Pee Clear, Sing Clear!

The #1 Way to Protect Your Voice

My husband HATES it when it is his turn to do the dishes because inevitably there are large cups or water bottles that I don’t want to go into the dishwasher.  “HOW MANY OF THESE DO YOU REALLY NEED?” Honestly, I do have a problem, but in my defense, hydrating is the most important thing that I do for my voice daily.

We all have heard that we should drink eight, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. Sounds easy right? Maybe for a normal person who doesn’t necessarily rely on their voice as much as a singer does, but we need to do a little more.

WHY IS HYDRATION SO IMPORTANT TO SINGERS?

The 64 ounces that is recommended for all people is to make sure that your organs are well hydrated and are functioning properly on a daily basis. The body naturally values the primary organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys…you get my point. After those are cared for, THEN your body will hydrate the secondary organs like the vocals folds, so our “money maker” is last in line! 

Add to that all of the extra things that will work to DEHYDRATE your voice like exercise, caffeine, alcohol, dry air, heating or air conditioning, medications, and you will find yourself drinking water as your main job! Why? Because your vocal folds endure a lot of friction when you speak or sing, they need to be protected. Your body does that by keeping them supple and elastic through hydration, AND making sure that there is a nice, thin coat of mucus spread evenly over the vocal folds. The water you are drinking will help to keep that mucus thin. Thick mucus drops onto your vocal folds in large, hard to move globs. When my students try to sing with thick mucus, they hear and feel the rattle and it gets in the way of the air flow.

This makes them feel like they need to cough or clear their throats by slamming their vocal folds together. After your vocal folds take a second to recover from the physical assault, your body then drops MORE mucus almost saying “TAKE THAT YOU BARBARIAN!” Then it becomes a vicious cycle of assault and battery. STOP THE CYCLE! Drink some water!

WHEN SHOULD I HYDRATE?

Frankly, the earlier in the day you start, the better and easier it will be on you. Keep a cup by your bed! Drink first thing in the morning and last thing before you go to sleep. Also, keep in mind that what you drank yesterday and the day before are what is hydrating your voice today. Drinking a gallon of water before a performance is just going to make you need to pee and will be great for your body tomorrow, but won’t hydrate your vocal folds in a pinch.

ICE ICE BABY!

Ha ha! Now you have that little ear worm to carry with you through the day! But seriously, let’s talk about temperature. It is best for you to drink your water at room temperature or slightly cooled. Extreme heat or cold will interfere with your body’s natural muscle function. Does that mean no hot tea!? No! Just know that it might soothe and relax you, but let it cool a little bit and let the majority of your intake of fluids be room temperature if you can manage it. 

GOT MILK?

You will constantly hear that milk is bad for your singing voice. Let me clear something up. Milk (and some other foods on the singer “no-no” list) aren’t BAD for your voice. BUT, they do thicken mucus, and we already talked about what happens when mucus is thick. Coffee dehydrates, but I drink coffee for everyone else’s safety! I also add 8 oz of water for every 8 oz of coffee I drink. Do that to help counter the milk, but maybe lay off before a concert.

BUT I’M DRY NOW! WHAT DO I DO?

Cue the choir of angels! There IS something you can do if you are feeling dry! It is actually really good for you and can (and should for serious singers) be done on a regular basis. STEAMING! It is the only way to hydrate your vocal folds externally! Id doesn’t replace good ole’ H2O, but it has wonderful benefits. Some people find that the steam from a shower helps. Others can’t handle the heat of the shower and the time suck waiting for the fog to clear so they can start getting ready. For those people, I bring you the Steam Inhaler. There are a bunch of different kinds at a number of price points with lots of different features, but the main point is that you can inhale the steam to help keep your vocal folds hydrated. I have another article here that reviews four different brands of steam inhalers. 

WRITE IT DOWN…

  1. The 64 ounces a day is just for normal activity.
  2. People who care about their voices work to make sure their vocal folds get the hydration it deserves.
  3. PLAN for how much water you need to counterbalance the activities in your life.
  4. Hydrate externally with a steam inhaler, and last but not least remember…
  5. Pee Clear, Sing Clear! 

For more information about how to hydrate your vocal folds externally by using a face steamer, click here for the BLOG link and YouTube Video.