In this short video Stuart Burke shares with us a few ideas and techniques that will strengthen your voice, keep your voice healthy and improve your confidence when your singing.
“Good Vocal Technique doesn’t start when you open your mouth to produce a note, nor does it even start with a good intake of breath, it starts with how you’ve been preparing in the long term for this moment of singing. This includes your diet, your lifestyle and your daily practices.”
Singing in times of worship is quite unique in what we’re actually asking the voice to do. It’s not the same as gigging on a regular basis like a professional singer, but it’s more than just singing in the shower! In this set of Equip videos I’m going to take you through a few ideas and techniques that will strengthen your voice, keep your voice healthy, improve your confidence and generally help you sing better!
Good Vocal Technique doesn’t start when you open your mouth to produce a note, nor does it even start with a good intake of breath, it starts with how you’ve been preparing in the long term for this moment of singing. This includes your diet, your lifestyle and your daily practices.
There are things you can eat and drink which are good for your voice and there are also things that are bad for your voice.
Now, if you can take only one thing away from these tutorials, take this: DRINK MORE WATER! HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE! The voice cannot operate if it’s dehydrated. If you feel thirsty then you’ve already entered the first stages of dehydration. Try and drink at least 2 litres of water a day. I know this sounds a lot but it really is the minimum. Always carry a bottle of water with you, mine comes everywhere with me!
Another thing that is good for hydrating your voice is steam. Steam brings hydration directly to the vocal chords. The best way to steam is with a Dr Nelson’s Inhaler which you can get from this link:
They are quite expensive at around £30 but that’s your top end piece. You can also get a plastic one from Boots which is cheaper and if all else fails you can boil a small pan of water, then once it’s boiled, stick your head over it with a towel over your head and breath through your mouth.
Steam for a minimum of 10 minutes and be careful not to sing or shout or talk too strenuously for around half an hour after steaming. The steam relaxes your vocal chords so much that to make them do anything too strenuous while they’re in this fragile state can hurt them.
Honey, Lemon and Ginger Tea
My not so secret little recipe for a vocal tea is fresh ginger, peeled and diced, lemon juice and manuka honey all stirred into hot water. Ginger is really good for the voice so you can cook with it as much as you like as well as having it in the tea! Lemon breaks down phlegm and catarrh and manuka honey is creates a nice soothing layer on your vocal chords without sticking too much.
Iron is a really important thing to have in your diet as a singer as it speeds up recovery and helps boost your immune system. Spinach is a great form of iron so get that in your sarnies! Also keep your vitamin C levels up.
Throat Sweets and Medicines
If you’re feeling a bit under or vocally tired there are a few things you can use to help you out but these shouldn’t be used on a prolonged basis. There’s a Chinese medicine call Pei Pa Koa. You can buy it in most Chinese medicine shops or online here:
You can take a spoonful as a medicine or it makes a nice hot tea.
If you need a throat lozenge I would recommend Jakemans over any others. I like the black liquorice ones best. They’re good because they don’t contain an anesthetic like Vocalzones do. I’d warn you away from Vocalzones because they numb the feeling in the vocal chords so you won’t feel it if you really are hurting yourself!
Things that your vocal chords really don’t like are:
- Dairy – because it creates phlegm and makes you claggy
- Coffee – because it dehydrates you. I know it’s hard on a Sunday morning and all you want is that first cup of coffee but ideally, if you could wait until after the worship set then grab a coffee, your voice will thank you!
- Alcohol – especially white wine because it strips your vocal chords of all the good nutrients and dehydrates you. Which leads me nicely onto my next point…
- If you know you’re leading worship on a Sunday morning don’t go out drinking until the early hours on Saturday night! Try your best to get a really good nights sleep before you sing. When you’re tired the first thing to go is usually your voice.
All these things are just what’s worked for me. You might be different. We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made so just try some things and see what works for you.