Skip to main content

First things first – don’t panic! Vocal problems are rarely serious or long-term and can usually be solved by getting some rest and checking in with a singing teacher to make sure your vocal technique is as good as it can be. If you think you have a more serious issue, a voice rehabilitation specialist can help signpost you to the right medical care if you are uncertain where to go.

So, what do I do to improve my voice?

That depends on what you are experiencing. For specific advice you should consult a voice rehabilitation specialist and/or a medical practitioner. In the meantime, there are some general voice care principles you can follow.

1.The first thing to do is rest.

This doesn’t necessarily mean total voice rest (that is now rarely recommended unless you are recovering from vocal surgery). However, it does mean reducing your vocal load, especially if you have a sore throat and inflammation. You should also rest your body. Try to ensure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep, as well as limiting your physical exertion in the day. You might find napping or practising meditation or mindfulness useful.


Make sure you are drinking enough throughout the day. Your voice needs your whole system to be hydrated and this comes from drinking plenty of water or warm drinks such as herbal teas. For more topical hydration of the vocal folds, you could use steam. Using a bowl of warm water (being careful not to burn yourself), place a towel over your head to help you inhale the steam. 5-10 minutes of this can be really helpful for keeping the tissues of the larynx hydrated.

3.Nourish your body.

Ensure you are eating well. Prioritise time for balanced, nutritious, homecooked meals with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet. If you are feeling generally unwell, warm bowls of broth, soup or stew can be very restorative.

4.Take active rest in nature.

There is lots of evidence that being outside in nature is good for our minds and bodies. Make time to take a gentle walk outside. If you are feeling up to being more active, activities like yoga or Pilates offer good opportunities for maintaining flexibility.

5.Warm up and cool down your voice.

If you are well enough to continue using your voice then do so gently. Warm up your body, breath and voice daily. Start by stretching your body. Follow this with focus on the breath. And finally, gently begin to warm your voice itself with some SOVTs (Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract Exercises). These can be singing through a straw in water, lip trills, rolled ‘r’s, or puffy cheek exercises. Using these exercises with ascending scale patterns and slides and glides through your range can help keep things moving.

After you have finished your singing or at the end of the day, cool down your voice. You can use the same SOVT exercises with descending slide and glides to cool down. You might also finish this with some vocal steaming for extra hydration.

6.Consider your lifestyle factors.

Our voices are part of us. Biological, psychological and social factors can all impact our vocal health. Take some time to consider whether there are areas of your life causing stress or worry that could be impacting your overall and vocal health. Consider whether other professionals, such as counsellors or career advisors, could also be helpful to you.

7.Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

It can be hard to admit your have a vocal problem. Especially if you rely on your voice for your livelihood. However, vocal health challenges happen to most singers at some point in their lives and careers. There are many different people who can help you. Booking a consultation with a voice rehabilitation specialist can be a good place to start. You can also share your concerns with your current singing teacher, vocal coach or conductor, who may be able to point you in the direction of the most appropriate help.

Is there anything else I should consider?

If you have been having hoarseness or dysphonia for more than 3 weeks, the NHS recommends that you should see your GP for an assessment. They will be able to advise you on whether detailed clinical assessment is necessary. This is very important if you are, or have ever been, a smoker.

Do remember that going to the GP and getting further assessment for a red flag does not necessarily mean there is a biological diagnosis such as cancer or a neurological condition. However, it is important that these serious conditions are ruled out as early as possible and the right course of action determined for your recovery.   

Remember that you are the expert on your voice. If you think something isn’t right then listen to your body and seek further help.