Taking care of your voice

I don't have all the answers, but this is an email I just sent to my voice students about taking care of their voices through the cold and flu season:

Hello everyone!

I hope everyone is staying healthy! With the start of school there's been an upswing in the
amount of colds going around.

In preparing to perform, practicing at least 4 times a week, and probably singing frequently
in chorus, it is important to take care of your voice. Singing through a cold is no fun,
so preventative measures can really make a difference. I am not a doctor, but I've sung
about health before, so I'm totally qualified to give advice :)
Here are some things I have found that help or hinder the health
of your voice.

1. DRINK. LOTS. OF. WATER. This is a basic rule of thumb. Drink not only
to stay hydrated and to keep all the working parts of your voice lubricated,
but also to cool down the muscles of the throat. Singing is an
aerobic activity and preventing inflamation is just as important in the
muscles related to your voice as it is after a long run. We can't ice those
muscles after a strenuous choir class or a difficult piece but we can cool
them down by drinking water. Water can also flush your system of toxins
and prevent a few more illnesses!
If you are drinking enough, your pee should be clear or very pale yellow.

2. Take a multivitamin. This is not a quick fix, but it really does boost
your immune system. Make sure your multivitamin contains zinc, which has been
proven to help lessen the symptoms and duration of a cold (that
comes straight from the mouth of my son's pediatrician).

3. Don't strain your voice. Screaming at games is fun. It's fun until the
game ends and you are stuck with a voice like an 83 year old with emphysema.
Cheer occasionally, but don't scream if you can help it. Over use of your voice
can cause inflammation which can make you more susceptible to infection.
Talking won't cause strain unless you talk for a long time with poor posture
and little support.

4. If you do get sick, take cough drops with zinc.

5. Humidifiers actually don't do that much for your voice (unless you have
it right next to your face), but they can make you sick if you don't clean out
the gross stuff that grows in them. The manufacturers actually
recommend cleaning them after each use. There was a
influence on your overall health when it comes to getting rid of a cold.
I recommend hot steamy showers to clear the nasal passages and humidify
your lungs in the morning.

6.If your throat hurts, don't sing. If your throat doesn't hurt, you can sing
without worrying that you are causing damage, just take a little more time to warm-up
and be patient with yourself.

I don't have a medical degree, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

I wish you all luck in staying healthy! Do you have any tips for staying healthy this winter? If so, please share!!


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