Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions about how to efficiently recuperate your voice after a long night of heavy singing. Hot tea with lemon, slippery elm, a raw egg, a hot toddy, and whispering to rest the voice are just a few of a long list of vocal remedy myths that have absolutely no impact on your voice.
Singing smart, drinking a lot of water, boosting your immune system, speeding up your metabolism and sleeping are just a few ways you can maintain a strong, healthy singing voice.
Hands down, the best way to help the recovery stage of your voice is not to exhaust it in the first place. Your voice can only recover a certain amount every day. If you tax your voice past its recovery range you will most certainly damage your voice. A trained singer should be able to sing up to 3 hours a night and leave the stage while he/she has more left in him/her.
Tension in the throat happens when the throat muscles tense up to compensate for the lack of breath support and body-connected singing. Our vocal chords are not designed to take such a punishment. If you feel vocal fatigue, coarse or raspy voice, or loss of range/accuracy towards the end of a long gig, you are most probably damaging your voice, especially if you do heavy singing regularly.
Once you have learned to rely on breath support and body-connected singing instead of tension, you can move onto the rest of the checklist in order to secure a long lasting singing career.
Proper hydration is a top priority for any singer. When you are dehydrated, your muscles shorten and become inflexible. Our vocal chords are a delicate set of muscles and when we sing we rely on stretching and flexing our vocal chords to create a healthy sound.
Boost Your Immune System
In a way, vocal fatigue is like a sickness or a muscle injury. Ideally, we should avoid tiring our voices at all costs. Every time you exhaust your voice beyond its comfort zone you are taking away from its life. In such a situation your body has to "heal" your vocal chords overnight. Pretty much everything that boosts your immune system helps your voice recover more efficiently. Immune boosters such as Immunex, L-Lysine, supplements such as Vitamin B complex and Zinc definitely make a difference over the course of a night.
Speed Up Your Metabolism
Most of the singers I encounter don't know how much internal energy it takes to sing and they depend on vocal energy and tension to compensate for the lack of body support. This is why many self-taught singers who can sing well are hyper people because hyper people have a lot of body energy. You need two things to maintain fast metabolism: a well balanced diet and regular exercise. When you have fast metabolism, daily activities get easier and you have more energy to live and to sing.
A good night's sleep is an essential part of maintaining one's voice. Only during a long night's sleep are your vocal chords truly passive. A regular 8 hour night of sleep and perhaps an extended period of 10-12 hours when you are sick or when you over use your vocal chords is critical for sufficient vocal rest.
Singers who take their voice seriously need to learn how to sing with a body oriented sound and with constant breath support. The remedies I have mentioned here only improve the efficiency of the recovery period. When I asked my first teacher, Mme. Nebol, what I could do to restore, recover, and recuperate my voice, she looked at me over her reading glasses and with her sailor mouthed Prima Donna attitude she said, "Guy, if you tell people sh*t is good for their voices, they'll eat it. You'll just have to learn not to beat your voice up!"
I work with many professional singers who experience difficulties and bad habits in their singing. If you sing professionally and if you need to learn how you can maintain a healthy singing voice I would be happy to have a consultation meeting with you.