It's so nice to see that YOU are amongst the few people that actually want to take care of their voices! Without wasting any of your time, let’s go!
Eat and Drink:
It is important to not eat any greasy foods or milk products. If you must eat quickly before a performance, try not to eat to much, your lungs won’t expand as much if your stomach is full! It is also SUPER IMPORTANT to drink plenty of water starting at least 2 hours before you begin to sing.
Exercises and Warm-ups:
I always exercise furiously the night before a day performance. I also do about 20 minutes on my elliptical the morning of. It really helps to pump your energy and get you feeling warmed up. Another SUPER IMPORTANT thing to do is work the tension out of your neck and shoulders. You would really be amazed at the amount of pressure you carry in this area, but it is very important to keep it loosened so as to aid in proper air flow. Of cause doing scales as part of a warm-up is very important, but there are also some fun ones that help to get you ready. Make huge faces (raise your eyebrows and stretch your mouth), do slides, and sing a little of your song.
Something to know: raising your eyebrows while singing DOES improve your pitch
The first thing that I usually ask a singer is "how well do you hear yourself in the monitors?" Often, they are not hearing themselves sing on stage, so they figure that the audience can't hear them sing and push their voice harder than what is natural. The result is that the tone becomes dull or strident and often intonation problems occur. Talk to your sound man and make sure that you have enough of your voice in the monitors. If you've got the funds, invest in a headset microphone.
Clearing My Throat
Some say that you should never clear your throat, but excess mucous inhibits free vocal cord coordination. The trick is to find a way to clear your throat without irritating it. Do a gentle "whispered cough" (without tone) and then swallow. Repeat. If this doesn't work, you need to deal with the excess mucous production. Squeeze a 1/4 of a lemon in a tall glass of water and sip over about 20 minutes. This should cut through a lot of the excess mucous. Furthermore, watch your dairy intake... especially cheese, shawama, or anything that has fat-like ingredients, you know, like Butter, Mayonnaise, etc. You should never eat it on the day of a performance!
Singing With A Soar Throat
Depending on what's causing it, singing with a sore throat can be catastrophic. I tell my clients, "if it hurts to swallow, don't sing!" Conversely, if it's a mildly soar throat, consult your doctor (it's a good idea to find a good ear, nose, throat specialist in your area and build a relationship with him) and then use your best judgment. Dry air, singing abusively, and viral/bacterial infection are some of the more common causes of a sore throat. Some people just wake up with a sore throat every day of their life. I've found that the majority of those people have acid-reflux, which means they are burping up stomach acids while they are sleeping or sometimes even while they are awake. For most, however, this happens in the night, so they may be completely unaware of the problem. They then wake up with a scratchy, raspy voice and a sore throat.
Nodules in the vocal cords develop due to abuse and misuse of your vocal cords closing with too much force. The constant forceful banging together of your vocal cords can lead to the growth of nodules at the spot where they come together with maximum contact. When nodules start to form a tiny reddening can be seen on the edge of the vocal cord. With time a nodule or bump forms and becomes hard, in the same way that a callous forms on the palm of your hand if you work without gloves.
There is never any pain during the growth of nodules. The most common indicator that nodules exist is a hoarse and breathy sound of your voice. Visit your doctor immediately if you have any pain.
The remedy for vocal cord nodules typically includes voice therapy. Voice therapy should be performed for a minimum of six months twice a week in thirty-minute sessions.
Surgical removal alone is not recommended, because you must eliminate the causes of vocal cord nodules. Without an understanding of why you developed nodules they are likely to come back no matter how often you have nodules removed surgically.
If you are already a singer who has developed vocal cord nodules due to improper singing methods, then you should begin from the ground up in order to rediscover the right amount of compression to use. Proper singing lessons will give you a terrific head start towards fixing your voice. The aim of proper singing lessons and vocal exercises is to enable you to sing from the bottom of your range to the top of your range effortlessly.
If you are just beginning to sing then you should start out with the proper singing lessons and you will never have to worry about developing vocal cord nodules.
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Best wishes, enjoy your voice!