S.O.S: Save our Singing (Voice)

Throat trouble?

It’s been a rocky couple of months for pop starlet Adele. Although she romped home with the gold at both the Grammys and the Brit Awards, too much Rolling in the Deep took its toll on her vocal chords and she recently underwent serious throat surgery to sort out recurrent bleeding caused by a benign polyp.

Regardless of whether you love her music or think singing exclusively about bad relationships is a little self-indulgent, there are lessons that all singers can take from Adele’s experience where looking after their voice is concerned, so they don’t find themselves in the same situation and having to cancel concert dates – every musician’s worst nightmare!

To help, Two Moors Festival artistic director Penny Adie – herself a former opera singer, who used to live and work in the Middle East and found moving from exceedingly hot temperatures to air-conditioned rooms very tough on her throat – has come up with a few tips to help singers protect their pipes.

  • Drink a lot, although some singers believe that water clogs the throat. I know one who drinks flat Coke, which is a good lubricant apparently
  • Some singers don’t eat cheese or anything else that might clog up their throat
  • Breathe down and slowly, filling the lungs – and every tiny cavity – with air
  • Don’t gasp in lots of cold air
  • Keep yourself as fit as possible
  • Get lots of sleep
  • Don’t drink ice-cold drinks
  • Don’t smoke – although lots of singers used to do so
  • Use whatever’s at your disposal to help – I once used a starched dinner napkin to tie around my throat
  • It’s also sensible to wear a scarf at times (carol singing out of doors isn’t a good idea, no matter how fun it is).

Are you a singer? What have you found helpful for looking after your voice?

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2 thoughts on “S.O.S: Save our Singing (Voice)”

  1. All of the above are useful comments and may I add one more.
    Consult (the late) Esther Salaman (my aunt)’s little book,”UNLOCKING YOUR VOICE” which is a mine of information on the common problems most singers encounter at some stage in their carreers and on vocal technique in general. She spent the latter half of her life struggling to understand the problems with, and improve her professional singing voice, and to put into simple words her findings for the amateur and professional singer alike. She has been highly praised by (the late) Dame Joan Sutherland and (the very much not-late) Maureen Lipman, who stated how much she was helped by Esther with a vocal crisis during a West-end run.

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