Friday, June 19, 2009

Take Care of those Pipes!

5 Professional Tips for the Proper Care of Your Voice.

Taking proper care of your voice is something you learn early on in the music and entertainment industry. Professional entertainers have known for years the importance of taking proper care of your “instrument.” These professionals religiously take measures to protect their ‘golden throats.”

Many of the vocal techniques or “tricks of the trade” used by entertainers can also be applied to the voice over artist profession. After all, you are performing in front of the microphone too!

Always breathe using your diaphragm muscles. This not only enables you to take a deeper breath but, it also helps you to stay relaxed in your neck, shoulder and chest area. Tension around your vocal cords can change the tone of your voice so, breath deep, relax your throat and keep your upper body relaxed.

If you have to eat before a recording session, make sure you only eat a light meal. A stomach that is too full can temporarily reduce your ability to breathe deeply. Keep your meals light and both your stomach and your producer will be happy!

Keep in mind that the foods and beverages you eat and drink can affect your vocal cords. Foods that have a creamy texture can alter how your voice sounds. Good food choices might be a light soup and sandwich or salad with fruit. Try to choose liquids you can easily see through that aren’t overly cold or hot. Actually, room temperature is best, especially when taking a sip to wet your throat during recording.

Protecting the sound quality of your voice isn’t limited to what you eat and drink. You have to actively take physical care of your head and throat as well. Do your best to avoid smoky rooms, chemical or exhaust smells. Bundle up and protect your neck and face in cold, blustery weather. Keep a scarf around your neck and over your mouth if necessary, to keep cold winter air out of your mouth. Breathing through your nose is how your body naturally warms and moistens the air you breathe. Your vocal cords work best when warm and relaxed. You may enter the studio looking like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer but, at least you won’t sound like him!

Another cold weather problem is electric heat. If there is a lot of static in your home or clothes the humidity in the air is not nearly high enough to protect your throat and vocal cords. A small room humidifier will greatly assist in eliminating the dry air problem. The ideal location would be the bedroom. You will wake up with a warm moist throat instead of a dry, scratchy one.

No matter how diligently you take care of yourself, it’s only a matter of time until you get a cold or sore throat. Drink plenty of fluids and get proper rest. If you have to take an over the counter medication to tame the symptoms, be aware that drying up post nasal drip and congestion will also dry out your voice. Ask your doctor to recommend some natural treatment alternatives to help you deal with your symptoms until the cold has run its course.

You alone are responsible for the quality of your voice. It is almost impossible to edit out the dry, raspy sound of your voice in a recording. When in doubt, don’t do the job. It’s better to pass on this job now, then to perform at a reduced capacity. Remember, you are being recorded and you don’t know who may get the pleasure (or pain) of listening to you.

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