Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to improve the health of your singing voice!
When we sing we are using an amazing human instrument capable of expressing all of life's joy and pain through our voices. The best singing is truly an athletic activity for the Larynx (Adam's Apple) and Vocal Cords.
Your vocal cords need to be well-hydrated to function properly, especially for the demands of professional singing. De-Hydration makes singing hard because the vocal tissues aren't as free to vibrate and adjust for pitch.
Did you know that when you drink water it doesn't touch your vocal cords?
Most people think they can take a quick drink before singing but the truth is that your voice get it's hydration from the water you drink only through absorption. Your vital organs get the water first and then it will reach your vocal cords when you are hydrated enough.
There are two path ways in our throat, one for breathing and one for swallowing food and drink. If you've ever drank "down the wrong way" and had to cough, it's from liquid touching your vocal cords making you cough to keep it from going into your lungs.
We've all heard the myth that drinking tea is great for singing, but the fact is that it only reaches your throat and doesn't improve the quality of your vocal cords. Studies have shown that hydration should begin up to 48 hours before professional voice use. The vital organs get priority in our bodies for hydration so if you're not drinking enough water it may not reach your vocal cords!
Hydrating from the outside
You can also hydrate externally by breathing steam which will hydrate the vocal cords directly. My favorite way to steam is by using a tea kettle (stand at least a foot away to avoid burning yourself!) You can also use a personal steam inhaler, both CVS and Walgreens sell them. (Be sure to clean them before each use.) Taking a hot shower is another way to steam.
Steam is also the only non-medical way to reduce swelling of the vocal cords. Swelling of the vocal cords is caused by a variety of reasons; colds, allergies, clearing the throat, coughing, sneezing, over use, bad vocal technique, whispering, yelling and smoking can all cause the the vocal tissue to become red and swollen. If you've ever "lost your voice" or have been hoarse this is from severe swelling. Singing with swollen vocal cords is like trying to play basketball with a twisted angle, it ain't easy!
Keeping your vocal cords happy and hydrated
Also be aware that caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which cause you to lose hydration. Drink a glass of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated. If you take medications for allergies they can also have a drying effect on the vocal cords. For allergies consider an all natural nasal rinse, my favorite is Alkolol.
So what are you waiting for? Get to chuggin' that water, your voice with thank you!
*Feel free to comment, ask questions and share. I'm also planning a Q&A blog and educational videos to answer your questions so don't hesitate to send them in!
For information about my teaching or to schedule a voice lesson call (510) 866-3046 or email me from the Contacts Page. I offer singing lessons at my Oakland, CA. studio and also Online using your computer and a Webcam.