Jake Jacobs offers tips to keep your voice healthy:
As singers, we have the benefit of carrying our instrument with us everywhere we go. The down-side is… We take our instrument EVERYWHERE we go; we don’t have the luxury of throwing it into a case for a week while we get over the flu. Like athletes, our voices are best utilized and conditioned for endurance when we take care of our bodies and warm-up before every vocal workout. Here are some tools we can have in our belt to assist us in maintaining healthy vocals. Some of these methods can be used in conjunction with methods you currently use, while others are methods that really should replace potentially bad habits.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
“If your throat hurts or you feel like you’re losing your voice, whisper!” – is hands-down, the worst advice… EVER! It may seem to make sense, like “If you have an injured ankle, you shouldn’t run.”; thinking that if you could favor the object that is injured by engaging in a less strenuous activity – you would certainly be helping the healing process, right? Actually, this couldn’t be farther from the truth when it comes to the voice. When we whisper, we are forcing air through our vocal chords like wind through the blades of grass between our thumbs (remember being a kid?). The problem is that when we whisper, we ARE creating and shaping sounds. When the air passes rapidly across the vocal folds to create a whisper, what we’re hearing is the sibilant “high pitch” of air whisping through the vocal folds. This method is downright dangerous for vocal health… so don’t do it. Opt to grab a pen & paper, or at the very most talk quietly. Another habit to avoid is clearing your throat (“a-HEM!)… this is considered a traumatic vibration to your vocal chords.
ONE, TWO, THREE, STRETCH!
You’ve probably been taught in the past to roll your head around your neck like a bobble-head toy to stretch those hyoid muscles. Well, don’t. While that technique may end up stretching some important muscles, you may lose the benefit of ALSO stretching the much needed suprahyoid muscles under the chin and jaw. A more appropriate stretching exercise would be to tilt the head straight back, open your mouth really wide, close your mouth, and swallow once or twice really deeply and slowly. Then, to stretch your trapezius (back of neck), tilt your chin to your sternum, then move slowly to the left and right until you can easily see your shoulders.