Healthy Speaking for Singers
Whether a professional singer, aspiring professional, or hobbyist, as much as we all love to sing, on any given day, we usually talk much more! Even if we diligently develop our singing technique, inefficient speaking habits can impact the function of the voice.
Here are a few tips to support healthy speaking habits:
1. Warm-up your voice daily, even if you plan to do little or no singing. An effective vocal warm up, targeting flexibility as a start, will make the vocal folds more elastic. This will help our voices be more responsive for speaking and singing.
2. Drink water throughout the day to keep the vocal folds hydrated. We all have times where we ‘fall off the wagon’. Just keep coming back to the daily intention to stay hydrated all day.
3. Avoid these vocal fatigue causing extremes:
- Speaking with too much muscle, effort, and push causes irritation of the vocal folds, affecting their proper functioning.
- Speaking with too much air (as with whispering) dries out the vocal folds, and prevents them from vibrating properly.
A few red flags are a feeling of stress and strain in the throat; excessive coughing and swallowing; loss of tonal clarity, which can progress into raspiness, hoarseness, or more severe vocal problems.
4. Lift your speaking voice higher and vary your pitch. Most people speak lower than where their voice should optimally be. I still have to watch this myself! Speaking in the ‘basement’ range of the voice puts unnecessary wear and tear on the instrument; it’s just not set up to resonate well there. As a result, you may be tempted to push your voice to be heard, especially in a loud environment.