ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly publication for choral conductors and teachers at all levels. It is published online, and each issue contains four practical articles. If you are not already a member of ACDA, you can join and receive access to ChorTeach online. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Tony Thornton appearing in the Spring 2019 issue.
As conductors and singers, we work very hard over a period of weeks to prepare for performance. Concert week may include additional rehearsals and certainly a dress rehearsal. This added stress can cause the immune system to weaken, making the body susceptible to illness. It would be a pity to become ill right before the concert. Below are twenty tips to help conductors and singers maintain excellent vocal health throughout the year.
• Strive for good general physical and mental health at all times through exercise, meditation, and proper diet.
• Get plenty of rest. If the body is tired, the voice is tired.
• Along with proper diet, a daily multivitamin, extra Vitamin C, or zinc may help you stay healthy. However, always consult with a physician before adding new supplements.
• Always warm up the voice before teaching or singing.
• Speak, conduct, and sing with proper alignment, which will allow breath to move more efficiently in and out of the body.
• Avoid loud talking, screaming, and wheezing or stressed laughter.
• Avoid speaking in loud environments.
• Those who must use their voices for an extended period of time each day, especially educators, should try to develop as many nonverbal ways of communicating as possible. In short, speak less and demonstrate your ideas more. Many resources and tips are available online.
• Constant throat clearing irritates the vocal cords. Swallow or take a sip of water in lieu of clearing the throat.
• Speak in a comfortable pitch range. Do not speak too high or too low, as this will cause wear and tear on the voice. If you find that your voice becomes tired, scratchy, or irritated easily from speaking, consult an ENT immediately.
• Maintain hydration by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. Remember, the vocal cords are one of the last organs to receive the benefits of water. Drinks made with water such as tea or coffee do not count toward the daily recommended amount.
• Diuretics such as caffeine, alcohol, and artificially flavored beverages remove moisture from the body and therefore the voice. Avoid them as much as possible, especially before a concert.
• Medications such as antihistamines, allergy pills, and birth control pills may cause dryness in the throat. An increased intake of water will be necessary if such medications are prescribed for you.
Read more in the Spring 2019 issue at acda.org/chorteach.