It’s a good idea to figure out what your daily vocal care checklist should be based on what you need to do to nurture your voice, as well as what you have time to do each day to look after your vocal health and wellbeing, plus to prevent any vocal issues.
(UPDATED 27th June 2018)
As with anything it does take a bit of time, and I’m winning if I do this 80% of the time. Start with what you can and build your own daily vocal care checklist that supports you!
My Daily Vocal Care Checklist
1. Exercise & Stretch
Every morning I try to walk for 15-25 mins. I walk my daughter to the bus stop & sneak exercise in that way.
Stretching my body from head to toe when I get out of bed is my must do & I also try to stretch throughout the day. I call them my Singers Stretches. You can watch me demonstrate in the video below. Give them a go!
Time allocation – 30 mins
2. Nasal Irrigation
Nasal Irrigation is a brilliant natural solution if you suffer from sinus issues, allergies or like to be clean & clear in that department as a lot of dust & junk inevitably ends up there. Gross but true!
It works by gently squirting warm saline solution up each nostril to cleanse your nasal passages. I use a plastic bottle by NeilMed which gives you 240mls to use, 120mls per nostril. However, you can start with less, perhaps 60mls each.
3. Salt gargle
I gargle with saline solution from my irrigation prep. I always make more than needed, so I have some leftover. The irrigation uses 240 mls, so I make 300mls & am good to go. I try gargle for 30 secs or more.
Time allocation – 5 mins (takes about 3 minutes to set up/clean up & a few seconds to do)
I use a natural massage oil (coconut) on my throat & neck to give myself a massage to help release any tension. I also do a bit of a facial massage plus mouth and tongue stretches while I am steaming as I hold a tonne of stress in my jaw, neck & shoulders.
Time allocation – 5 mins
Along with drinking water regularly, another way to hydrate is topically & you can do this by steaming. The back story to what I use is in the video below.
You can use a bowl of hot water with a towel over your head or even hold a hot cup of water in front of your face. Also being in the shower with steam is good at a pinch.
Time allocation – 15 mins (steam for 10 & set up/pack up is about 5 mins)
6. Vocal Wake Up
While I am steaming, I will do Sirens to wake my voice up. A Siren is a stretch for your vocal folds as well as a chance for you to check in with your voice & assess how it is feeling and what other care techniques you may need to do if it isn’t 100%. You can siren throughout the day quietly, even silently to keep your voice limber.
Time allocation – Zero as you are sharing it with steam time!
7. Immune Boost
Omega 3 Fish Oil/Manuka honey/Vitamin C – You can take a teaspoon of Manuka honey (UMF 5+) direct in your mouth. I like to take 1000mg of Vitamin C & Omega 3 Fish Oil tabs daily.
These three things are all preventive & help to keep my immune system & oral health in good shape.
Time allocation – 1 min
8. Liquorice tea
I am starting to notice the drying effects coffee has on my voice let alone messing with my adrenals.
I work late so tend to have one in the morning around 5 am when I get up & then another at 8pmish to pick me up for a bit of an evening work sesh, but then I can’t wind down easily to sleep. Enter tea! I do like lemon & ginger tea (either tea bags or you can make it yourself by steeping grated ginger & lemon in hot water for a few minutes) but am happiest with liquorice tea. I can drink as many cups as I want to & at any time of the day! Hooray!
Time allocation – 4 mins
I start sculling water as soon as I have had my tea & I keep doing that throughout the day. If I’m feeling dry, I know the hydration process is going to take an hour or so & I can’t get dehydrated as a singer!
Lastly, this new little through the day trick I found while struggling with a dry mouth/throat while I was battling a head cold recently. I knew I was hydrated but felt orally dry, so I read an article outlining some things that top vocal coach in the U.S. Cari Cole suggests to her clients if they are unwell.
I learned that Glycerine could be useful in moisturising your mouth & throat by ‘coating’ it essentially.
Glycerine swabs which are a hospital grade thing (you can get all of this at a good pharmacy), are what I have tried. I guess they use it for patients who are a bit dry-mouthed post surgery & possibly can’t take in copious amounts of liquid orally but may be on a drip?
I also found some fantastic glycerine sugar free pastilles made by Grethers. These I use if I am feeling a bit of a dry mouth to help things along!
So all up, usually before 9 am I try to spend about 55-60 mins on my daily vocal care, although some months are better than others! It does seem a bit much at a glance, but I am a professional singer, I only make money from singing so if I am not well enough or vocally compromised & can’t sing, that means no moola! Hopefully, that puts it into perspective!
What do you think of my routine? Could you or do you spend a similar amount of time on your care regime?
I’d love you to share your vocal care rituals or routines & I know there are heaps of other vocal remedies, herbs and teas out there so let me know about it!