No, not the “brush your teeth” kind of hygiene, more the “how to look after your voice hygiene”.
At my recent visit to the speech pathologist in an attempt to restore my vocal function (read more about it in this post) the specialist took a history of my vocal use. It seems that I have quite a heavy vocal load. In my daily life, with children and work, I use my spoken voice frequently. In this time, I have also become aware of how much I sing when I teach and generally throughout the day.
So, some tips I have been given to use as a part of my daily life are:
- Before you speak take a quiet breath, then speak. No short gasps or noisy breathing.
- Talk at conversational volume. No trying to talk to someone in another room of the house.
- Talk less and more slowly.
- Demonstrate more on the piano rather than reverting to singing a melody etc.
- Vocal warm ups before teaching – run through some trills or lip buzzing.
- Drink a small glass of water for every student you teach. Staying hydrated is important! I now keep a jug of water on the table next to my piano and this is working well.
It seems that these things have started to help my voice. I now have my entire range back. It’s not perfect yet, but well on the way.
Another part of this issue, is resting when you are unwell. As a self-employed person, I generally ‘push through’ rather than have a day off. But in this instance, it has cost me a great deal more in specialist fees and pain than the lost income would of if I had of had a couple of days off. Stress also plays a role in my tight neck and throat muscles, so lowering stress levels is a very important part of this recovery. Perhaps I need to implement a “sick day” policy for myself!
It’s not back to 100% yet, but I’m working on it. I have a follow up appointment with the Speech Pathologist this week and am very excited next week to be seeing a specialist Vocal Coach who is in my home town for the weekend for a conference.