The Vocal Road Warrior Formula

by Cari Cole

 

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Lately in the news, popping up here and there, artists are losing their voices, canceling concerts due to “cold and chest infection” and suffering from vocal hemorrhages.

Adele, John Mayer, Sam Smith and now Meghan Trainor have all experienced extended vocal silence due to major vocal chord trauma.

The real truth is, It’s actually challenging to stay in good vocal shape on tour. Amidst the grueling non-stop schedule, dehydration from air travel, lack of nutrition from fast food chains (there’s very little “green” food on tour except for iceberg lettuce and that is FAR from green…), the crazy media blitz’s, photo op’s, publicity, etc.  Hopefully singers will start taking more care and be diligent about training their voices pre-tour, learn how to prevent damage, stay healthy and continue to escape the knife (not something you ever want to do – your voice could never be the same again).

I find that even most managers and record exec’s and even the majority of vocal coaches, don’t know what I am going to reveal here in this article. I am always surprised by that – I guess it’s the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” attitude. However, with the voice, it’s too vulnerable an instrument to NOT be preventative with, because once it’s damaged, a singer is down for the count and often for too long. Why take the chance?

And not only can you recover from almost any vocal problem – sometimes within two days if you know what you’re doing, preventative care helps you avoid breakdowns all together. Just by understanding how to take care and stock up with the right natural prescriptions in your medicine satchel and acting at the first sign of anything and you’ll stay in the safe zone. I’ve done it a gazillion times myself with my own voice (yes, I’ve been my own guinea pig) and with thousands of singers over the past few decades.  And now I teach to all of my singers exactly what do to in a myriad of situations and how to diagnose symptoms.

Last year one of my well-known artists left me a message in a panic. He was performing at a music conference and was on his way to LA for his first appearance ever on network TV (the Ellen Show) in just two days and he was losing his voice by the minute. He texted me feverishly, terrified he would have no voice by the time he got there – what was he going to do?? I mean – who wants to botch the Ellen Show?? He was beside himself with anxiety and was ready for anything…

What followed next was a trip to Whole Foods (usually the only place that has everything) with a detailed shopping list. I sent him the instructions, which basically included along the lines of water-boarding, a vegan diet, massage and acupuncture (works wonders for vocal problems), a lot of down-dog and swallowing a mega load of supplements and herbs every 2 hours. Luckily, he had also just been at my studio in New York and I had given him some of my Chinese herbs to take on the road “just in case” (harder to find).  Well, not only did he get his voice back, but he sounded amazing (you couldn’t tell there was any vocal problem at all) and he looked so chill up there under the lights, I was sure it was from sheer relief! We were both thrilled, thank goodness for natural remedies, knowing how to use them and a handful of tricks up my sleeve. He would not have made it without them.

The good news is, vocal problems and burnout are all preventable and fixable if you are willing to do the work and follow instructions. The body is an amazing healing machine when you know the right fuel and elixirs to feed it. I have helped countless singers recover from problems as well as avoid the knife altogether.

This is usually behind closed door stuff, but I wanted you, my faithful readers, to be armed with this info, so you can sing your heart out and know there’s a way to do it without wearing out and losing out!

Are you ready to be a Vocal Road Warrior? Here’s now: 

The Vocal Road Warrior Formula

First off, I just want to point out the beauty of the word Healthy. Heal-thy. That amazing healing machine that the body is when you give it the right nutrition, rest and vocal prep!

Here’s the prescription of a healthy voice:

  1. Heal-thy Body: hydration, diet, nutrition, massage, natural remedies
  2. Heal-thy Voice: hydration (I can never say this word enough), sleep (at least 7-8 hrs), vocal technique: warm ups & cool downs
  3. Heal-thy Self: positive attitude, visualization, stress management, gratitude

Here’s the Whole Foods Vitamins & Herbs Shopping list I gave my client above:

  1. Soloray powdered Crystalline Vitamin C (non-ascorbic, won’t cause reflux) 1 tsp every 2 hours (in a shot of juice) until you are better (except for nighttime)
  2. Bronchial Soothe (stops coughing immediately – Coughing shreds your vocal cords)
  3. Hydrochloric acid (little known natural cure for reflux, seems counter-intuitive, but when you have reflux your body doesn’t make enough “good” acid — hydrochloric)
  4. Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, Oral demulcent sore throat syrup you can find in Chinatown (if you can’t find this, Loquat Syrup will do)
  5. Green juice:  celery, cucumber, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, ginger and cilantro (Juice 3x a day) If you can’t get sunflower sprouts and pea shoots, add kale, spinach and any other greens.
  6. Oregano oil (pure essential oil) Use topically on throat 3x day
  7. Oregano tea (great for vocal loss)
  8. Raw creamed honey (the best throat balm in the world)
  9. Vocal Eze throat Spray (www.travelwellness.com) Best natural spray on the market! Use 6-7 x a day for moisture and vocal health
  10. Tiger balm, Use topically on throat 3x a day (keep throat wrapped with a light silk scarf)
  11. Sore Throat/Hoarseness homeopathic remedy (Roxalia) by Boiron use 3-4x a day for three days

Plus:

  1. Nightly baths with Kneipps or Epsom Salts to reduce neck and upper back tension.
  2. Massage or Acupuncture to reduce throat tension.
  3. Yoga to reduce overall stress and tension.
  4. Meditation to reduce mental stress and depression.

Over the years I have come to specialize in holistic care of the voice and fixing vocal problems mainly because of my interest in alternative care as a solution for chronic problems and my knowledge of the vocal instrument.  I will say that there is so much more to it than I can go into in this one article. Vocal problems can arise from many different sources that I didn’t even touch on here. And of course nothing is more important if you are having problems than getting a diagnosis with a professional ENT (voice doctor) and getting treatment. But hopefully, I’ve given you a good head start here, enough to set things right quickly.

For more information on keeping your voice healthy and preventing damage, experience my Singers Gift Warm ups and Cool Downs and if you need more personalized help, set up a Cole Power Hour to get your voice moving in the right direction asap!

 

For more information about being a Vocal Road Warrior, grab your free Vocal Road Warrior 3-part Series: Keep Your Voice Healthy + Fit

Find out how to stop shredding your vocal cords, discover the best holistic natural remedies and keep your voice healthy on and off tour!
  • K Payne

    Thanks so much for this article! I’ve been looking for ways to rebuild my voice after very recent thyroid surgery (that also revealed damage to my vocal cords), so this information gives me hope that I’ll be able to speak normally and, eventually, sing again.

  • Hitting the road for 3 weeks today — You were in my inbox just in time for me to hit up the Whole Foods!

    Love you!

    -Val

  • Jeanne B

    Thank you for this! I had a telephone survey job for several weeks that despite my best efforts, took its toll on my voice. (I quit and told the temp agency I refuse to risk my singing voice for a job like that ever again.) While time and complete vocal rest has helped, now that I’m resuming my singing and rebuilding my voice, it gets hoarse faster (scary!). I know this will pass, but I’m sure adding these items to my bag of tricks will expedite the process of returning to normal.

    One remedy I swore by during my stint in 80s glam rock bands was Agrimony tea. I carried around a wine bottle filled with the stuff and nursed it all night. I wonder if Agrimony and Oregano are related?

  • Captain Payne

    With in-ear monitoring I went from singing a couple songs to two hours with out damaging my voice. Simply because I was not trying to over-exert my vocal cords to hear myself above the music.

  • The SINGING VOICE FORMULA was discovered in Russia.
    “To obtain the best singing sound the length of oropharyngeal mouth when singing must be equal to the length of the central overtone wave of the certain person upper singing formant, or the resonant frequency of his/her nasal cavity”.

    L=2C/F

    where –
    L – the length of oropharyngeal mouth in meters.
    The length of oropharyngeal mouth varies depending on larynx position.

    C – the sound speed in the air, usually taken as 340 m/s

    F – central frequency of the high singing formant of the certain person in Hz.
    Depends on individual anatomy of the nasal cavity.
    Often it is not connected with the certain type of voice, but there is a trend of storing some typical values for each type of voice.
    Henceforth each person who does not have any pathology of the vocal apparatus may find optimal position of his/her larynx when singing and have trained singing voice using simple measurements and computations.
    But don’t forget that having a voice does not mean being a singer.

  • David Smith

    I would like to tell you about a amazing voice remedy that helped so many singers and speakers its called “Sprouts Voice Formula” . This is proven to be effective for hoarseness or just to keep your voice in shape. I felt a major difference after 3-4 hours using it. I would recommend this to any one struggling with voice Check it out on Amazon
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0065KKRSE

  • Lisa Witherow

    Hi Cari – Great information! A couple additional notes may also help your readers:

    Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) is best for those who have difficulty breaking down protein and can be taken just before heavy meals. It should not be taken by anyone who has ulcers or nausea until H. Pylori is ruled out (that’s a bacteria that can overtake the digestive tract and cause ulcers, nausea, etc)

    Digestive Enzymes can be helpful for people with reflux or digestive discomfort with non-protein foods – helping to break down the foods more efficiently and use the vital nutrients of fruits, vegetables and grains.

    The source of inflammation should always be considered also – so the root of the issue can be addressed. There are amazing natural remedies that help reduce inflammation along with the nutrition and lifestyle that supports each individual best (as you already mentioned).

    Health & Happiness to You!

  • bernard blatte

    Vocal Cord Nodules Natural Treatment for strained vocal harmonies relies on upon determination of hidden conditions. Herbs Solutions By Nature are offering Nedeton, an herbal supplement made out of natural ingredients that are gotten from genuine herb dealers.

    http://www.herbs-solutions-by-nature.com/Vocal-Cord-Nodules.php