Wait to Hydrate"
to properly water the voice)
car comes with an owners manual which instructs you to pull
over immediately if the oil light on the dash illuminates.
A better idea, if youre in the habit of waiting until the
trouble light comes on before taking care of your engine, would
be to put a "for sale" sign on the vehicle. Allowing
a car to run without enough lubrication is a sure recipe for trouble
down the road. The same is true for singers who dont keep
themselves hydrated. Without adequate protection, the activity
of singing causes the membranes in the larynx to swell. The problem
is friction. The body has a natural solution, however, if we would
only follow the owners manual for our bodies.
yourself hydrated is an all-day affair. Often, we wait until
were thirsty to reach for a drink. This is too late for
singers -- especially once youre on stage. It takes at
least twenty minutes, on an empty stomach, for water to cycle
around your system and show up at the membranes where its
needed. Other beverages take longer because they must be digested.
This means drinks on stage dont take effect until after
the set. So why does it feel like a quick swig of something
between songs offers immediate relief? Two reasons: The first
is that there are receptors in the throat which signal the brain
that fluids are on the way. The second is the physical action
to belief, nothing we swallow touches the vocal folds. All of
the potions singers consume in an effort to wet their whistle
are channeled away from the larynx by the epiglottis and sent
down the esophagus. Its just as well. Like the eye, the
larynx should be awash in saline, not tea or honey. Even if
your drink seeps down to the vocal folds, the air stream created
to sing promptly blow-dries the area. If you are driving your
voice hard, or are nervous, the muscles in the throat tighten.
The tension closes the saliva ducts designated for the larynx.
Like blinking, swallowing changes the muscles position
for a second and allows the ducts to open and relubricate --
thats if you are hydrated in the first place.
of your body weight is water. It would make sense, then, to
replace whats lost with the same. A general rule is to
consume 1Ú2 an ounce of water for every pound of body
weight per day. The water you eat counts, so if youre
not fond of drinking the stuff, load up on high-water content
foods like raw fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, beer, coffee
and sodas dont count. Even though each contains mostly
water, their ingredients trigger the body to flush itself, leaving
you with less water than before. Certain foods will also drain
your internal water supply. Since digestion is the number one
priority of the body, when we fill up on low-water foods like
breads, crackers, chips, cheese and prepared meats and potatoes,
the throat and larynx are robbed of hydration to make up the
deficit. Basically, if you have to have something to drink with
a meal, the foods you are eating are too concentrated. A good
routine would be to hydrate well before a meal so you wont
feel the need to dilute your digestive process. I know this
goes against the ever-so-common practice of eating and drinking
at the same time, but that tradition was not put in place so
we would sing better.
hydrate well before a game so their muscles dont cramp;
singers should do the same. Maintaining a lubricated larynx
means youll be able to swallow during a song without sucking
on a water bottle. Remember, rehearsals are no easier on your
instrument than gigs, so get into the habit of staying hydrated.
If your budget is tight, theres nothing wrong with tap
water. Its a good idea to filter it, though, to remove
the chlorine. Its best to drink water at room temperature
to avoid tensing throat muscles. No matter what style music
you sing, you will notice a significant improvement in your
vocal longevity once you get yourself up to specs. A good measure
of a proper water level is clear urine. Since there is no light
on our bodies to warn us when were running low, let the
following statement be your mantra, "Dont wait --
Baxter is a vocal therapist
who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call:
(800)659-6002. Visit his website at: www.voicelesson.com
with the kind permission of Mark