Vocal Health

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For many school-aged singers, the choral director is the only significant source of professional instruction and advice they willever receive about their voice. The choral director is their first line of defense for vocal health. A conductor's skill at diagnosis of vocal faults must be matched by a willingness to refer students to the proper health care professional. This is a copy of a handout presented to students in choral conducting and vocal pedagogy classes at Radford University. In addition to the sources cited in the bibliography, and my own experience, this material is drawn from the work of Van Lawrence, M. D., Otolaryngology and Paul Brandvik.

1. Try your best to maintain good general health. Avoid viral colds (a regimen of washing hands hasbeen shown to reduce the transmission of cold viruses). Some advocate vitamin C and zinc lozenges, while I find these effective I would recommend their use these only after the student has consulted a physician.

2. Emotional and physical stress both contribute significantly to vocal distress. Exercise regularly. Using your major muscle groups in jogging,etc. is an excellent way to diminish stress. NOTE: extensive power weight lifting will place some wear on the vocal folds, this should be avoided during times of extended vocal use or vocal fatigue.

3. Eat a balanced diet. At times of extended vocal use avoid large amounts of salt and refined sugar, spicy food such as Mexican, Szechuan Chinese, as well as excessive amounts of food and/or alcohol. One may note hoarseness in the larynx or dryness of the throat after drinking significant amounts of alcohol, caffienated, as well naturally or artificially sweetened beverages. The body needs water to metabolize these foods and beverages, excessive consumption of these items will reduce the amount of water available to hydrate the voice.

4. Maintain body hydration (7-9 glasses of water a day) and avoid known dietary diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol....
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