Winterize Your Voice: Voice Health in Winter Months
By FAR-West President, Susie Glaze
Happy New Year! I hope this month’s Lemonade Stand finds you all in good health, and that you’re getting out there to make music and engage in your community!
I want to thank you all for your continued support of FAR-West, and pass along some quick advice from a voice teacher, myself, for taking care of your voice in these winter months.
We often talk about “winterizing” your home or your car during the winter months, but what about your body and specifically, your singing voice? Singers especially need to pay attention to our environments, and how we take care of ourselves. Your overall health will directly impact the health of your vocal cords.
When there are colder temperatures outside we’re often stuck inside with heating elements that produce a dry environment. Keeping the vocal cords healthy is just one more reason to keep hydrating. And it isn’t just about water: there are also many foods that help the body hydrate, including fruits and vegetables. Also, you might consider getting a warm-mist humidifier for your home, either office or bedroom, whatever works. Do keep a bottle of water or tea or something to drink nearby so you can sip it as you go about your day. Warm liquids will help with getting rid of excess congestion. Also remember that adequate sleep is a must for healthy vocal cords.
During waking hours, the vocal cords are always ready to provide speech. There is a tension that is maintained within those muscles. During sleep, however, the cords separate and relax, thus healing themselves of any stress or strain collected during the day. Thus, even if you are completely silent throughout your day, the vocal cords are at attention and ready, holding the necessary amount of tension in order to be ready to speak. Therefore, it’s only during your sleeping hours that the vocal cords truly rest and heal themselves.
When you go to sing, swallow to clear your throat and never grind or cough. This irritates the throat and cords. Then warmup with some easy, light and soft scale patterns, not pushing for volume or intensity. This will warm the muscles and shake off some congestion. If you feel tension or pain, soothe your throat with warm liquids and back off of pushing or straining.
Here’s a good article about how to handle sore vocal cords: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-your-voice-back