Phlegm: Creamy Or Extra Chunky?? Ewwwwwww….
As every professional voice training user knows, the presence of phlegm, or mucous, on the vocal folds can be a real pain in the butt when it comes to being your best for the all-important gig. We guzzle water, we clear our throats repeatedly, we warm up excessively all in an effort to cough up that junk and get our throats clear, but there is a better way to avoid that situation – prevent it!
Prevention, in this case, is all about diet and lifestyle, and it starts with a daily regimen of drinking water. I recommend getting a large water bottle and filling it every morning, with the goal being to have it finished by the end of the day.
How much water you drink should depend on your size and daily activity; anyone involved in sports obviously needs to hydrate more than the average person, since the activity causes the body to shed water. Also, anyone who drinks coffee or alcohol needs to drink more water, since these tend to rid the body of water and dry out the delicate lining of the vocal folds called the epithelium.
Many people erroneously believe that the reason we drink water is to ‘wash down” the phlegm prior to singing. Yes, you should have water handy when singing or speaking in quantity, but it is the constant hydration of the body that is important, not just at the gig.
You see, when the body is hydrated, the mucous tends to be thin and watery, and will easily slide down and be much less bothersome; when the body is low on water it will protect that delicate tissue by thickening the mucous so that it protects the lining. That thick phlegm is what really causes the problems when singing, and trying to clear it the traditional way only grinds the folds together and causes more irritation… and an irritated throat is hard to sing with!
To make matters worse, when the folds are irritated, we tend to start singing harder to get through the register shifts, losing our vocal balance, and even more irritation occurs! It’s a downward spiral from there….
Solution: have a daily water regimen and stick to it!!
Also, watch your diet… fatty foods, fried foods, fast food, soda, sugar, high sodium, all tend to push the body into protect mode, whereas green vegetables, fruits, lean meats and fish tend to keep a healthier, more efficient and less obstructive mucous on the folds. Certain allergies, like allergies to wheat or wheat gluten will also wreak havoc with the production of mucous, so it’s important to understand your own body and what you need and don’t need.
Excessive shouting and vocal horseplay is something else that should be avoided by the serious singer, but I’ll cover that in another session.
Taking care of your voice is a serious matter for the serious vocalist, and so is Intensive and Effective Vocal Training… to find out more about how you can train your voice to be at its best, visit us at www.voicetraining.com and learn about the Ultimate Voice Training for Singers home study program – you’ll be glad you did!
The Vocal Troubleshooter™