The Singer’s Health and Nutrition by Laura Etemah

The voice, unlike any other musical instrument, is natural and situated in the human body. Hence if the body is healthy, the voice is also healthy. 
This is why I advise my clients – choristers, artistes and solo singers, to ensure that they keep healthy and go for a checkup every three months whether sick or not. 
Can you imagine using your car for three months without checking the oil gauge? Why not treat your body likewise? 
Your health deserves the most of your attention because if your breakdown, all other activities will automatically come to a halt!
Therefore, pay attention to your health. More so as a singer, if you go with these little guideline, you will be able to harness the full potential of your voice:
• Drink plenty of water; 6-8 glasses per day is what most    doctors recommend.
• If you drink coffee or live in a dry environment, it is advisable to kick up your water intake above the minimum of 6-8 glasses. It is important that you are replacing the water that you have lost. Drink well in advance to the time you need your vocal cords ready to be lubricated.
• Pay attention to the way you speak. Speaking too much exposes your singing voice to much wear and tear. 
• Try not to talk over a background of noise: it makes you talk louder than you would need to normally.
• Vegetables and fruits are excellent for your voice.
• Use a microphone when singing with a band of musicians to avoid shouting, which will cause wear and lead to voice loss.
• Steam often. Especially if you have a cold or blocked nose. Inhale the steam through the mouth and exhale through the nose and vice versa.
• Avoid smoking and alcohol they dry up the vocal cords, stripping it off substances that promote its proper functioning.
• Alligator pepper, bitter kola, ginger, honey and lemon are important home remedies every singer should have. For any vocal issues, contact your doctor to know what combinations to use. Your vocal coach can also guide you.
Sometimes, you could have important concerts and a cold could get in the way. What do you do? There are a couple of things you could do to see if you can still perform. You first need to pay attention to where the cold is residing. 
• If you have nasal congestion, consult your doctor.
• Avoid unnecessary throat-clearing and coughing as much as you can to avoid injuring your vocal as much as screaming could.
• Be gentle while clearing mucus.
• Use a microphone when singing with a band, as the voice cannot compete with electronic amplification.
• Keep warm.
• Ginger and honey tea should help in case there is no hospital or doctor in sight.
• Physical exercises will also help you generate the energy that could clear away the cold.
• Any kind of cold medication, e.g. aspirin might make you dry and might impact the vocal cords. You therefore need to consult your doctor about over-the-counter medications.
As we go about our daily activities, we get involved in all kinds of ventures – the good, the bad and the risky. 
Some of the conditions we expose ourselves to are not beneficial to our vocal health. It is your personal responsibility to find out what is safe and unsafe for you. 
Embrace safety and avoid the unnecessary. Prevention they say, is better than cure!
• Lack of proper warm-up. Warm up every time before you sing. DO NOT WARM UP BY TRYING TO SING A COUPLE OF SONGS!
• Jumping to extreme levels of vocal activity.
• Prolonged singing at the extremes of your range.
• Overuse of the voice – not stopping when you should.
• Shouting and poor speaking habits.
• Reflux: a condition where the contents of your stomach wash back up into your esophagus.  The symptoms are: heartburn and excessive throat mucus.
• Smoking: singers should not smoke, as it severely attacks the vocal cords, stripping it off its protective material.
• Lack of hydration.
• Drug abuse.
(An excerpt from my book: Overcoming Your Singing Challenges. To get your copy contact 08137107137 via WhatsApp or call)

Author: Laura Etemah

Laura Etemah is a Nigeria/ UK trained an award-winning and full-time Musician, Music Teacher, Author, Vocal Coach and the Director of Lee Vocal Studios and Lee Ellie Music School. As the music woman who loves children and a highly sought-after Music Teacher for children, Laura is also a strong advocate for the music education of the Nigerian child. More so, she has a passion for helping speakers, singers, musical artistes and aspiring vocalists of all styles and abilities, develop the full potential of their voices. The birth of Lee Vocal Studios came through as a result of this. Laura is also an expert in organizing fun and engaging music workshops for children in singing, piano, guitar, violin and recorder. Her multi-instrument playing skills has paved way for her in the music teaching business, making her a force to reckon with in the industry. Laura uses the Nigerian, British and American curriculum in disseminating her music lectures and this is the reason why she is the most patronized music teacher in Nigeria and across West Africa. Laura also teaches music to adults up to the age of 70! Proving to all that anyone can learn music so long as the interest, time and energy are there. The benefits of music are awesome and adults can rewire their brains for higher achievements and rejuvenate the abilities of the brain by taking music lessons. In 2006, Laura won the the Star Quest Music Reality TV Show, with her band – Daccord; and went on a tour with Tu Baba, Tony Tetuilla, P-Square, The Natives and a host of other Nigerian music stars to the UK to perform at the MOBO awards. Her band, Daccord also went for a 10-city tour with a host of Nigerian music stars (Star Trek, 2006) and performed alongside Akon and LL Cool J at the Star Mega Jam, 2006. In 2011, Laura was awarded by the ex-Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) for her successful NYSC music community projects carried out to benefit the secondary school students of the Surulere Community, in Lagos State, Nigeria. One of the projects included the audio and video recording of the popular song – Good People of Nigeria, which is mostly played on the 1st of October to commemorate the independence of Nigeria. Watch here: Watch the video documentary of my NYSC projects here: Laura is also well known for her bestselling book, Sing Like a Superstar, which has helped many singers, artistes, choristers, musicians, producers and choir directors to discover the true potential of their voices. The book is also accompanied by a downloadable voice training CD that has proved to build the voices of thousands of singers. In 2011, Laura became the first African woman to obtain a Master of Arts in Music Production from Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom. She also holds a first degree in Geology from Delta State University, Abraka –Nigeria; and a number of diplomas in music. Laura has worked in several recording studios, taught and is still teaching music privately and in many nursery, primary and secondary schools. Laura is also very much in the business of training groups of singers and choristers. Laura is currently based in Lagos-Nigeria, teaching music production, instrument and singing classes.

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