Phew, it was cold out this morning when I fed the outside cats. Dry leaves everywhere and a crispness to the air that almost stings the lungs. As I watched my breath escape in a puff of smoke, I realized that the dry cold air not only affected my skin, (which is unbearably dry this time of year) but affects my voice as well. It made me wonder if my vocal cords were as chapped as my hands…
As a vocal coach, I frequently drive home the importance of water to keep the vocal cords moist. Most don’t realize that you should always have phlegm on the cords. It is our motor oil to keep friction at bay and not let our instrument overheat. When were dehydrated, we tend to spit up phlegm, a nasty, thick, yellow substance that makes us want to gag. In actuality, that is just our motor oil turned to sludge, much like engine oil overdue for an oil change. To turn that sludge back into pure, clean oil, we need tons of water. Once we’re re-hydrated, that once yellowish, thick oil returns to a thin, clear, watery state that maintains the vocal cords.
So, how do we maintain our oil consistency? By changing our oil frequently! The average singer needs to consume 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. If you weigh 200 pounds, you’ll need 100 ounces daily. So, sip up, throughout the day. If you want to stay super hydrated, go crazy, aim for a gallon a day. Not only will your voice thank you, so will your skin.
Still, there is many philosophies on the negative effects of water, such as drinking too much can be fatal, flushing out minerals, etc. Well, you’d have to drink much, much more than a gallon to cause a serious threat, so a gallon or under and you’re safe. As far as losing minerals, I see the reasoning, which is why I use X20 sachets from singerswater.com, to help put minerals back into my system. There are more ways to ‘mineralize’ your water, as discussed in my book, Raise Your Voice. Bottom line; drink up!
There are other ways to stay hydrated too, such as using a humidifier at night in your bedroom, and the old faithful “can of water” on the floor register when the heat was on, as my mother used to do when I was a child to help replenish the dry air. You can also breathe steam in the shower to re-hydrate the lungs and sinuses. Speaking of sinuses, they need to be well-oiled too. So, when your sinuses feel stuffed, stuffy, or sneezy, turn to the neti pot. The Neilmed Sinus Flush neti pot looks like a small, blue Genie’s lamp. I actually gave one to Dr. Oz when I shattered glass in his show. Dr. Oz smiled and said to me, “You brush your teeth every day, don’t you? Then why wouldn’t you flush your sinuses as well?” His questions were more statements. we do need to keep the sinuses clean and clear and well oiled.
So, in ending, drink up, steam, and flush those sinuses to protect the cords, lungs, and sinuses passages during this dry season! It will assure your voice is always there when you need it.