Common Sense Vocal Health


Renowned medical specialist Anthony F. Jahn sums up decades of vocal health experience in 10 straight-forward principles.

After 30 years of treating professional singers, from students to opera stars, I have come to the firm belief that the best way to manage vocal injury is to avoid it.

The larynx is a complex and delicate structure that is constantly active, whether you are singing, speaking, or just quietly breathing.

Here are some simple and common sense tips that will keep your voice healthy, and may keep you out of the doctor’s office:

1. Speak like you sing, with good technique.

2. Stay hydrated. Drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water every day. Two glasses of water with each meal and one glass between meals (2+1+2+1+2).

3. Know your body. When you are ill, don’t force the voice. CommonSenseText

4. If it hurts to sing, stop and reassess. You’re doing something wrong.

5. Avoid noisy places if you can. Even if you are not speaking, your throat tenses reflexively.

6. Eat small amounts of healthy food frequently for an optimal diet.

7. Identify, and deal with, harmful stressors in your life.

8. Address tension anywhere in your body, It can heighten tension in your vocal tract.

9. Exercise and stretch regularly.

10. Be aware of your medications (prescription, over-the-counter and supplements), including possible effects on the voice.

Remember a healthy voice comes from a healthy body and a healthy mind.

See all of Dr. Jahn’s Vocal Health Q & As at a glance.

See our review of Dr. Jahn’s recent book on vocal health

JahnBioDr. Anthony F. Jahn is a Board-certified otolaryngologist who practices in New York with a special focus on the care of professional voice patients. Dr. Jahn has had a 30-year association with the Metropolitan Opera as covering physician, has toured with the company, and is Medical Director at the Met. His book, The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health has just been published.

This article originally appeared on the Oxford University Press Tumblr

  • Poppa Madison

    Great advice, but it won’t stop the effects of things like Hay fever on the mucal making aspect of the bodily functions which literally gums up the vocal chords and prevents getting into the essential “relaxed vocal chords” situation which then means that vocal timbre and vibrato are an almost insurmountable challenge.

    Who can REALLY help with such an affliction?

    I can hear it in my head, I can imagine it being sung as I would like others to hear it, I can even compose the arrangement I feel fits the way I will sing it.

    BUT the dreaded Mucous wont let me perform it without sounding like a challenged would-be-vocalist.

    Oh for the relaxed pipes of an Al Martino or Bocelli !

    Merry Christmas!


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    Poppa Madison specializes in Composing Music &
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