• Ryan Jenkins: The Online Vocal Coach

Quick Blog: The Benefits of Steaming

As singers, we all know the benefits of keeping one’s voice hydrated - it's the golden rule! For most of us that would consist of drinking enough water. However, there are several ways of keeping your voice hydrated.

In terms of keeping your voice, and in particular your vocal cords, well hydrated, there are two methods, systematic hydration and direct hydration.

Systematic Hydration

Drinking water is a form of systematic hydration. By drinking water, you are indeed providing your body with the hydration it needs, however it is not directly providing hydration to your vocal cords.

When you drink water, it doesn't touch your vocal cords. The water will travel down your oesophagus, into your stomach and eventually hydrate your body indirectly. In the most part this will likely be enough, depending on the amount of water you drink in relation to the amount you sing.

If you’re a singer who performs often, practices every day, has vocal tuition or someone who generally struggles with keeping their vocal mechanism well-lubricated, a more direct route will be better suited to your needs.

Direct Hydration

Direct hydration is a way of getting water directly to your vocal cords by using steam.

By directly inhaling steam, a singer provides their vocal cords with almost immediate hydration, ensuring that this part of the vocal mechanism can effectively and efficiently undertake its required task.

By ensuring your voice is well hydrated, you dramatically reduce the risk of vocal injury, when combined with good technique and the correct guidance. Additionally, steaming will aide your vocal mechanism in recovery from an illness and when struggling with a drier climate or hay fever.

There are several ways to steam. One way is to take a hot a shower, however the amount of steam produced and contained is likely ineffective as well as it being inconvenient and expensive to have a shower three times a day. One simple and effective way is to pour boiling water into a bowl, and inhale the steam produced whilst covering with a towel to contain the steam. This works, although again could be considered a little inconvenient and potentially dangerous if the bowl is knocked.

Most professional singers and vocal coaches would agree that the most effective, efficient, convenient, and safe way to inhale steam is to use a personal steam inhaling device. These are inexpensive, portable and can be used at a time and place that is convenient to you. You can purchase a personal steamer online via Amazon, eBay or often in your local pharmacy. If you are serious about singing, I wouldn’t hesitate in purchasing a steamer and reaping the benefits of regular steaming.

Although not a written rule, steaming can be done for 3 – 5 minutes at a time for up to 3 times a day. This will cause no ill-effect on your voice, and I’m certain once you’ve tried regularly steaming, you’ll wonder why you’ve never explored it before.

A Point Worth Noting

It’s worth noting that steaming is not and should never be a substitute for drinking water. Think of it as an enhancement that provides your vocal cords with the additional lubrication it needs to function at its very best.

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