Voice care as we return to singing

“Help! I’ve forgotten what it’s like to sing! How can I care for my voice?”

During the pandemic, many of us found that singing alongside one another was something we really missed. Now we’re back in church and singing again, we may find that our voices are somewhat out of practice. They may crack more easily or become hoarse. We may not be able to hit the notes we thought we could. For some, this can be alarming.

As Methodists, we are used to approaching corporate song with the same vigour and enthusiasm we might use to run up a flight of stairs. But, after such a long time of not singing, we shouldn’t be surprised if we need to walk the stairs for a time and acknowledge our need to get back to full condition. There is no need to become demoralised. With gentle persuasion and care – and a few helpful exercises – our voices can re-find their former strength.

Here are a few tips to help us get our voices back in training:

  1. Warm up. Why not gently hum your favourite hymn or song quietly on the way to church? Alternatively, making a ‘huh’ sound (as if steaming up a window to draw on with your fingers) will encourage warm, moist air to envelop your vocal cords.
  2. Breathing. Practise deep and centred breathing to relax your voice.
  3. Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is really important for our voices.
  4. Sing little and often. You could sing a hymn or song every day to help you get back into practice, and maybe intentionally make it a point of worship within your day.
  5. Not too loud! We can put more pressure on our voices by singing loudly, and so singing more quietly may help us build up our voices once again.
  6. Take a break. Once you’ve sung, it might be helpful to rest your voice and have a quiet hour or so without talking. This is especially true if your voice sounds hoarse.
  7. Don’t be afraid to stop. However hard that might be with others singing all around, it may prevent any longer-term issues occurring.
  8. Be patient! Much as we love to sing, we need to train our voices and give them time to build up again.