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The human voice is a precious, delicate mechanism. Used properly, it rarely goes wrong. You only have one set of vocal cords and you should do whatever it takes to preserve them not only for career reasons, but also for your health and wellbeing. We had a tête-à-tête with the folk over at Vocalzone (who have given our members a 10% discount on their pastilles!) to find out how to keep our voices healthy.
Voice professionals should understand that common voice issues can be easily prevented by being proactive about vocal health. Yet many professional voice users have a tendency to work through the voice problem and don’t do anything about it until it’s too late. Does it sound familiar to you? For voice-over artists, voice problems and sore throats can have a major effect on their career.
At Vocalzone we have been helping hard-working voices for over 100 years, so we put together a few tips with advice on keeping your voice in first-class condition. If your voice is important to you, these tips will help you maintain it properly.
Always warm up: Your vocal folds are muscles. Like any muscles before exercise they need a thorough warm up to get the best performance. We recommend very gentle humming and glides, for about five minutes in the morning and before intensive voice use. After the warm-up, give your voice 10-15 minutes rest before the performance. Use the warm-up period to relax; check your breathing habits and drink some water! Healthy habits pay off in the long term and bad habits cost. Just because you get away without warming up now does not mean that you will never need to.
Don’t smoke: If you care about your voice, you should not smoke. The irritants in tobacco damage the voice and will certainly shorten your vocal career. As a smoker you are more prone to infection and your voice can become unstable.
To join the list of current Vocalzone users join VoicesUK for a 10% discount on their pastilles: users include Sir Tom Jones, Katherine Jenkins, Gaz Coombs, Jonnie Owen, Bette Midler, James Hetfield, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Madonna, Calvin Harris, Tinchy Stryder, Rihanna, JME, Leonard Cohen, Jamie Oliver, etc.— VoicesUK
Stay hydrated: Caffeine, alcohol and some drugs can prevent the body from retaining water. The vocal folds’ protective cushioned layers need to be kept moist to stay healthy. Avoid too much tea or coffee, colas, alcohol etc. – no more than 2-3 per day, no later than mid-afternoon. Drink as much water as possible – we suggest 2 litres a day (6-8 glasses), even more if you are working in a dry environment such as on stage or in the recording studio. The harsh environments and air-conditioned atmospheres of modern living can often cause hoarseness, unreliability and even complete failure. Many medications are dehydrating; check with your pharmacist or doctor. Also try to avoid hot dry atmospheres or air-conditioned areas.
Certain illnesses and diseases such as diabetes can also cause dehydration. If you exercise a lot, make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after the exercise. Flying in a plane is another situation when people do not realise they need to drink more water as air often not humidified well in this environment. Voice professionals should drink plenty of water before, during and after the flight to ensure good hydration.
Eat well and rest your voice: You should avoid any kind of foods that may cause excess of mucous. For example, if you are allergic to milk, you should avoid dairy products to prevent excessive mucous production in your throat.
It is also essential to make sure your voice has enough rest after a long day at work. Vocal cords are like any other muscles and the need to recover after every vocal work-out.
Avoid late-night eating: This can result in stomach acid spilling into your larynx, causing hoarseness. Tell- tale signs are bad breath (especially first thing), prolonged warm-up (more than 15-20 minutes), and a sour taste in the mouth.
Monitor your voice use: Everyone’s voice has his or her own limits. Know yours! Loud harsh talking or singing is more damaging than gentle use, so avoid prolonged use in “hard” environments such as clubs and pubs; even using your mobile in a noisy place. Don’t shout when you don’t have to!! Your vocal cords collide with each other more than a million times a day. Any extra activity adds to that and puts a strain on them.
When recovering from a voice problem, avoid unnecessary conversation; for example phone calls, chatting, etc. – and try to monitor your voice use.
Keep to 2 hours of intensive use a day (performing, rehearsing, public speaking or meetings) and remember that the more intensive the use, the less time your voice will last.
Avoid repeated throat clearing: Clearing your throat and coughing can damage the vocal folds. Try sipping water instead, or sucking a cough sweet (don’t overdo it, cough sweets can dehydrate you) or try a Vocalzone.
Manage your stress: Stress can be very harmful to the voice, causing forced voice production and vocal fold damage. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing and regular exercise can help.
Watch out for: Persistent breathiness, hoarseness or pain. They may signal a voice problem. A consistently unreliable voice can also signal deeper problems. Always consult your doctor or voice coach if you feel you may have a problem. Finally, avoid anybody with a respiratory illness such as cold or flu.
Vocalzone is specially formulated for voice care, and is designed specifically to relieve irritations due to excessive speaking or singing. It also soothes the dry, irritated throats that often accompany the common cold. Vocalzone is a unique blend of natural ingredients first developed over 100 years ago. Its active ingredients include menthol, peppermint oil, and myrrh tincture. Vocalzone is a unique product, ideally suited to helping voice professionals maintain their clarity of voice. If you sing, or act, or speak regularly in public, Vocalzone throat pastilles will ensure that you always keep a clear voice.
Welcome to the VoicesUK blog. Here we explore all facets of the amazing world that is the voiceover industry. We feature guest authors on topics such as how to get started, what equipment is best for your recordings, how to find clients and how to best show off your skills on VoicesUK. To join our family of British voiceover artists please click here. To search for the perfect voice for your project click here. And click here to get in contact with our team, we’re ready to help!