Yes, even the late, great Michael Jackson took singing lessons from a voice coach, and his name was Seth Riggs. Michael Jackson, though talented, was known for making sure to always properly warm-up and train his voice before he performed, much like many famous singers you know. Their voices don’t just “happen.” The most famous singers out there realize the importance of vocal health.
But, what is vocal health, really?
The Riggs’ Vocal Studio is well-renowned as “Singing for the Stars” where you would be introduced to what is called ‘Speech-Level Singing.’ Basically, it’s a way to keep the voice healthy and warmed up consistently not only for singing but for anyone who uses their voice frequently, so they don’t ever have to strain or hurt their voice. If you want to get serious about singing, vocal health should be a priority for you.
Anyone who uses their voice a lot should practice proper vocal health, not even just singers, but this reaches even public speakers, teachers, and TV hosts, who also practice keeping their voice healthy. This is so that the voice continues to be in good shape, and you have fewer bouts of losing your voice, straining your voice, or worse, damaging your vocal cords.
When the Voice Becomes Problematic
Usually, you can tell when your voice is having problems. If the pitch or tone of the voice draws more attention then what the singer is singing about, that’s a sure-fire sign that you’re having issues with your voice health. One of the best ways to address keeping your voice healthy as a singer is knowing when to identify that it’s NOT at its best.
Here are a few causes of vocal issues:
Built-up mucus in the throat due to sickness or cold
Dry air and no lubrication in the vocal folds
Overuse or misuse of the voice – this could be due to too much use or doing things like screaming, cheering loudly, or repeated throat clearing/coughing.
Acid reflux build-up
Swollen or stiff vocal cords
Vocal Health Solutions
You should know that there are many ways to treat vocal issues, and if you are very concerned about your voice you should always seek the advice of a doctor. Some of the best ways to help with keeping the voice health are outlined below:
One of the best ways to make sure you are practicing healthy vocal technique is simply by taking singing lessons. If you are serious about singing in any way, you need to be studying with a voice coach. For example, if you’re an aspiring Broadway actor living in the Big Apple, you can take private NYC-based singing classes to learn proper vocal health and master singing techniques rooted in how to stay healthy as a singer.
Seth Riggs stresses that one way to do this is through his method of Speech Level Singing, which is an absolute refusal to reach for any pitch. The larynx needs to stay on the general level of where you speak, that way you are never straining your voice. This is a really great technique for those who feel that they need to always be reaching out of their range. It is much more beneficial as a singer to stay within your healthy, comfortable voice range.
It sounds simple enough, but it is very important to your voice that you keep the vocal folds lubricated. Cold water, warm water, that part doesn’t matter. The hydration is what is important. You will strain your voice if you continue to sing without proper lubrication. And, this probably goes without saying but it is also worth mentioning: Don’t smoke. In any way, shape, or form! Educate yourself if you really need to see what smoking does to the voice.
Rest Your Voice When It’s Tired
Another important part of vocal health is also remembering to take “vocal naps” when necessary. You know your voice best; when you feel that you are straining too much or maybe you feel a cold coming on. You can tell when your voice has been overworked. Be sure to practice some self-care and let your voice rest. And that means no TALKING as much as no singing, too! Don’t think that just because you’re not singing means you can still use your voice – vocal rest means to rest the voice completely.
Yes, if you’re a singer, you have to warm up. You can’t just jump into singing without stretching a voice, a lot like stretching before you are running. Think of it as that type of a warm-up, but for your singing. Seth Riggs helped Michael Jackson to be “all the way open” in this warm-up session, so he knew how essential it is to make sure to do these vocal exercises before singing at full voice.
You don’t just get lucky enough to have a great voice. Those who have the singing talent have to consistently work to keep their voices in its best shape. Lady Gaga collaborated with a voice coach for over six months for just one performance. If you know that you want to perform on a stage, know the work that needs to go into it.
Singing is fun and entertaining, but it is also a job and your voice is a tool that is just as important to keep in good shape, just as you would for your legs or your arms. Don’t neglect it, take voice lessons with a trained professional and be sure to continually practice keeping your voice healthy.