We’ve all heard the advice. Don’t eat chocolate before a show. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Try not to sing in the cold. But do we actually know why? Do we know why the many old wives’ tales are actually true? Most of us don’t. Here are things to avoid that could ruin your voice.
Coffee & Alcohol
Drinking coffee and alcohol before performing will most certainly ruin your voice, due to the fact that both of these will dehydrate it. “So what?” you may say. If you sing while dehydrated, you are straining two very delicate muscles. The more you strain them, the faster they will age, and you can’t reverse repeated damage.
The quickest way to permanently damage your voice is to scream — and frequently. The jarring motion causes your cords to bleed. Even when they heal, they leave behind scar tissue. Over time (sometimes very quickly) this leads to vocal “nodes,” which are little bumps that will give your voice a permanent “raspy” quality. Be kind to your voice. Avoid screaming.
Smoking seriously increases your risk of developing vocal nodes much sooner. Its use makes hitting those high notes in your 30’s or 40’s a severe challenge. Not all of us want to be Tom Waits. If not just for your health, but for your career, give smoking a serious re-consideration. Do your very best to avoid it.
One of the most overlooked stressors on vocal cords. Depriving yourself of sleep will also cause your cords to be dehydrated. When you are asleep, your body replenishes energy and distributes fluid to the vocal cords, keeping them well rested. You can’t complete this process if you are awake, as it is physiologically not possible.
Taking care of your voice isn’t just a good idea — it will save your career. Don’t allow your voice to become destroyed. You are going to need it for a long time.
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Mike DiGirolamo has had a strong interest in music from a young age, playing both the cello and trombone. Outside of music he has a love for movies, theatre, and environmental science.