The human voice emanates from a very delicate instrument; a finely tuned collection of tissue, cartilage, ligament, bone and mucus, that when operating efficiently can create a beautiful sound via vibration of the vocal folds resonating through the cavities of the throat, mouth, nose and sinuses. Singing is not only a spiritual and recreational activity, it is also athletic in nature, since it is the physical coordination of all these parts that makes a pleasant voice.
Because of this, it is imperative that a serious singer examine not only their daily practice routine, but also how they are treating their body on a day to day basis. Proper hydration and nutrition are essential in the serious singer, just as they are essential in the serious athlete.
Some very real tips for singers:
1) Get the right amount of sleep… Your body functions best when it is rested, as you know. The sound of your voice is one of the first indicators of fatigue; even a friend miles away can tell you that you “sound tired” on the phone. Since you’ll refuse to show your fatigue in a performance, (and rightfully so), you’ll have to expend extra energy just to get your “mix” and into your high notes. You will push your voice harder than you should; it’s inevitable. Sleep!
2) Pay attention to your diet… what you eat affects your voice greatly; not just in the short run (right before a gig) but in the long run: vocal production is adversely affected by the thickening of mucus in the laryngeal area, and that can be the direct result of a poor diet. When mucus is thick and chunky, that’s when we feel we have to clear our throat, and the very act of doing so is hard on the voice. If the clearing continues, swelling of the vocal folds occurs, and the singer finds himself clearing more and more to get rid of mucus that is no longer there; now what’s there is just the swelling. Swollen vocal cords sound hoarse and are difficult and sometimes painful to work with.Drinking water, not soda but fresh clean water, will thin the mucus and make it slide down easily, while protecting the delicate tissues of the throat.
As a general rule, fish and chicken, lean foods, vegetables and fruits, herbal teas, grains and whole foods, and lots of water are good for the singing voice…
As a general rule, fatty foods, fast food, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol, soda, sugar, dairy products can be hard on the singing voice, producing a thicker mucus as described above
3) Drink plenty of water!! Good fresh water, not soda… people say “well soda has water in it, doesn’t that count? No, because there’s too much junk in it as well, and the body is not using it the same way… 8 x 8 ounce glasses per day, not just when singing… the idea is consistent hydration!!