Voice Protection Tips and Techniques
For A Healthy Singing Voice!

Voice Protection Tips and Techniques refer to what actions to avoid in order not to harm our singing voice, as well as what actions to inculcate as part of our daily habits, so as to work towards a healthy set of vocals! Our actions need to become natural and habitual to us, so that we do not feel uncomfortable doing them on a daily basis.

Taking care of our voice also involves knowing what foods to eat or not to eat, and this has been covered in a previous chapter on this website. For those who have not read it, feel free to visit this webpage for some insight on the various good ‘singing foods’ and bad ‘singing foods’ for general voice protection and maintenance!

Coming back to voice protection tips, here are some of the actions we should avoid, as well as what we can try to do in order to prevent unnecessary damage to our voice and vocal cords:

1. Throat Clearing or Harsh Coughing

Clearing our throat whenever we have phlegm or mucus is a very natural thing to do, and most of us will not think twice to clear our throats loudly and harshly. However, we should take note that when we clear our throats, we are actually ‘rubbing’ our vocal cords harshly with each other, and this could cause unnecessary hurt to our voice!

Coughing harshly and loudly also subjects our vocal cords to great tension and strain, as the loud sound is created by our vocal cords squeezing tightly with each other, and this also can cause unnecessary harm to our singing voice.

A voice protection tip for us here would be to clear our throats by producing a gentle cough where there is lots of air used but little sound produced. This can be done by breathing in and taking in air and then expelling it with a silent ‘H’ sound, creating a low rumbling sound with your vocal cords.

It would also be good for us to understand more about our set of vocal cords and how they work, in order for us to be able to good voice protection measures. Practising regular and useful vocal warmup exercises also will be beneficial to our singing voices, and helps to build strength in our vocal cords so as to be able to withstand the occasional strain or tension created by these actions that may be harmful to our voice!

2. Smoking or Taking Drugs

Smoking is certainly bad for us because it is bad for our heart, lung and vocal tract and this is disastrous for our singing voice! Smoking tobacco also irritates and dries the vocal tract and causes us to feel irritation in our throat, which may lead us to clear our throats more regularly and cause unnecessary tension and damage to our vocal cords.

Taking drugs also causes many health problems and puts in a state of mind that is not beneficial for singing. Certain drugs like marijuana also irritate our vocal tract and dries our throat, making it not conducive for singing. In fact, many singers are certainly strongly encouraged to go into rehabilitation by their record companies in order to kick their drug habits and maintain a healthy body and mind!

Calling a drug helpline is one of the best things you can do if you want to help a friend or a loved one avoid the numerous consequences of drug addiction.

3. Yelling or Talking Over Noise Or Music

Usually when we go to clubs or when we are at noisy places like construction sites, we tend to yell or try to project our voices over and above the general noise level of our surroundings. This is certainly not good for our voice because it subjects our vocal cords to intense tension and strain, especially when we have to talk extremely loudly for long periods of time in these noisy surroundings!

A good voice protection tip would be for us to reduce our speaking time in noisy environments or perhaps just talk less and in shorter sentences, so as to avoid too much vocal abuse! We may also consider using more sign language when communicating in these environments, or just to move closer to the person we are talking to and talk in their ear so that we do not need to strain our singing voice too much!

4. Excessive Physical Fatigue

Talking when we are excessively tired or exhausted is certainly not a very good idea, and will subject our vocal cords to unnecessary strain and stress. This is because when we are tired, we usually would not think of supporting our voice properly with our breath and diaphragm muscles, and this means that we may talk with an unsupported voice, ‘rubbing’ our vocal cords and producing more vocal abuse!

A useful voice protection tip would be for us to rest and make sure that we have sufficient energy and are conscious and in control of our actions, before we begin to talk and communicate with others. We may also wish to build up our breath support through simple but useful breathing exercises that not only build up our diaphragm and abdominal muscle strength, but also teach us how to support our voices better for talking and singing!

Doing some simple stretching exercises for our neck, shoulders and for our bodies in general before singing also will help us to keep ourselves more relaxed and stress-free, and also keep our voices healthy!

5. Using the Microphone Where Possible

Sometimes when we need to do presentations or speak in front of a public audience, we may try to project our voice without the aid of microphones or amplifiers, especially if the room is not too big, or there are not too many people to address. This is a common thing to do especially among school teachers, who need to address their class quite often throughout a regular school day.

In fact, a useful voice protection tip would be to use the microphone as and when possible, even if we are only addressing a small group of people. This would reduce the strain that our vocal cords are subjected to when we are projecting our voice without a microphone, and also allows everyone to hear us loud and clear!

6. Breathing Through the Nose

When the environment around us is dry and harsh or even dusty, i am sure we have all experienced breathing and feeling that our throats are really dry and irritable. In fact, when we are in these surroundings, we should try our best to breath through our noses and not through our mouths.

This is because when we breathe through our nose, the air that we breathe goes through a natural filter which will not only remove most of the unnecessary particles in the air, but this air will also be moistened as it moves through our noses and progresses through our throats to our lungs. This makes the air less dry and reduces the ‘drying’ effect that it could have on our vocal cords and throats! We would also do best to have a humidifier in places where the air is dry, for example in work offices where the air-conditioner is switched on for the entire day.

Certainly when we are singing, most of the time we would breathe through our mouths, as this is faster and easier, and we would also need to create some breathing sounds for dramatic effect when we are singing. In this case, we should prepare a glass of lukewarm or room temperature water for us to moisten our voices and throats now and then, in order to avoid excessive dryness and irritation!

These are just some of the Voice Protection Tips and Techniques that i have gathered over the course of my teaching for the past number of years. Of course, for us to sing well, we not only need to learn about how to avoid doing damage to our voices, but we should also learn about the various singing problems that we may commit, and be able to solve them once we identify the problems we are more prone to, and understand thoroughly how we can correct these bad singing habits!

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