release stress with yoga, aerobics and meditation
  7. Don’t clear your throat – sip water or take a deep breath instead
  8. Don’t cough if you can avoid it – it will become a bad habit
  9. Don’t sing after drinking alcohol – the alcohol may numb your vocal cords and you may be unable to feel their fatigue
  10. Don’t accept roles out of your vocal range to “gain experience” – the price of injury can be quite high
  11. Don’t clench your teeth – this will cause tension in your jaw muscles
  12. Don’t raise your voice when you are angry – yelling may injure your cords – take some deep breaths through your mouth and let the air out with a soft sigh
  13. Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic, and acidic beverages
  14. Avoid smoky environments
  15. Avoid excessive yawning – this may strain the muscles of your throat and voice
  16. Avoid frequent aspirin use – it may contribute to vocal cord hemorrhage
  17. Avoid unnatural uses of the voice such as imitating machine noises, sirens and
    animals, etc.
  18. Avoid excessive loud talking – this may lead to vocal strain

“Maintaining Vocal health” article by David Otis Castonguay, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities, Radford University

Journey of the Voice: Anatomy, Physiology and the Care of the Voice

University of Pittsburgh Voice Center – Voice Reference Guide, Disorders, Voice Care

Tips for Singers with colds, flu, hoarse voice or laryngitis

Hoarseness – Health911 article

Singers with colds, etc. – a long discussion that includes: Humidifying the ambient air and drinking plenty of fluids are well known precautions taken by professional singers. In the absence of a humidifier, lock yourself into the bathroom, run the shower to stream up the room while you drink a litre of mineral water.

Tips for when you lose your voice while performing

Stephen Schwartz’s assistant, singer Michael Cole, and others have offered some tips on the Schwartz discussion forum:

    1. Don’t strain
    2. Gargle
    3. Relax
    4. Drink lots of water
      • Did you know: Scientists believe that when the body is slightly dehydrated, the mucous made by the throat to lubricate the vocal cords becomes thicker. This thicker mucous can interfere with vocal cord vibration.
    5. Use Slippery Elm Bark tea or zinc losenges
    6. Boil potatoes (with skins) and inhale the steam
    7. Drink hot water with lemon & honey
    8. Avoid “drying” irritants:
      • caffeine
      • chocolate
      • alcohol
      • antihistamines
      • diuretics
      • vitamin C (in large doses)
      • cigarette smoke
    9. Reduce mucous producing foods – nuts, dairy products, any allergens
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