General Vocal Fitness
Your voice is muscle tissue. It responds the same way your other muscles do – the more you work them, the bigger and stronger they get. Vocally this translates to improved stamina, greater expression, wider range and more ability to modulate your voice in an engaging way.
In the singing community, this is a hot topic, however seems to be less so in environments where people speak for a living. If you’re on the stage, or an actor, then this is more obvious, however classroom teachers, people in customer service and people working on the telephone are also professional voice users, often without realising.
The greatest risk to your vocal health in this situation is strain. If you find yourself clearing your throat, or having a niggling cough on a regular basis, or even losing your voice from time to time, this is not normal, and can be addressed by increasing your vocal fitness.
Vocal fitness is developed through appropriate vocal exercises.
A variety of vocalisations, singing exercises, breathing exercises and vocal function exercises such as a speech therapist would use, all benefit the professional voice user. Improving fitness and the function of your voice means you will be able to ‘speak up’ more clearly with ease, and for greater lengths of time.
Areas to consider when exercising are
• working on the breath
• releasing tension
• chord closure (how breathy the voice is)
• length and strength of the vocal chord itself.
Here is a free breathing exercise you can use, and here is a free vocal exercise to develop length and strength of the vocal chord.
Building up a routine of exercise of 5-15mins three times a week will greatly improve your performance, and improve your recovery time when you become ill. If you are very busy, with speaking engagements, you may need to consider increasing that to 15-20mins five times a week.
General Voice Care
In addition to exercising regularly, you can look after your voice by
• Being mindful of areas of soreness
• Maintaining a good level of hydration – remember at the point you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated
• Using natural remedies to ward of coughs and colds, like herbal teas and increased vitamin C intake
• Having a regular steam – use the Turkish bath at the gym if you have one, or try to have a steamy shower or head steam on a semi regular basis.