So it’s December: the magical season of festivities, gift-giving, and justified laziness… as well as empty bank accounts, perpetual busy-ness, and of course, some pretty suckish vocal conditions.

As the cruel Canadian winter approaches, the warm and humid air that your voice so heavily loves, hitches a ride with the geese flying south. We find ourselves left with every singer’s worst nightmare: the Cold, and the Dry.

You’ve probably noticed your voice feeling the effects of the climate. This Winter, I’ve noticed a few things happening to my voice, like:

  • Being more hoarse
  • Having less vocal agility
  • Having a feeling of extreme dryness
  • And getting vocally tired much quicker than usual

It’s normal during this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it! This video will be going through some surefire tactics to protect your voice as much as possible in Winter.
So grab a steaming cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy!

Tip One - Bundle up!

This is obvious, but make sure you bundle up! Our body is our instrument!

  • A warm hat and scarf should be part of every singer’s winter outfits!
  • A scarf over your nose doubles as a filter, making it much easier to intake warm - rather than cold - air

Tip Two - Breathe Through Your Nose

Besides being a notorious insult from the 80’s, “mouth breathers” actually can suffer some unwanted consequences. Breathing through the nose actually prevents a lot of germ and dust particles from entering the throat, while also humidifying the air on it’s way to the larynx. Also, inhaling through the mouth is dehydrating, which - on top of the lack of moisture in the air - is a huge misfortune.

Tip Three - Inhale some steam!

I didn’t know this until very recently, but drinking water doesn’t actually hydrate the vocal chords immediately. In reality, water can take up to three days to totally absorb. When we take a glug, we’re moisturizing the back of our throat (or pharynx), but not the larynx.

The steam from a humidifier, hot shower or drink, can directly moisturize your vocal chords, creating instant relief. If you don’t have one already, I would highly encourage you to invest in a humidifier!

I bought mine from Amazon for like 20 dollars, and it’s a HUGE LIFESAVER!

  • I leave mine on when I’m sleeping, when I’m studying… whenever I can!
  • Most humidifiers make very little or no sound at all, and they come in portable sizes like the one I have!
  • Also, humidifiers can come in many a cute form, and I’ve seen many that serve as nightlights as well.

If you don’t have a humidifier and are reluctant to get one, another trick is to do your warm ups in the shower! The moisture and warmth, coupled with the great acoustics, will prove a much more effective practise place than elsewhere.

Tip Four - Be lenient with your voice!

It’s important to realize that your voice is going to require a longer amount of time to warm up in the Winter. It goes for all singing, but especially now that:

  • You avoid straining or pushing your voice
  • Take as many breaks as you need, and lower your expectations for your voice in the Winter

As well as these basic rules, try your best to avoid clearing your throat, too. Doing this frequently could eventually result in a “repeated stress injury” of the larynx. If you are able to, try to swallow instead.

Tip Five - Hydrate (stay healthy!)

Maintain your general health! Exercise, diet, sleep, and hydration still matter as much as they ever did! In fact, they matter more now than ever!

Hydrate hydrate hydrate! As I said earlier, water has to circulate through your entire system before it reaches your vocal chords. If you have a performance, make sure you take care of your water intake a few days in advance.

  • Decaffeinated teas are your friend! I know lots of people swear by teas with ginger, licorice, honey, and/or lemon.
  • While you’re at it, why not throw soup into the mix? A nice bowl of steamy goodness can help soothe your chords too!

Tip Six - Whip out the cleaning supplies

With winter comes central heating. Hallelujah!
But as much as we love our warm rooms and cosy toes, it does come with a cost of dryness and more dust in the air. A dry nose and throat can be the ideal hangout for bacteria, so whatever you can do to reduce these no-no’s will benefit you a lot. For example, vacuuming before you turn on the heat can reduce the plumes of dust blown into the air by the heaters. If you’re dusting, don’t forget to clean the heaters themselves too!

In conclusion

To summarize this blog post always be sure to do the following to keep your voice healthy during the winter months:

  • Bundle up
  • Breathe through your nose
  • Inhale some steam
  • Maintain your health
  • Keep hydrated
  • Keep your house clean

We hope you've learned something new and will use some - if not all - of these tips to continue sharing your voice throughout the blizzards to come.

See you on stage!