Advice Blog Vocal Health

March Madness: Vocal Myth Edition

Two years ago, I wrote several articles about dispelling common vocal myths. I’ve been getting some of these questions a lot lately, so I figured it was time for a repost.

  1. Belting is bad for your voice.
  • Belting or low mixing healthfully is not bad for your voice. Screaming, on the other hand, is bad for your voice. Make sure to find a teacher who will guide you down the path of vocal technique.
  1. Dairy is bad for your voice.
  • Dairy may cause phlegm and irritate acid reflux – both are not ideal for the voice. But dairy itself has no negative effects on the vocal folds themselves.
  1. In order to sing, one must have breath support.
  • This is something that is a constant conversation in the singing community. I personally think that the term “breath support” is unhelpful. What are you “supporting”? I prefer the term “breath energy” instead. It allows the term to be a bit more broad and individually focused. *You do need airflow to sing.
  1. One must stay away from cold water before singing.
  • Hydration is important in general. Cold water can cause the muscles in the throat to contract if they are cold – ideally, when singing, we want the throat to be as relaxed as possible. Therefore, most people recommend drinking room temperature water.
  1. When you drink water on stage, it really helps you.
  • Drinking water can have a “reset” factor on the vocal folds. But H2O won’t actually reach the vocal cords themselves until the next day. Just another reason to try and stay as hydrated as possible.
  1. Cough drops help your voice.
  • They can! But avoid any cough drops containing menthol (unless you are trying to suppress a cough) – which will dry you out. I use hard candies and cough drops not containing menthol to keep my throat moist if water is unavailable. 
  1. Do not drink caffeine before singing.
  • Caffeine is just a naturally drying agent. A main component of coffee is actually water – this just continues with the hydration theme.
  1. Whispering is a good idea when you are on vocal rest.
  • If you have “lost your voice,” I recommend speaking in a higher voice if you have to speak at all. Whispering can sometimes put more strain on the voice because it is putting strain on muscles you normally don’t use in that way.
  1. Sing from your diaphragm.
  • Where is your diaphragm? Okay, now where are your vocal folds? Great, they aren’t even remotely close to each other. This is one of those “old school” techniques. Think of expanding and collapsing the lungs instead, where air actually accumulates.
  1. Vocal damage only comes from bad technique.
  • False. While, yes, sometimes it can come from bad technique, sometimes you may just be born with a pathology. Professional voice users do not have pristine vocal folds, even with tons of training and proper technique. Because you are using your voice constantly, it will take a hit. That’s why it’s important to have a “voice doctor” or otolaryngologist, even if your voice is healthy. That way, if anything were to happen, they have a record of your cords at their best and can solve any problem quickly.

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