Five Ways to Maintain Your Voice “For Public Speakers and Singers”

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Cassandra Hill MA CCC-SLP

Cassandra Hill MA CCC-SLP

 

 

 

 

 
Who is this article for?  It is for public speakers, teachers, professors,  preachers, and dare I say singers who find  that at the end of a professional  day, they’ve lost their voice.  Nor does it return easily the next morning.  Perhaps there’s a chronic hoarseness. This can be a scary thing for people who depend on their voice professionally.   This could mean a loss of income, a demotion, or at the very least, time off.

My name is Cassandra Hill MA CCC-SLP and owner of Speech Therapy Enterprises LLC.  As a professional Speech Language Pathologist for twenty years, I have the unique opportunity to work with people who suffer from voice disorders.  My patients consistently complain about a loss of voice in the evenings or in the mornings.  They note a gradual loss of voice or voice changes through out the day or over several months.  Sometimes they find themselves perplexed after going into a speaking engagement for a seminar speaking perfectly fine and realize in the middle of the lecture that they are losing their voice.   They also feel that if they clear their throat a few more times it will help them regain their voice for the remainder of the lecture.  I’m hear to tell you that that is not a good practice or option.

Singers specifically are vulnerable to losing their voice.  Many singers come to me for the treatment of vocal cord nodules from vocal behaviors that are considered vocal abuse.  The behaviors are simple things that if refrained from can improve and restore one’s voice.  For example, it is not a good practice to belt out songs without singing from the diaphragm.  Many singers think they are, but once examined, it is clear that they are not using proper breath support for singing.

Before I outline five things to maintain one’s professional voice, it is important to suggest that if anyone thinks they have a voice disorder or are consistently hoarse, they should make a medical appointment with an ENT/Ear Nose and Throat doctor.   An ENT can evaluate the functional mobility of the vocal cords and detect if there is a disorder such as vocal nodules, vocal polyps, erythema secondary to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), or even paralysis of a cord(s) post stroke.  The visualization of the vocal cords are usually completed through a procedure called a nasal – endoscopy.   If there is a voice disorder, usually a referral to a speech language pathologist for treatment is the next logical step to alleviate the problem.  A speech language pathologist (SLP)  will increase a patient’s awareness to what he/she is doing on a daily basis that is detrimental to the health of one’s vocal cords that are maintaining a voice disorder.   SLPs teach professional speakers how to speak without losing their voice and teach singers vocal techniques to warm up his/her voice before singing.  In addition, SLPs teach singers vocal techniques for singing that help them achieve proper pitch and volume when singing.

So, now to the big reveal.  Listed below are 5 primary things professional voice users can do to maintain their voice.

 1. Drink 64oz of water daily:   This seems simple enough, but many times people think they can substitute sodas or other beverages to take the place of water.  They can’t and expect to have a healthy voice.  Vocal cords need hydration in order to vibrate adequately.  This allows flexibility for a healthy pitch range of 3 octaves or more.

2. Do not clear your throat:  Constantly clearing one’s throat can cause a condition known as vocal nodules.  Vocal nodules are usually bilateral (on both cords located directly across from each other on the anterior portion of the vocal cords).  Clearing the throat acts as a slapping of the cords over and over.  Soon, the nodules develop.  Here’s a tip, the norm for clearing one’s throat is zero to one times per day.  If you feel like you have a lump in your throat and you keep clearing your throat, you probably already have nodules.   See an ENT, then see an SLP.
3. Examine medications:  It would take too long to go into how many different medications affect the function of the vocal cords and their impact on the voice.  But, certain medications can maintain voice disorders.  As a speech language pathologist, I’m able to analyze medications for my patients and it helps to reduce or exchange certain medications that will restore one’s voice.  To specifically name medications for this article can be viewed as defamatory to specific brands, so I will refrain.  But the biggest offenders are nasal decongestants and pain killers.

4. Avoid yelling:  Some people don’t realize how loud they are speaking on a daily basis.  They talk over the car radio with the windows down, they talk over the t.v., they yell throughout the house to call one’s husband, wife or children.  One of the biggest offenders, yelling to chat with your friend in a club with the music blasting or the band playing in the background.  It can happen.  When it does, it is called vocal abuse and can cause one to lose his voice over time.

5.Avoid Alcohol:  Avoid alcohol and I don’t mean mean rubbing alcohol for achey muscles.  I mean drinking alcohol such as wine, beer or bourbon.  This is usually where I pass the tissue to my patients, “Not my wine!  You can’t take away my wine!”  Yes darling it’s true, alcohol will dehydrate the cords and leave your voice useless.  Especially, if you don’t drink water.   That’s a special note for singers who also indulge in a beverage before singing.

There are a multitude of other things that can affect the voice.  It’s a matter of analyzing lifestyles.  Again, it’s important to get a medical diagnosis before seeking out the assistance from a speech language pathologist.  I suggest this sequence if one wants his/her medical insurance to pay for the treatment.  It provides the SLP with a referral for the medical treatment and gives a medical foundation from which to start treatment.  In closing, I hope that the above tips were helpful and makes you think more about what could be the cause behind what seems to be a chronic voice disorder.    Visit www.SpeechTherapyEnterprisesLLC.com to learn more about Cassandra Hill and the services she provides.

One Comment

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  1. Aaliyah

    Great information and good article. Thank you for sharing with us. Thank you so much.

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