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Your voice and Good Vocal Hygiene
Your voice is the result of many mechanisms working together. Your voice is affected by the things you ask it to do on a daily basis, and can be affected by the environment. Symptoms of voice disorder include: Complete loss of voice, vocal fatigue, hoarseness, breathiness, a husky quality, a squeaky sound, a harsh/strained quality, reduced pitch, loudness, and a reduction of vocal range or flexibility. When we talk about vocal hygiene, we are talking about increasing or decreasing behaviours and/or exposure to certain environments that promote a good voice and facilitate verbal communication. A healthy voice results from a combination of healthy voice behaviours and a healthy environment.
Good vs. poor vocal hygiene
1. Sip water, yawn to relax your throat.
1. Clear your throat or cough habitually.
Things to remember about your voice
- Drink 8 – 10 cups of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks per day to keep your body and throat hydrated, more if you exercise or drink caffeine.
- Learn to physically relax (speaking and breathing exercises).
- Learn to recognize signs of vocal fatigue (hoarseness, tension, dryness, etc.) If symptoms persist for more than a couple of days, consult your doctor.
- Try not to smoke!
The cow-grazer (helps relax lower jaw and upper neck)
- Sitting in a comfortable position, open your lower jaw as if you were taking a bite from a sandwich.
- Slowly move your lower jaw in a clockwise circular motion.
- Pretend you are drawing a circle with your chin or pretend you are grazing on grass like a cow in the pasture.
- After ten repetitions, repeat the exercise in a counter clockwise motion.
Head and neck rolls (helps to relax neck, shoulders, and upper chest muscles)
- In a comfortable sitting position, tilt your head to the left side toward your shoulder. Then roll your head forward in a circular motion until it reaches the opposite shoulder.
- Do not roll your head back, instead lift your head straight up and continue from the beginning.
- After ten repetitions, repeat the exercise and begin from the other shoulder.
Belly breathing (encourages good breath support and posture)
- From a comfortable sitting position place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly.
- ake a slow, deep breath in while trying to push your belly hand out more than your chest hand.
- Slowly let the air out and start over.
- The goal is to practice having your belly hand move more than your chest hand.
- This exercise is for practicing proper breath support needed for good voice use.
- It helps if you have good body posture (i.e., don’t slouch).