Teacher’s Corner: Sarah Davis One Voice- Speaking And Singing
Even if you do not consider yourself a singer, you use your voice every day for communication. Knowledge is the key to preventing vocal damage!
Vocal Health Quiz
Which of the following can be bad for your voice?
C. Stifling a sneeze
D. Cheering at sporting events
F. All of the above
Answer: F. All of the above.
Whispering is talking without vocal fold vibration. When the vocal folds aren’t allowed to vibrate normally, there is tension present. If your voice is tired and you’re tempted to whisper, try writing notes instead of talking or whispering. If you must speak, talk quietly with plenty of air flow.
Coughing can be traumatic to your vocal folds. The folds essentially slam together with a lot of effort when coughing, and excessive coughing can lead to structural changes to the folds such as nodules, polyps or hemorrhage. Instead of coughing, try to sip some water. If that doesn’t work, try sending out a gentle “huff” of air. This will be easier on your vocal folds than coughing. If you find you have a chronic cough that doesn’t go away in two weeks, you should see a doctor.
Stifling a sneeze
Cover your nose and mouth as necessary, and let it out! Do not block your nose or mouth when you sneeze. The pressure that builds up can cause vocal fold hemorrhage and potential ear drum problems. Carry tissues with you during spring allergy season!
Ever feel hoarse or lose your voice completely after cheering at a game? You may have experienced “traumatic laryngitis.” In the heat of the moment, you may not be aware that how you’re using your voice is causing damage. Instead of yelling, use noisemakers, clap your hands, or whistle.
Chronic throat-clearing can cause problems similar to those of a chronic cough and can be an indication of acid reflux or an existing voice problem. If you tend to clear your throat often throughout the day, for several days in a row, you may want to be seen by a doctor.
When to see a doctor
If you have experienced a sudden change in the quality of your voice, or if a voice quality change has lasted 10 days or longer, you would be wise to see a Laryngologist, or Ear, Nose and Throat doctor (ENT). Voice quality changes include huskiness, hoarseness, breathiness, changes to your usual speaking pitch, straining to speak or sing, increased effort used to speak or sing, loss of range, or feeling like it takes longer to warm up.
You can prevent voice problems by following a few simple guidelines. Here are some tips to help you be a more effective speaker and singer.
- If your throat hurts, do not sing!
- Stay hydrated.
- If you suspect you have acid reflux, make appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle. If these have no effect, see your doctor for advice.
- Stay loose. Release tension in your neck, shoulders, jaw, and tongue when speaking or singing.
- Take breaths at places of punctuation. Try to avoid speaking for long periods without breathing.
- Use a sufficient amount of air flow when speaking or singing.
- Find your resonance! Vibrating sensations should be felt in your face and head, but not your throat when speaking or singing.
- Speak at an appropriate pitch for your gender and age. If you’re not sure, consider consulting with one of our voice teachers. Speaking pitch should feel natural – not forced too high or low – and without excess tension in the neck and throat.
- Avoid speaking on “vocal fry” for long periods. Vocal fry is that creaky, gravelly low style of speech often used by young women. It is an indication of low air flow which can cause vocal fatigue.
Here’s to your vocal health!!!