by Developing Voices Author Melissa Shallberg
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” You just sang that in your head, didn’t you?!? Congratulations! It’s December! The magical, marvelous season of wonder is upon us. We wonder what we were thinking when scheduled our month with back to back to back rehearsals and performances that fill our lives and calendars. Of the many challenges facing singers, staying healthy is probably the most important of all! Many of the tips you are about to read, are things you already know. However, a few reminders may keep you in good voice for all your endeavors.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I think I may have posted about this before! 😊
- Drink more water! Breathe steam! If you live in a dry climate, consider outfitting your home in humidifiers. This time of year you should keep your home humidifiers running at about 50%.
- Keep an assortment of your favorite herbal teas at hand if you find water monotonous. If you prefer a sweet treat, consider adding honey. It can soothe a tender throat and has natural antibiotic properties.
- If you are sensitive to dairy products, save the egg nog for after your gigs. In some individuals, certain dairy products can cause mucus to thicken. Thick mucus impedes the free oscillation of the vocal folds making it necessary to exert greater breath pressure to create sound and/or more breath pressure to blow the thicker mucus off the vocal folds.
- REST! Rest your voice, rest your body, rest your mind. Remember that even if you are NOT actively phonating, your larynx may be moving as though actually singing even if you are just listening to your music. Remember speaking and singing use the same muscles and coordination. REST = QUIET!
- Eat well! As time is a precious commodity, grabbing a quick bite can be tempting! Acid reflux is a common affliction for singers. A healthy diet will reduce the possibility or symptoms. Spicy foods, while delicious, can irritate the pharynx and cause additional sensitivity or swelling. Enjoy with care!
- Practice Smart! Not every rehearsal requires 100% of your effort 100% of the time. Sing smart & save your best for performance. Some may take issue with this and say you should always give it your all. If you have the luxury of abundant rest, by all means, sing with all the joy and passion you have within you! But, if your calendar has few to no days of rest, budget your resources wisely.
- Cool down vocally after rehearsal or a concert. During especially busy weeks, warm salt water gargles can aid recovery by whisking away extra swelling and soothing tender throat tissues. I realize the salt water never actually contacts the vocal folds, but swelling can be reduced in near tissues and the extra water in the vocal tissues will be pulled out indirectly.
- Have a well packed Gig Bag!
A GIG BAG could include: 2 full water bottles – tea, snacks, fuzzy socks, scarf, throat drops (NO MENTHOL, EVER! More on that later…), tissue, hand sanitizer, saline spray, lip balm, acetaminophen (not ibuprofen or other NSAIDS they can contribute to vocal fold bruising – more on this later too!), pencil, post-it notes, thank you notes, business cards, pitch pipe, and if soloing – an extra copy of your music. Be prepared to share! 😊
I don’t know what December is without every weekend jam packed with music. With care and preparation, I hope to never face that sadness. Sing with joy and sing well! –
Contributed by Author Melissa Shallberg