The Importance Of Looking After Your Voice For Vocalists

We all have a friend or know someone who owns an expensive guitar in their collection and treats it like a fine wine or a classic sports car, taking extreme care every time their precious belonging is used…

However, when was the last time you heard of someone taking such extreme care over a very different instrument? – Your voice!
Unlike a precious instrument in the general sense, your voice cannot be replaced with new strings, or taken to a workshop for a service.

So, how can we best keep our voice in tip top shape?

Vocalist Singing into a Microphone

In this post and the accompanying video, we’ll cover a few things for you to consider.

Exercise

Many people wouldn’t consider singing as a work-out but it certainly is. Anyone who thinks that singing your heart out for 90 minutes is as easy as chatting with a friend over coffee should really give it a try for themselves.

The more in shape your body is, the less chance you’ll have of being out of breath during your performance. Staying in shape can mean something different for everyone and can include anything from basic cardio work to swimming, yoga or cycling.

Preparation Before a Show

If we now consider a vocal performance akin to a workout as mentioned above, then the same applies to food. You wouldn’t go to the gym 15 minutes after eating a meal would you?

Eating at least 2 hours before a performance will give your body plenty of time to digest – and more importantly prevent indigestion or acid reflux. Indigestion can be really uncomfortable at the best of times, and the acid from a reflux can really damage your vocal folds.

Natural Anti-inflammatories

Often overlooked but well worth you having in your bag are anti-inflammatories such as pineapple juice or camomile tea. These liquids can help soothe your voice and will help you relax.

A Scarf?!

How is a scarf going to look after my voice you ask?

Wearing a scarf can help prevent your throat from drying out and also keeps your throat warm – important especially if you are going to a lot of air-conditioned hotels, venues, or even planes.
It needn’t be a huge winter scarf, just a light one is fine

Magic Bottle of Water

Ok, well it doesn’t have to be magic but having a bottle of water on you at all times is probably the most important thing for a singer – it helps you keep lubricated. Try to drink room temperature water. If your water is too cold, it isn’t good for the throat.

Smoking & Drinking Alcohol

Clearly neither of these past-times are going to be ideal for preserving your voice…

…..First up, smoking actually burns away the mucus that you need for your larynx to keep nice and lubricated – so it really is damaging for the vocals.

And over to alcohol – Try putting some alcohol on your skin and you’ll notice how it dries it out. Drinking alcohol dries out your throat in exactly the same way.

So, although you think you’re getting some Dutch courage by having a drink or two before or during your gig, what you are actually doing is drying your throat out and not enabling your voice to perform to the best of its abilities.


Keep an eye on the Shure Vocal Mastery YouTube channel for more videos aimed specifically at vocalists. Should you wish to record your vocals then check out our blog post on tips for vocal recording.

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Paul Crognale

Paul Crognale

Paul works in Global Marketing for the Retail Channel, and also assists with Artists Relations & Partnerships. In his spare time, he is an avid collector of vinyl and runs a couple of record labels of his own. He also has a ‘peach’ or potentially ‘pink’ coloured bike – this fact is the source of much amusement to his colleagues.

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1 Comment

  • Lonesome Twin says:

    I’m sure Leonard Cohen, Marianne Faithfull and many, many others will happily endorse your comments on smoking and drinking!

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