Singers, voice artists, actors and public speakers have one thing that is the most integral part of them as performers and that is their vocals. Over the period of time, due to over use and exertion performers tend to suffer from vocal strain. Vocal strain is having difficulty producing desired sound when trying to speak or do any other vocal activities. This may result into change in pitch,and the voice may come out weak, breathy, scratchy or husky. And trust me you don’t want that when there is a room full of people waiting for you to belt out your voice and give them a performance of a life time.
Voice strain is a special problem for voice actors who does animated characters and caricature voices where they need to squeeze their voices. Now it may turn out good but it is an exercise not supported by breathing and hence tends to have a bad effect over the time. There are performers who loose their vocal abilities due to a bad vocal coach. There is a difference between screaming and hollering which a lot of vocal coaches fail to teach and explain the artists. For example, screaming is what you do when India wins the world cup. Hollering is when a great actor is doing shakespeare on stage. It’s always clear and smooth. No grating and grinding. So in 2015 lets take care of those vocals and invest in them.
First and foremost resolve to keep yourself hydrated. Water is the most essential tool to maintain good vocals. Don’t get into fancy kind of ways to keep you hydrated. Just good old boiled water will do the trick. Dairy products is a complete no-no as it coats your vocals, ruining the actual quality. Avoid coffee, soda, vitamin drinks, basically anything with sugar . Having herbal tea or black tea is okay just make sure there is no milk involved. One of the great ways to open up and soothe your vocals is to boil some distilled water and inhale the steam for 60 seconds and repeat the process couple of times a day. Steam will scrub out impurities and soothe any irritation you are feeling. Important thing to remember is that you don’t need expensive vitamins to keep your vocals or health in check. Just eat right and your vocals will be fine. Try including fruits such as pineapple and apple who will help keep those allergies away. So eat right and you’ll be alright.
Second thing you need to resolve is to engage in vocal exercises everyday regardless of you’re performing or not. Exercise your facial and lip muscles, starting with a big smile. Try making five vowel sounds and putting a consonant in front of the vowel and uttering the sounds softly. This will help your voice to operate at different volumes with breath support. Another thing to remember is that a bad teacher is worse than no teacher at all. So if your vocal coach tells you that your vocal chords is a muscle you need to build then you need to run the other way. Whatever vocal exercise you’re doing should not cause discomfort or pain. You’re supposed to feel better, not worse; the adage “No pain, no gain” does not apply to vocal exercises.
Lastly, stop talking. Shut up. Give your vocal chords some break. It can be a day’s break or a month’s. It’s absolutely up to you and your vocal’s condition. Its advisable to rest your vocals before and after a performance. Too much strain will never amount to anything good. Vocals are delicate and you need to treat them as such. Please also take into consideration that whispering is not at all a good call. It will cause more straining then usual. Simply value it and make sure that what you do is in no way painful or stressful.
In the end there are no rules that are set in stone. What might work for some might not work for others. It’s a trial and error method, totally depending on an individual. Just keep the common sense factor intact.