Woman grabbing her throat and holding glass of water. Voice Over

How to Care for Your Voice

By Shawn Leonhardt for 30 Day Singer and Guitar Tricks

Often, when we think of caring for instruments, our minds wander to physical objects that we play. 

But you may forget that your voice is an instrument that needs training and maintenance, which requires some effort and vigilance.

Whether you are a voice over actor, singer, or any kind of vocal performer here are some great tips on how to care for your voice:

Be Mindful of Harmful Food and Chemicals

This is advice that most voice actors and singers are aware of, but we still need reminders. It’s easy to slip into bad habits and avoid reality, but we can keep our vocal health in mind when making certain decisions:

Smoking

Smoking is an obvious problem, even if you want a gravelly voice; this is not the way to go about it. Vaping is also incredibly bad for vocal cords, avoiding both is very important.

Alcohol

Accessive alcohol use is not only unhealthy, but it will also not help with voice recordings or staying in the right pitch! Even seasoned voice actors and performers do not fare the best when under the influence of ethanol and similar sedatives.

Caffeine

Caffeine and stimulants will lift your spirits and energy, and many find this advantageous. However, they also cause health problems, can wreck your enunciation, and lead to mumbled and fast talking. You don’t want that creeping into your performance on stage, in the vocal booth, or during your vocal lessons. 

Hot Liquids

Hot liquids and foods are known to cause damage to vocal cords and the esophagus. During a vocal recording it is best to drink water that is not too hot or cold.

Harmful Foods

Food in general can be harmful if you are not eating a balanced diet. Being overweight is not only hard on the body, but it also causes heavier breathing, and thus way more vocal editing and recording issues! Spicy foods have also been known to be a serious culprit. 

Watch How You Use Your Voice

If you are not careful, vocal strain or exhaustion can occur quickly, we need to be mindful of how we use our voice to make sure we are not the cause of any problems:

Screaming

Yelling, screaming, and straining your voice is obviously not good. However, sometimes a voice gig requires that exact acting. If you must strain, take a lot of breaks, and give your voice time to heal.

Vocal Fry

Whispering or implementing a vocal fry example can also be problematic if done too often, it also puts strain on the voice! Many ASMR whisperers can attest to the fact that too much of it hurts!

Clearing Your Throat

Clearing your throat often is another way to put unnecessary strain on the vocal cords. For some, this can be a hard habit to break before speaking, like a nervous tick, but we want to avoid it as much as possible.

Know Your Vocal Limits

Know your limits of what your voice can do. Can it take intense strain, very long audiobooks, or silly changes? If you try to act or sing with your voice out of its normal range, you will sound off and maybe even do damage to your vocal cords.

Practice

Practice is essential, you must actively work on making yourself a better speaker and voice actor. Seek out exercises and ideas for your voice, your craft is never perfect and can always use some work.

Avoid Illness

It is not possible to avoid all diseases, but if you care for your voice, try your best to avoid catching any colds and infections: 

Influenza

Flu and respiratory infections have always been a problem for singers and voice actors. Not only can they lead to missing a show or deadline, but they can also cause further laryngitis or long-term damage. 

Pollution

Pollution and even secondhand smoke can have a huge effect on your lung and vocal capacity. Unfortunately like disease, these are hard-to-control factors, just be mindful of the air you breathe.

Exercise

Exercise and eat as healthy as possible so your body will have a fighting chance when it confronts invaders. Prevention is always the best way of dealing with illness and your voice will thank you later in life.

Seek Medical Advice

Talk to your doctor or medical professional about your job as a voice over actor vocal performer. Let them know you need to keep an eye out for vocal nodules, polyps, and other disorders. You can also talk to them about how to get your voice back if it goes hoarse.

Take Care Of Your Voice

There are so many things that can cause vocal harm that it’s easy to forget some basic steps that are helpful with both short-term recordings and long-term care:

Vocal Routine

A proper vocal routine including vocal warm ups before any session is crucial to ensuring your voice lasts for years and years. Just as an athlete warms up their body before a game, you too should warm up your voice before a performance.

Hydration

Hydrate and drink water as much as possible. 

Humidity

Humidity levels in your home and recording space will need monitoring or adjustment. You may need different levels of humidity depending on where you live, but your lungs, sinuses, and vocal cords will all function better with proper moisture levels. This is especially important now that so many people are working and recording or taking online singing lessons from home.

Breaks

Take breaks when necessary and don’t overdo practice or work. Once you strain or hurt your vocal cords, it’s hard, and in some cases impossible, to recover. So try not to create more issues, and again know your limits.

Relaxing

Relaxing and certain meditation techniques and exercises can be great for vocal health. 

Sleep

Sleep and rest are like hydration, more important than we realize. Record a vocal take after a night of no sleep and you will quickly see how difficult it can be.

It turns out that the process of caring for our voices, is also great health advice. This makes sense because your bodies and voices are the instruments that need to be taken care of. If you follow the general health guidelines above and keep practicing you will have overall better vocal health. 

In the long run, this will lead to better voice-over recordings and hopefully even more projects.

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