The one sure, science-backed way to care for your singing voice is to stay hydrated. It may not cure any pre-existing conditions, but drinking sufficient amounts of water will help prevent most common voice issues. Most of the problems we experience are caused by life choices and daily habits we take for granted, like smoking, and drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks.To understand why staying hydrated is important for proper voice care, it may be necessary to look at the science behind your voice.
We owe our natural voices to the proper functioning of an organ called the larynx. The larynx sits between the base of the tongue and the top of the trachea (windpipe).
It features two bands of smooth muscle tissue called vocal folds, which sit opposite each other on the trachea. When we are not speaking or singing, the vocal folds stay closed so we can breathe. For us to speak, the brain has to send a message for the vocal folds to snap shut.
But the air being pumped from our lungs forces its way through the vocal folds, causing them to vibrate.
These vibrations produce sound waves that resonate in our throats, mouth, and nose. And because our vocal folds are shaped and sized differently, the sounds, including the tone, pitch, and volume they produce differ markedly from one person to the next.
More Than Just Quenching a Thirst
Any part within our body, just like anything mechanical that moves about, has to stay lubricated. If not, the friction will cause it to wear and take strain. This is what happens with our vocal folds. Friction caused by dryness will cause them to swell and not vibrate as freely.
Needless to say, when your throat isdry, the sound produced will not sound as it normally does. The mucous membrane that lines your vocal folds needs constant lubrication, something you can only get from the water you drink. We know taking regular sips of water is a healthy habit, but it has added importance if you are a singer.
The mere act of drinking water does not immediately hydrate your vocal chords. The water has to be absorbed by the body first before the effect can be felt on the larynx. This process takes between 20 and 30 minutes. It clearly isn’t the same as quenching a thirst.
How Much Water is Enough?
Health practitioners advise between six and eight glasses of water a day. Although this works for most people, it may be wiser to consider your own lifestyle and the conditions you work under. Singers often drink more water.
And looking at it closely, it's not possible to care for your voice without staying hydrated. If staying hydrated means drinking lots of water, then you should pay attention to your own body and drink as much as you feel you need to.
About the Author: Julie Adams
I am a mom, a music lover and teacher from Tampa, FL. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Performance Arts, I traveled for several years before returning home where I started offering private piano and singing lessons as extra income. I met my husband in 2009 and 2 years later moved to Dallas where we settled down and I started focusing on vocal training to aspiring singers and performance artists of all age groups. I still enjoy playing the piano very much, and in my spare time you will catch doing some horse riding, drawing, doing some light reading, or just spending quality time with my family.