How do you keep your voice healthy for singing? What are the bad habits you should avoid? Anyone who learns an instrument needs to learn how to take care …
Hey, singers! Have you ever seen those
YouTube videos where they smash an
iPhone on camera to show you how easy it
is? Well, in today's video I'm going to
show you 10 surprisingly simple ways to
wreck your voice! That's right,
totally destroy your voice! Now, do I want
you to go out and do that? Of course not!
But anyone who learns an instrument, also
needs to learn how to take care of that
instrument and taking care of your voice
often involves avoiding 10 extremes. So,
we're going to investigate those in
today's video. Let's get started right
now!
Hello and welcome to Total Voice TV. My
name is Darren Wicks. I'm a contemporary
singing coach and choir director from
Melbourne, Australia and founder of Total
Voice Studio. Our mission at Total Voice
Studio is to help you feel good about
singing, and to feel good when you sing.
If you like learning about singing, I am
uploading new YouTube videos full of
singing tips regularly and the best way
not to miss one is to subscribe to this
channel. So, go ahead hit that subscribe
and bell icon and I'll let you know
every time a video is released. And now,
onto today's content. Mistake number one –
too noisy. The first step in taking care
of your voice is to look at the
environment in which you're using your
voice. You've probably noticed that noisy
environments cause you to increase your
volume and effort in order to lift your
voice up above the noise. This is known
as the Lombard Effect or the Lombard
Reflex. We've all been at those loud
parties or in a noisy restaurant, where
it feels like our voice is getting
drowned out. Talking for a long time
in a noisy environment causes vocal
fatigue and strain and it's not very
easy to control this, because the Lombard
Reflex is largely an involuntary
reaction. So, what can you do? Firstly, be
conscious about protecting your voice in
noisy environments and seek an
alternative if it's available. At home,
this might be as simple as closing a
window or a door, or moving to a
different room. In a public venue like a
restaurant or cafe, consider moving to a
different table or going outside to talk.
Mistake Number Two – Too Loud. Yelling or screaming of any sort is like power
lifting for the muscles. It's incredibly
strenuous and energetic work for your
voice. When you yell, you lift up the tone
of your speaking voice. You also increase
the air pressure under your vocal folds and generally use
a lot of pushing or constriction in the
throat. How much of this your voice can
cope with, will depend on some genetic
factors, on your general level of health,
and also what voice training you've had
in the past. While there are safer ways
that you can yell, prolonged yelling or
screaming of any sort is a surefire way
to injure your voice and some of these
injuries can be very serious, including
vocal fold hemorrhages, lesions,
and growths on the vocal folds
themselves. Some people seem to yell all
the time, either at home to get people's
attention, or at sporting matches to cheer
on their favourite team. Also, some jobs
such as teachers, actors, and coaches
involve regularly talking to large
groups of people and in large open
spaces. This kind of work carries with it
a real temptation to yell. Some sensible
alternatives to yelling would be to use
proximity or move closer to the listener.
When you need to get people's attention,
or make a loud noise, consider using
whistles, clapping, or bells. And if you're
someone who regularly talks to large
groups of people, or in open spaces,
consider using amplification or a PA
system. Mistake Number Three – too soft. If
you've ever had a cold, sore throat, or
laryngitis, you might have noticed the
tendency to try and save your voice by
whispering and talking softly. However,
whispering is quite strenuous for your
voice. When we whisper, we alter the way
the vocal folds come together, often
holding them a rigid, or creating gaps
that allow lots of air to get through. It
might appear like you're saving your
voice, but whispering requires more vocal
effort than talking just at a normal
volume. If you're sick, have a sore throat,
or laryngitis, try to minimize your vocal
work as much as possible. And if you want
to know more on this topic, check out my
youtube video on
laryngitis tips for singers. A link is in the
description box below, and appearing on
your screen right now. Mistake Number
Four – too long or too much. We all know
that overworking your muscles, or
strenuous exercise of any sort produces
fatigue. And the same thing applies to
your voice. Vocal fatigue is a term
that's used to describe any sense of
weakness tiredness or fatigue in your
voice that comes about through overuse.
Vocal fatigue can come about because of
a medical problem you have with your
voice, or simply because of the way
you're using your voice. But the simplest
way you can experience vocal fatigue, is
by loading up your voice and singing or
speaking for a long time without a rest.
If you're not careful, fatigue can
quickly become a vicious cycle, since
when our muscles are weak and tired, we
tend to push them harder to try and
squeeze more out of them. Be aware that
if you're sick or suffering from laryngitis
or allergies, your voice is particularly
vulnerable to fatiguing quickly. You
should think of fatigue as an early
warning sign and if you don't heed that
warning, more lasting and permanent
problems can arise. You can help prevent
voice fatigue by taking a vocal nap
which is 5 to 20 minutes of complete
vocal rest. Try to include several vocal
naps throughout your day. You can do this
by making sure you rest your voice
during your break times, and also try to
space out your vocally demanding work so
that you don't try and do it all in one
go. Mistake Number Five – too short, or put
another way, too cold. If you want to
train and improve your voice, then
approach your vocal folds the same way
that an athlete approaches their legs.
Every athlete knows the value of warming
up their body before strenuous exercise,
and singers are the same. Research on
singers and speakers has shown that
those who use a regular warm-up routine,
almost unanimously report
better vocal stamina, fewer injuries
in the long-term, and a greater sense of
vocal ease. Like a physical warm-up, your
vocal warm-ups should be thought of
gentle things that get things moving
across your entire vocal range. I've done
a complete YouTube video on the topic of
vocal warm-ups. A link for that is
appearing on your screen right now, and
also in the description box below. It is
a great idea to go and visit a voice
coach and get a personalized warm-up
made specifically for you and Total
Voice Studio provides this service.
Mistake Number Six – Too High.
For the longest time, singers and
audiences have been excited by those
high climactic notes often called 'money
notes' in the music industry. We
instinctively know that these notes
require an incredible degree of skill to
produce and sustain. Singers can run into
trouble when they try to imitate and
belt out high notes that they hear in
recordings, without knowing the correct
technique, or without first training
their vocal range. Damage doesn't happen
because the note is high. Actually, the
voice can vibrate across a really wide
range, but the damage comes from the
extra collision force that happens and
the squeezing or pushing of muscles if
we try to belt out high notes without
good technique. Singing exercises and
vocal lessons can help give your voice
the skill and flexibility it needs to
hit those high notes
safely, and be able to sustain them.
Mistake Number Seven – too low. It's not all
about those high notes. Actually, singing
any notes repeatedly that are outside of
your comfortable range, can fatigue and
strain your voice. As a contemporary
singer, you need strength in your chest
voice and the bottom of your range, so
that your vocal folds can close
efficiently and resist the airflow. This
produces powerful low notes and a solid
foundation
to your technique. It's particularly
relevant if you're a female singer who
suffers from a breathy voice at the
bottom of your range or difficulty
producing strong low notes. Another way
that low notes can damage your voice is
through monotone speaking, or keeping
your voice down in a crackly, gravelly
place. When you're speaking pitch is too
low, and the airflow is inconsistent, it
produces a sound that we call vocal fry.
Fry is used as a special effect in many
contemporary styles of singing, and it
generally doesn't cause a problem in
singing. However, speech therapists tend
to disagree on whether vocal fry is a
problem if it's used habitually in your
day-to-day speech. Glottal onsets, where
you start your speech with a low pitched
grab, can definitely be a problem. I like
to think of it this way – Nothing in your
body works better if you lock it down
and keep it in one place. The best and
most healthy range for your voice is
dynamic, where your voice is allowed to
be flexible and move around. Mistake
Number Eight – Too Dry. I've spoken on this
topic before in my youtube video,
"Hydration Tips for Singers." Water is
the single most important substance that
we consume. As well as contributing to
our general health, water has an
important role for us as singers and
speakers. The act of singing involves
repeated tiny collisions of your vocal
folds, and this generates heat, friction,
and wear and tear on your vocal organs.
Just as your car needs oil to lubricate
its moving parts against friction, so
your body produces a thin watery mucus
that coats and protects your vocal folds.
If we become dehydrated, that thin mucus
can become thick and gluggy, and it can
cause other problems like the need to
repeatedly clear your throat. If you'd
like to know more about keeping yourself
hydrated as a singer, check out
my YouTube video of hydration tips for
singers. A link for that is in the
description box below and on your screen
right now.
Mistake Number Nine – Too Irritating. This means we want to avoid anything that's known
to be abrasive or abusive to the voice
and it applies particularly to anything
you inhale, since the air that we breathe
in, first washes over your vocal folds
before it reaches your lungs. Smoking of
any type, including cigarettes, cigars,
vaping and e-cigarettes, has major health
risks associated with it. But it's
particularly damaging to your voice. Why
is that? Because the burning end of the
cigarette measures about 200 degrees
Celsius. It's incredibly hot and, when
those embers break off and travel down
your windpipe, they can lodge onto your
throat or onto the vocal folds
themselves, and cause destructive damage.
Also, the tar and other chemicals found
in cigarettes produce excessive mucus
and are particularly irritating to the
throat. This applies unfortunately
also to second-hand or passive smoking.
Environments that a dry, smoky, or
excessively air-conditioned can also be a
source of irritation to your voice and
can reduce your vocal stamina. For
the stage performer, wigs, costumes, makeup,
set materials, and even special effects
used on stage, can all be a source of
vocal irritation. A common way that
people irritate the vocal folds, is
through clearing the throat. That "ahem"
sound you hear is actually the
edges of the vocal folds grinding
against each other. Doing this once-in-a
while is probably not going cause you
too many problems, but it's the repeated
clearing of your throat that tends to
irritate the voice quite a lot. As much
as it feels like you're clearing gunk or
mucus off your vocal folds, all you're
actually doing is shifting it to one
side, and usually that
mucus will find its way back onto the
vocal folds, which then sets up a vicious
cycle of repeatedly clearing your throat.
There are better alternatives to
clearing your throat. Two things you
could try, is gently sipping water, and
the second, the sarcastic cough. To do that, just cough gently on an "eh" sound like
this "eh, eh, eh" and then swallow twice repeat the process again and swallow twice. Give it
a try and see how it works for you!
Mistake Number 10 – Too Acidic. One of the most
irritating substances for your voice
actually comes from within. Your stomach
secretes acids and enzymes that are used
to digest your food. If the valve at the
top of your stomach malfunctions, that
acid can flow backwards into your food
pipe, causing a condition known as
heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD,
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder. Acid
reflux can be a real problem for singers.
If the stomach acids come into contact
with your throat or voice, it is called
LPR or Laryngo-Pharyngeal Reflux. Acid
reflux can cause a variety of unwanted
vocal symptoms, including feeling like
there's a lump in your throat, needing to
clear your throat repeatedly, poor vocal
stamina, postnasal drip, a sour taste in
your mouth, and just a general sore or
discomfort in your throat.
Acid reflux can also be a problem when
there are no obvious symptoms of
heartburn and we call this kind of
reflux "silent" reflux. Reflux is caused by
a variety of lifestyle factors, including
eating too much, eating spicy foods,
eating a short time before you lie down
at night. Also, stress and anxiety can be
contributing factors. Even if you've
never experienced symptoms of acid
reflux, all singers need
to be aware of this as a potential
problem. Just one poorly-timed
episode of reflux before an audition or
a concert, can significantly affect your
vocal quality. If you suspect you're
suffering from acid reflux, your first
port of call should be your local GP or
family doctor, who can advise you on your
medical options. Guys, your vocal folds
are an incredible instrument! In an adult
male or female, they're just 15 to 17
millimeters long – no bigger than your
thumbnail! But, they can easily withstand
millions of collisions across your
entire lifetime. The human voice is
incredibly resilient and resistant to
injury. Despite our best efforts,
vocal problems do occur at times. Being a
singer who is serious about your vocal
training means you know how to take care
of your voice, and you can avoid the
common causes and vocal injuries. As
we've seen in today's video, many times
that involves avoiding extremes of too
high, too low, too loud, and too soft.
Singers, if you appreciate the
information and tips here, don't forget
to show your support by giving this
video a "thumbs up" like. Also, if you
haven't already, hit that subscribe
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I upload a new video. Until next time,
keep singing, keep your voice healthy, and
remember, you were born to sing! Bye!

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