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Keep your voice in top shape by NOT treating it like you used to.

As featured in The Harmonizer.

Keeping yourself active through singing has the power to heal and stimulate your mind and body. There are so many of us out there today who have been helped with our bronchitis, asthma and other forms of breathing issues because we sing. Follow the below steps to maintain good vocal health throughout your life.

Sing a little every day. The muscle you sing with is one of the strongest in your body. However, like all the other muscles in your body, it too will begin to harden as you grow older. When you were younger, you could miss one or two days and it would not make a difference. As you get older, it does! Sing every day! Activate your mind and ears by singing some kind of harmony.

Warm up before your rehearsals. Do a little warm-up on your own, even before your own chorus warm-up. This is probably the most important vocalizing that you will do each week! This warm-up should include both vocal exercises and breathing exercises.

Use proper posture throughout each day. Breathing for everyday life and breathing for singing should be the same. Ensure that you do not stoop as you walk or sit, nor while working on your laptop or watching TV. Sing with proper, relaxed posture. Your muscles are changing, and proper breathing will keep them fresh and alive. Stand tall with your feet parallel to your shoulders, your chest high, and your shoulders relaxed. Keep your mouth and throat open to the point that you hear no noise when you inhale and exhale.

Sing deeply with “warm” air. If you cannot feel humidity when you place your hand in front of your mouth, you are not breathing deeply enough. Breathe deeply without your upper chest moving; instead, your abdominal wall, sides and back should move outward when you inhale.

Speak the same way you sing. Use your head voice, with proper focus and relaxation throughout your range.

Always speak in your “mean” pitch. The older you get, the more easily you will lose clearness in your tone. Speaking at your mean will keep your vocal tone clearer and stronger. The “mean” pitch is a fifth higher (a bit less than a full octave) than the lowest quality pitch you can sing. People with low-pitched voices often complain of vocal fatigue (a worsening of the voice, soreness, hoarseness, or pain in the throat after prolonged vocal usage). This is often from speaking too low in their range.

Keep your body active. As you mature, you must keep physically active. Sitting in your easy chair to watch TV will not help you continue to sing your best. Just as singing can help you stay healthy, a healthy lifestyle helps you sing. Find an active hobby that helps your body combat age. The number one exercise is swimming, but walking, cycling, golf, a health club, or an aerobic program on the Wii are all great ways to stay active. Do anything your body will allow you to do to stay flexible.

Jim DeBusman Retired BHS music staff