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ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Harmful Elements and Foods to Eliminate or Avoid

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Different people have different
reactions to different foods.
However, there is a, we could call a
standard no list for
singers in terms of foods and beverages,
and classes of food that most commonly
gunk up our voice or
ruin the ability of the vocal folds to
function well for us.
That was a strong word, ruin, but frankly
it's true.
So I have a few things out here on my
table, and
the first has to do with dairy.
So this is cream cheese, which on the
cheese list is gonna be the worst.
There are certain nutritionists that have
done a lot of studying on dairy, and
in particularly milk and
the human body, and they don't have such
good things to say about it.
For us, the most important thing is what
kinds of
nutritional aspects might we put into our
body that will create
a lot of phlegm and make it more
difficult, or make it very difficult for
the vocal folds to vibrate and give us a
good foundation of sound.
I've worked with so many singers at this
point who have had you know,
drunk some milk and then gone into the
recording studio and
they're hacking it up the whole way
And it wastes time, it wastes money, they
don't get the best result from their
voice, and it's just time, dreams, and
money wasted.
So that's just an example but as a rule,
milk and cheese tend to be on the, high on
the no list.
Some years ago I would eat cheese and
immediately [COUGH] clearing my throat,
clearing my throat.
My body got more tolerant of cheese and I
can eat it now when it's not
warmed up you know, and melted and not be
so gunky.
But I just avoid it when I know that I'm
going to be singing or
when I'm preparing for a concert or any
kind of performance.
I just knock it out of my diet,
not that I eat much cheese anyway anymore
but I make sure that I just don't.
Cheese, when it's melted, is way more
Somehow it does something to the fat
content that's in the cheese so
it makes it the, the mucus get formed much
faster, and it gets much thicker.
Just a little added thing about it if
you're going to have any cheese,
definitely stay away from melted cheese
when you're gonna be singing.
And that doesn't mean all the time but you
know, sometimes it takes the body like
days to clear out something that was
problematic to it.
So it's not just like you eat it and you
know, it only has an effect for
a few minutes.
It can last and take a while to clear it
out of your system, so if you're
working on your voice, and you're, you,
you do want to have results and
notice the difference, I suggest that you
stay clear of dairy.
And yes that often means ice cream and
that means pizza and not just milk or
So there are some wonderful substitutes
like soy milk or
almond milk which has way more nutrients
in it and way more protein actually,
and it's much easier for the body to
assimilate and utilize that protein.
Another thing is bananas.
Bananas are a great source of potassium.
I love them but they do tend to make the
voice very mucusy.
So if you eat a banana, it's
usually it's not the kind of phlegm that
takes a while to work out of the body.
I would just stay clear of it on
within a several hour period prior to
doing your vocalizing,
prior to singing songs, doing a gig,
anything like that.
The next thing has to do with a certain
type of fruit which is citrus.
I love it.
However, citrus tends to have a more
acidic content to it,
and that can create acid in the actual
membranes of the vocal folds.
So I'm not saying stay clear of it unless
you happen to be a person who
notices that when you have something
citrus that the,
there's a reaction that lasts for a while.
It can make a certain tension in your
vocal folds, that acidic content.
And so again if you're just playing it
stay clear of citrus nearing singing by at
least a few hours.
Next thing has to do with caffeine and I
will admit, that I like it.
But I have very little usually a half a
cup or less.
I don't put any dairy in it.
I like actually drinking it strong and
black, and then that's it for
the rest of the day.
I never have caffeine and I have never
when I drank, used to drink more coffee.
I would totally stay clear of caffeine
within three hours minimum
prior to a rehearsal, vocalizing or a
So I'm not saying you have to knock it out
unless you find
that it creates other problems for you.
If you happen to have something called
acid reflux,
this can create a real problem for
a vocalist because the acid gets sucked
down the breathing tube and
it burns the surface of your vocal folds
so it can feel burny.
You can find yourself coughing with some
regularity through the day.
Your voice will feel stiff and it won't,
it'll be really tough
to get it agile, flexible through
vocalizing, warm ups and stuff.
Doctors like prescribing a variety of
different kinds of medicine however a lot
of times that medicine is not necessary
and what is, is changing your diet.
There's a few other emotional aspects
that'll cover that in a moment that,
that also can cause the stomach to not
be able to digest the food well and
instead turns things acidic and shoves it,
the acid, back up in, into your breathing
But at any rate the the easiest thing to
do to handle it,
although it can take some discipline is to
eliminate caffeine, eliminate citrus or
anything that's acidic in food which would
include raw tomatoes.
But you can usually eat cooked tomatoes
cuz it
tends to make them more alkaline which is
the opposite of acid, and
eliminate dairy, and try to not mix
certain foods.
For example, you can have starch with
vegetables but not with meat, because they
cancel each other out and
you end up getting too much acid in the
stomach, or you can have fruit by itself.
Don't mix it with other foods, because
fruit gets digested very quickly.
[LAUGH] This is turning into a whole
nutritional thing okay.
All right, the next
thing has to do with Salute wine.
I'm not saying you can't drink wine or
alc, any alcohol, however,
alcohol takes 24 hours to get out of the
And you flush it out by drinking enough
Why is that important?
So alcohol, does a few different things.
The first, is that it can create a certain
amount of stiffness in the voice.
And, if you wanna hear, or have your voice
sound a certain way,
that stiffness will usually not be the way
that you're gonna get the,
the sound, or the fullness, and you'll end
up pushing into it.
Now if you get, if you sing when you're,
when you've just had some alcohol,
it will also raise the the temperature of
your body.
And if it's cold outside,
all the mucous membranes kind of open up
after you've had alcohol.
You go outside in the cold it's very easy
to pick up a cold.
That's another reason.
Finally, if you've had passed a certain
amount to drink, and
I'm talking not much,.
It can deaden your perceptivity
of how much effort are you using in
working your voice.
And it becomes very easy to over,
what could be called over sing, or use
muscle manipulation and force.
Whereas, if you hadn't had any alcohol,
you wouldn't, you,
you wouldn't do that and you would notice
and find the right muscle balance to use.
By using too much force, this will create
what I call vocal blowout.
Vocal blowout is where the, the muscles of
the voice have been really pushed.
And by the way, this is totally different
than ultimately than singing rock or
singing real aggressive forms of music,
there's ways of doing it where you can get
the same aggressivity, the same kind of
rasp or whatever, but not hurt your voice.
Alcohol really makes it difficult to do
and oh I know a lot of people like to have
a drink before they sing because they
feel really inhibited and they find that
it allows them to feel more comfortable,
but really what's happening there, you're
blocking yourself, and
instead of developing your ability to
command your audience and
stay in control, you're using a vice.
And your singing will never be to the
fullest extent it can be.
Your performance will never be to really
the, to the dynamic that it could be.
So let's work on getting you, if you
happen to have stage fright,
we will work on getting you confident and
comfortable, and able to be on stage
without the need to cover up your fear by
Okay, now we're gonna cover a few other
One is cigarettes and the other is smoking
Cigarettes and pot have heat in the dirty
smoke that you inhale.
This penetrates the surface, the mucous
membranes of your vocal folds.
Pot is more so than cigarettes.
But both of them tend to burn
the inner rim of both vocal folds as you
inhale that.
And then, as you exhale it.
It embeds on the bottom side of your vocal
This tends to make them swell.
It makes, it puts disruptions in the mucus
membrane and
affects the muscles so that instead of
them being able to work really smoothly,
they start tensing up, stiffening up.
They can't close properly and this affects
a lot of aspects of vocal development.
When I did a certain amount of research
that I'm
imparting to you now on all of this, it
was some years ago.
And I did it because I started recognizing
a trend in people that I was coaching.
The trend was that anyone who didn't smoke
either substances, their range was
growing, their voice was getting flexible,
their tone was expanding and with it, of
their confidence as a singer, which in
turn helps your creativity.
Those people who smoked pot, or smoked
cigarettes and
especially pot, I couldn't get their range
to grow.
And it, it was terrible.
I mean, first of all, I feel like I wasn't
giving them what they came to achieve.
And I couldn't understand why my method
wouldn't work for them in that regard.
And I started asking people, okay, who are
the ones who are doing well?
They're the ones that don't smoke
And who are the ones that I'm having,
running into barriers with?
And it was always and only those who are
smoking pot or, or cigarette smokers.
There's something called a what do they
call that?
The cigarette voice, or something like
that, I can't remember,
maybe you know the name of it or the title
of it.
But, as a person gets older, this constant
cigarette smoking starts changing your
voice to this really kind of
you can always tell somebody who is a
smoker after they've smoked for
some years, their voice totally changes
and that creates a barrier.
You know, if you want to sing and have a
certain style, and
then you wanna be a, a versatile singer,
you can't.
And under those conditions.
It just put, puts walls around you in your
creativity and
your sense of freedom of expression.
There are other singers who have found
that they've developed
situations with their voice that have
meant they've had to get operations and
what-not you may have read a recent
article about Adele and
the problems that she went through, and
she had been a really heavy smoker.
That is one of the reasons why these
problems exist.
So I don't wanna give you scare stories,
but if you happen to be a smoker,
if you happen to smoke pot, and you really
want to excel as a singer,
this is something to have a heart to heart
discussion with your self on.
And see what you can do to eliminate any
to what otherwise can be a glorious ride
forward, an expansion as a singer.