As with any profession, the more experience gained, the more knowledge possessed. After seventeen years of working as a professional vocalist, I have picked up quite a few tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy voice. Singer Sundays is my means of passing on this information and hoping it will serve useful to those who enjoy sharing the gift of vocal music.
Stress is a factor that affects many of us, and the effects of stress are generally negative. This is especially true when singing. A high percentage of people hold stress in their neck, shoulders, and back which greatly impacts vocal cord and jaw tension. A good massage is a definite solution to some of this stress, but there are times when a massage cannot be booked or cannot be afforded. Ibuprofen is another go-to for a quick fix when muscle tension is negatively impacting the voice, but this can be a dangerous fix because it masks the fatigue or hoarseness in the voice, allowing a vocalist to sing over the strain (often incorrectly) and cause further vocal damage. A natural remedy I have found to ease shoulder and neck tension is Lavender Essential Oil. It is a staple in my gig bag. If I am feeling muscle tension and strain, and it is affecting my voice then I dab a few drops on the back of my neck and shoulders and in a few minutes I feel the tension easing. Lavender oil works double duty by also serving as a calming remedy so if performance anxiety is a problem and is causing nerve tension then lavender will calm the nerves as well as relax your muscles.
Note: not all oils are created equal. A higher grade oil will contain a high percentage of pure lavender oil and be less diluted. The cost will be more expensive, but the results will be more obvious. When buying lavender oil, inquire as to the purity, whether there are other oils blended in, and the amount of dilution.