Bonnie Pomfret

Soprano, Master Teacher, Clinician

Voice Care

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Care of the Voice

Think like an “vocal athlete”

Good voice care and good vocal technique are the “insurance policy” on your voice!

I.  General health - technique - conditioning

Eat a healthy diet of fresh foods.

Get a little exercise every day.

Get a good night's sleep (you should awaken feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day).

Practice every day, to condition the voice.  Increase practice time GRADUALLY.

If you are a singer, try to speak with the same good technique with which you sing.

II.  The Mucous Blanket

A. The body secretes 1 liter of clear watery mucus daily, when healthy

-Thick mucus is a symptom of insufficient water or poor technique

B.  The Importance of water   - hydration

Drink 8 glasses of water per day (“sing wet - pee pale”)

Caffeine, alcohol, medications can dry you out

C.  Humidity:  the water vapor in the air - Ideal humidity is 40 - 50%

Low humidity dries the mucous blanket

Use of a vaporizer overnight helps – keep it very clean

D. Instant Help for the mucus membrane - irrigation  or lavage

Irrigation of the nose  -  duplicates body salinity and PH

Commercial preparations (sprays) - e.g. Ocean, NaSal, etc. okay but costly

Prepare fresh daily:  1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 c. lukewarm water

Gargle to test: does it taste like tears?

a.  Use prepared saline solution with ear syringe in each nostril OR

b.  Pour saline into hands and sniff 3 times per nostril OR

c.  Use Neti-pot sold in health food stores OR

d.  “inhale” water from a cup or glass

Steam:  Breathing steam is an easy way to hydrate dry mucus membranes

Fill a sink with hot water, make a tent over your head with a towel, and breathe the steam for a few minutes.

Expectorants: Robitussin or Mucinex (guaifenesin) thin the mucus

MINIMIZE USE OF DECONGESTANTS (i.e. Sudafed) and  ANTI-HISTAMINES. Both are DRYING and affect vocal fold movement.

E.  Irritants to avoid

1.  Smoke: causes cancer and changes to the nervous system and mucous membrane

2.  Caffeine – drying

3.  Alcohol – inhibits movement and drying

4.  Allergies: many are food-related (Wheat, soy, dairy, shellfish, peanuts)

Dairy products and lecithin (a soy-based texturizer) can increase mucus In some people (not everyone).  Food sensitivities can cause reflux.

5.  Airborn allergies (“hay fever”) will probably require medication.

F.  Medications:  a few cautions

1.  Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen (all NSAID’s).increase risk of hemorrhage in the vocal fold.  This results in sudden hoarseness, which may last for months.


2.  If you notice a change in the voice after starting any medication, from an anti-depressant to a blood pressure medication, ask your doctor.

III.  Voice Use and Misuse

Sing and speak in an easy range.

Use amplification if you must project and it causes fatigue.

Do not sing the wrong vocal part to help out your chorus director.





Voice Conservation

1.  Eliminate shouting, screaming, and extended loud talking (i.e. sporting events and noisy bars)


2.  Don’t compete with noisy traffic, loud parties, stereos, or television


3.  When traveling, try not to engage in long conversations in trains, planes, or cars.  Maintain good posture and don’t twist the neck or head.


4.  Be aware of everyday stresses that can cause tension in the vocal mechanism.


5.  Avoid unhealthy environments such as smoky rooms, dust, and fumes.


6.  Avoid excessive throat clearing and coughing.


7.  When talking on the telephone, maintain good posture and don’t slouch or cradle receiver on your shoulder.  Speak in a comfortable conversational level, not too softly.  Avoid using cell phones in noisy surroundings (see 2. above)


8.  Drink plenty of water.  The vocal folds require a good level of fluid in the body.


9.  Sing the right vocal part.  Avoid singing out of your vocal range.  Listen to your body!


10.  Singers – keep your voice in shape between events.



Maintenance of Healthy Speech

1.  “Warm up” your voice first thing in the morning.  Take deep breaths, do tongue stretches and gentle “mum-mum-mum’s” in the shower where the steamy, moist air can help open the throat and sinuses.


2.  Practice a few minutes at a time - several times a day.


3.  Pick one aspect of vocal technique to focus on for one hour, several hours, or all day:

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