Typically recognized as an occupational hazard that goes with the territory, singers often report experiencing hoarseness, laryngitis and even damaged and strained vocal chords. These performers are not alone. All the more reason to take care of your voice, something ENT physicians and allied health professionals often warn about. With this in mind, World Voice Day, observed April 16, was created to raise awareness about vocal health. But as you know, there is always more to the story.
Since 2002, World Voice Day, which originated in Brazil, has grown to become an annual global effort and a major step toward good health everywhere. A read-through on world-voice-day.org indicates, “The mission of the group is to share the excitement of voice science, pedagogy and the vocal arts…by organizing a global celebration of the World Voice Day…”
WVD 2019 events are scheduled around the world, including a free concert and reception at 7pm hosted by The Voice Foundation and The Philadelphia Girls Choir, with conductor Laura Harmon, tenor Michael Ashby, sopranos Maria Jabbour, Maria Russo, Lisa Wilson and baritone Daniel Pantano. Meanwhile, everyone can mark the occasion by using #WorldVoiceDay with related content on social media.
Vocal communication is common yet uniquely distinct. When air passes through the larynx, the resulting sound is characteristically different in each person. So, what is the best way to maintain a fit voice? Leading Hudson Valley Laryngologist-Voice and Swallowing Specialist, Dr. Joseph DiPietro, suggests seeing a physician who specializes in these areas if:
- You have noticed a quality change in the voice such as raspiness, roughness or pitch changes.
- Your throat often feels raw, achy, or strained
- Talking requires more effort.
- You repeatedly find yourself clearing your throat.
- Others regularly ask “What’s wrong with your voice?”
- You find that you have lost your ability to hit some high notes when singing.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation has advice for keeping a healthy voice:
- Drink plenty of water. Hydration helps to lubricate your vocal cords.
- Try not to scream or yell. These practices put great strain on the lining of your vocal cords.
- Warm up your voice before heavy use. Exercises can be simple, such as gently gliding from low to high tones on different vowel sounds, doing lip trills (like the motorboat sound that kids make), or tongue trills.
- Don’t smoke. In addition to being a potent risk factor for laryngeal (voice box) cancer, smoking also causes inflammation and polyps of the vocal cords.
- Use good breath support. Breath flow is the power for voice. Take time to fill your lungs before starting to talk, and don’t wait until you are almost out of air before taking another breath to power your voice.
- Listen to your voice. When your voice is complaining to you, listen to it. Know that you need to modify and decrease your voice use if you become hoarse in order to allow your vocal cords to recover.
For more information please visit world-voice-day.org, The Voice Foundation and The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.