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The 3 Must-Haves for Vocal Maintenance

Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was a voice student.

One day my vocal coach told me about a few items that I should purchase in order to take better care of my voice. Being the perfect student, I emphatically assured her that I would buy those items. Unfortunately I was also a procrastinating and broke college student, so my well intentioned commitment was never realized.

It wasn’t until TWO YEARS later that I finally bit the bullet and purchased the Must-Haves for Vocal Maintenance that had been recommended to me.  When I began using these tools and felt the results, I kicked myself out of frustration that I had not bought the sooner.

The difference was astounding.

What are these life changing must-haves you ask? I will start off by mentioning that these items are listed in order of importance. Behold!
  1. Humidifier
  2. Neti Pot
  3. Facial Steamer

If you have these 3 items in your vocal-arsenal, then you are ready to face whatever challenges life throws at you as a singer! Lets dig into the “why” behind each of these.

A humidifier is a game changer for singers!  This was the first item my vocal coach recommended to me that took me 2 years to purchase.  When I first started sleeping with a humidifier running at night, my vocal health immediately improved.  Enough cannot be said about how these help singers.  
When it comes to purchasing a humidifier, I recommend a warm mist as it boils the water and creates steam as opposed to cool mist humidifiers which simply release water into the air in a mist-like form.  
I had a client who told me that she woke up hoarse every morning of her ENTIRE LIFE.  She thought it was normal to wake up with basically no voice at all.  Once she started sleeping with a humidifier running at night she was completely shocked to discover that she could actually phonate and feel refreshed in the morning.  Game. Changer.
Neti Pot
Neti pot
*in overemphatic car salesman/ announcer voice*
Have YOU ever wondered what it feels like getting waterboarded by the CIA?! Of course you have! For only $19.99 a month for the rest of your life YOU TOO can feel the shocking sensation of blasting ocean water through your face! Don’t wait, call today and you can get a second Neti Pot, for FREE! Now you AND your loved ones can share in this experience TOGETHER!
This is how the majority of my clients react when I advise them to get a Neti Pot.  You would think I was advising them to subject themselves to torture.  The truth is the Neti Pot (like all new experiences), takes some getting used to.  After the 2nd or 3rd try it is very easy to use. The results are fantastic.  Being able to deeply clean and irrigate your nasal passages is a massive advantage for a singer.  
A couple tips: 
  2. The best time to use the Neti Pot is right before going to bed, AND right when you wake up.  This helps to prevent mucus from ever dripping onto your vocal cords in the first place.  
Important (but really not important) side note:
I have this amazing idea for an SNL skit called the  “Naughty Pot” where crazy execs in Hollywood (who try to over-sexualize everything), attempt to sexualize the Neti Pot.  For those of you who have used a Neti Pot you know that this is the least sexy activity that one can do, so this skit always plays out hilariously in my mind.  I’m just saying, if they sexualize ice cream commercials whats to stop them from using sex appeal for a small tea pot that literally blasts mucus out of our faces? Nothing I tell you! 
Facial Steamer
Facial steamer
Our final tool in the arsenal of must-haves is a facial steamer! Whereas the humidifier and Neti Pot are for regular daily use, the facial steamer is used for occasional maintenance.  When we are feeling particularly dry, the steamer is a perfect tool to aggressively hydrate the vocal folds and help them to rehabilitate if any damage has been done.  When we get sick, the steamer is perfect for helping soothe a sore throat.  It is also a great tool to use before a big performance back stage. You’ll get good vocal cord hydration without needing to use the bathroom like crazy! Win!
What About Drinking Water?!
This is not mentioned on the list of Must-Haves simply because this is something that we citizens of the world already know. Drinking water is one of the most important things a singer can do to keep there vocal folds hydrated. When we drink water it takes at least 20 minutes for that water to hydrate the vocal cords, because of course, it doesn’t make direct contact with the vocal cords (unless we’re choking).  When H20 in the form of steam or mist is in the air, we can breathe the moisture in and it makes direct contact with our vocal cords. Hence the effectiveness of the facial steamer (and the humidifier). Yay! 

And there you have it folks!  
The 3 Must-Haves for Vocal Maintenance just slid directly into your DMs.  Enjoy a mucus-free life with happy, healthy, and hydrated vocal folds! 

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Jacob Burton

Jacob Burton is a highly rated professional vocal coach located in Nashville, Tennessee. He offers instruction via both online and in studio, and specializes in singing with proper technique, increasing the vocal range, vocal therapy, and especially the "mix" technique.