Don't Let Your Voice Dry Out

Every singer has experienced this: you keep drinking water, and yet your throat feels constantly dry. Low humidity levels in your environment can cause this.

Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. This can have a great effect on your voice.

Dry air is hard on the vocal cords – every breath you take is filled with moisture-starved air, which can dry the mucosal tissue.

Dry throat is so prevalent that singers have names for it in some areas, such as “Vegas Throat.”


Sleep Time

Sleeping in a dry room is particularly hard on the voice. How many of us wake up parched and croaky, maybe even with a sore throat?

When sleeping, we spend several hours breathing through our mouths and not drinking water.

In winter, you already have dry winter air that has been further cooked in your heater, and now you have a real problem with your vocal cords.

What To Do

In most cases, jumping in a hot shower will give some instant relief from a dry voice box but won't give everlasting comfort through the day, and especially throughout the night.

There are two items I recommend to monitor and combat external elements. The first is called a hygrometer. This is basically a humidity sensor device that can give you a reading of the levels of humidity inside a particular room. Ideal humidity is around 50%. Below 45% becomes a problem.

You can find hygrometers at Amazon.com. If you find humidity is less than ideal, you should use a personal humidifier. These come as either a cool mist humidifier (ultrasonic humidifiers) or warm mist humidifier, and both will work fine. You can run it in your practice room and sleeping area to get humidity back to 50%. Any higher than 55% is not a good idea as mould and other issues can occur.

Make sure you keep your humidifier clean as you don't want it to send bacteria into the air - you want to breathe a germ-free mist. Using distilled water instead of tap water will help to prevent mineral buildup. This buildup of white chalk-like film can clog your device and can encourage mould buildup. If your humidifier has an unpleasant smell, it could indicate you have buildup, and it is due for a cleaning.

Once you have set the water level, start running the humidifier an hour or two before bedtime. This will help create an ideal environment for sleeping.

With the two basic types of humidifiers for singers (warm or cool mist), there are some differences you will want to consider.

The cool mist option is more efficient but can be noisier and less comfortable during cold winter nights. Warm humidifiers use more electricity due to boiling the water and can be harder to clean because of mineral deposits. Still, the mist is more comfortable in a cold room and is cleaner due to the boiling process. In addition, warm mist humidifiers work better in smaller rooms as they put less moisture into the air than a cool mist.

Depending on the model you choose, they may have options like sleep mode, LED lights, rechargeable battery, speed settings, and remote control. Some can have near-silent operation, automatic shut off and precise mist control.  Keep in mind the cost of maintenance with each model, and with more bells and whistles, there can be additional costs, so spend some extra time researching to find the perfect choice within your budget for maintaining a hydrated voice.

I also recommend a travel-size portable humidifier when on tour. If you are not used to desert or high altitude climates, you can be in for a shock as to how dry these climates can get and the lack of humidity they can have. These portable options (cordless humidifier) are a common go-to option for the professional singer on the road.

Choosing a humidifier for singers will also depend on if the singer wants to humidify an entire house.  If this is the case, a whole-house humidifier or larger models with extra water tank capacity may be required. But if you only want to add moisture to a small area, you will want to look at single-room humidifiers; think about the natural environment and the level of humidity you would like to maintain, as that will help narrow down your choices.

With all the modern design and ultrasonic technology these days, you will surely be able to find the perfect humidifier with awesome features for your own customized humidity.

Nebulizer

This is definitely one of the most effective tools I have found lately. Many of my high-profile clients have been taking a nebulizer on tour to keep their vocal folds moist and healthy.

What is this nebulizer? It is like a handheld humidifier or steam inhaler device, but works differently as it turns liquids into a very fine breathable mist. A mesh nebulizer has a mesh with thousands of laser-drilled holes that the liquid is pushed through, turning it into tiny, breathable droplets.

The key is to put the sterilized saline solution into the nebulizer and breathe the mist. This puts moisture directly onto your vocal cords.

Researchers found the saline solution to be much more effective in staying on the vocal cords than just water, so choosing a nebulizer may be an excellent choice for maximum relief in dry climates and when your music career is particularly demanding.

Get Your Drink On

A humidifier or nebulizer is in no way a replacement for drinking enough water. Proper hydration of the cords is essential. You want enough moisture in your body as well as your environment.

You need to keep in mind that any liquid you drink does not touch your vocal cords; in fact, if it does, you will start coughing as it went down the wrong way!

The rule of thumb most Ear, Nose and Throat Doctors will tell you is to drink enough so that your urine is clear. This will properly hydrate you at the cellular level. A good habit is always to have a handy bottle of water close by and be sipping throughout the day.

Remember – hydrated vocal cords are happy vocal cords, and result in a happy singing voice.