musical word of the weekWhen you are a singer, your body, from your head to your toes, is your instrument. Yes, every inch. Of course there are some parts more obvious, such as your throat and vocal chords, lungs and even sinuses. For these, the advice is simple. Mainly, keep yourself well hydrated, mainly by drinking lots of water. Other drinks such as tea are acceptable, but you should avoid too much caffeine as it will dehydrate you in the long run. I have heard from doctors that if you feel thirsty, then you are already on your way to being dehydrated – so my advice: don’t allow yourself to become thirsty!

This brings me neatly from throat to the sinuses. By keeping yourself hydrated, you stand a better chance of avoiding headaches and particularly migraines, which can inhibit your practise as singing can put a lot of pressure on the sinuses and therefore make headaches worse, leading into a vicious circle.

In the case of lungs, that can mainly fall down to your immune system but you can help yourself out in a couple of cases. If you have asthma, for example, keeping your condition well managed will be key to keeping breath control well managed. For those who are, or have been, a smoker then your lung capacity will most likely be reduced. If you still smoke, it’s wise to at least try to reduce the number you smoke on a regular basis and start drinking more water.

Less obvious, is pretty much the rest of your body. In general, singers perform best when they are at best physical and mental health, so taking care of yourself before you practise or perform is rather important. Whether it be doing anything you can to avoid getting a cold, staying careful so as to not break any bones, or being aware of and taking care of your mental and emotional state, your well- being will affect your singing. Physically, you can take care of yourself with the earlier advice: keep hydrated. From the NHS website: “Most of the chemical reactions that happen in our cells need water in order to take place. We also need water so that our blood can carry nutrients around the body and get rid of waste.” Keeping as fit as possible is important too, so some sort of physical exercise as frequently as possible helps both body and mind (exercising releases endorphins – the “happy hormones”), thus keeping you on top of your game and allowing you to perform at your best, feeling at your best.