Healthy Habits for Singers: Medical Maintenance Part 5
“What can I do to be a better singer RIGHT NOW?”
Maybe you’ve asked yourself this question. Maybe you’ve asked your vocal coach this question. Maybe you’re reading this blog right now because you’ve asked Google this question. Being a good singer isn’t just about practicing your pieces and using proper technique; there are plenty of healthy habits for singers that extend beyond the act of singing.
Many people think that the work of singing begins and ends in the practice rooms or during rehearsal. However, a significant amount of vocal health is determined by what you do when you’re NOT singing. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your whole body is essential if you want to succeed as a singer. In fact, healthy habits for singers are especially important because your voice is part of your body. Unlike a trumpet with a leaky valve or a piano with a broken string, your voice cannot be replaced or easily repaired. You’ve got to take care of the voice you’ve been given.
Healthy habits for singers aren’t quite as elaborate as you might think, though. They’re actually quite simple. Below, I’ve listed a few healthy habits for singers that I’ve found especially effective:
1. Stay hydrated. There is no substitute for hydration. If you want to maintain vocal health, you have to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Most doctors recommend that you drink half of your body weight in ounces. For example, a 140-pound guy should drink at least 70 ounces of water each day. If you don’t want to do daily calculations, you can follow another simple rule by which most successful singers abide: “pee pale.”
2. Exercise regularly. The success of your vocal mechanism depends on the success of your breathing mechanism. If you’re exercising regularly, your heart and lungs should be in good shape. When you engage in regular exercise, you increase your heart rate—and, in turn, your cardiovascular endurance. Singing is physical! If you’re not huffing and puffing through your workout, you won’t be huffing and puffing through a long, demanding piece of vocal music either.
3. Drink even more water. Water doesn’t just keep you hydrated; it ensures that the lining or coating of your vocal cords stays moist. If the protective lining or coating of your vocal cords is moist, it’s easier for your cords to connect in a healthy, productive way. Water also helps to clear the lactic acid from your vocal cords. Lactic acid builds up during heavy singing sessions and can cause your muscles to stiffen and lose flexibility. By drinking lots of water, you can help your vocal muscles stay flexible.
4. Stretch before and after you sing. You can stretch the muscles that comprise your vocal mechanism by doing vocal warm-ups at the beginning of a session and vocal cool-downs at the end of a session. However, you can also help prevent lactic acid from building in other areas of your body by stretching your limbs before and after you sing. Sometimes, when you sing, you hold tension in parts of your body. This tension prevents you from singing freely and openly. By stretching, you alleviate tension and give yourself the opportunity to work the muscles you need to work instead of engaging muscles you don’t need.
5. Find time to rest. Even Olympic athletes take time away from their sport to rest their weary muscles. Sometimes, it’s difficult to take time off as a vocalist—after all, we speak to communicate! However, taking time to rest your vocal muscles is one of the many healthy habits for singers that will allow you to stay healthy. If you’re going to work hard, you should rest hard, too!
Singing is about more than how you treat your voice when you’re belting out your favorite tunes; it’s about how you treat your unique instrument during the rest of the day as well! Do yourself a favor and make these healthy habits for singers part of your daily routine.
To make sure you’re taking full advantage of the best healthy habits for singers—and to ensure that your warm-ups and cool-downs are doing their job—contact the Brian Schexnayder Vocal Studio and schedule a lesson today!