I got this question from an elite singer.
“Is it true that if you drink olive oil, you can sing with a better/smoother voice?”
Although, I am often asked this kind of question… this question could have quite possibly been influenced from Luciano Pavarotti, who is famous for proclaiming that he used to drink olive oil to help his voice.
I’ve investigated whether olive can reach the vocal cord or not.
We use swallowing to bring liquids and solids to the esophagus and the stomach. Therefore, if we drink olive oil, the thyroid cartilage goes up, the epiglottis blocks the throat and stops the food from going to the vocal cord and the bronchi. So, it is impossible that olive oil, when swallowed, can reach the vocal cord directly.
Can olive oil reach to the vocal cord as a volatile? This is impossible too, because the olive oil does not volatilize. Gasoline and essential oil are generally volatile, cocking oil and olive oil are non-volatile.
It’s not true that olive oil or any oil substances, when swallowed, leaves or creates a film on the pharynx or vocal cord which could protect it. Through my research studies, I have found oily substances do not protect or make the voice any better.
If your vocal cord is covered by an oily film, the vocal cord will get heavier, worsening the vocal fold vibrations when singing. Besides the above statements, an oily film can lead to a cough or excess sputum.
In conclusion, drinking olive oil does not have a positive effect on the voice.
It is common that many people believe myths and old wives tales about ingesting certain liquids and foods to increase performance of the body, this is one of those instances.
What kind of voice do you want… such as an attractive voice, bright voice or alluring voice?
Actually, we tend to judge an image of a person by the voice rather than by what they say.
First, we have to analyze and know the characteristics about our voice.
The voice usually has inherent characteristics, such as the shape of thyroid cartilage, vocal folds and hyoid bone.
You can change the these shapes. Mainly the size, thickness and length.
For example, the ukulele sounds different than the acoustic guitar. The materials are the same to produce sound, but their size are completely different from each other.
Vocalization is similar to sports. The voice is made by moving muscles, which includes the vocal cords, so you can make your voice better or worse depending on those moving muscles.
When comparing vocalization to sports, flexibility and muscular power are vital.
I know that Japanese people do not have good flexibility on their throats, since I investigated and am also Japanese.
Of course this is not a disease or deformity, just an extra strain on the throat when singing.
For many Japanese people it is hard to let out their voice as much as they desire.
When you do not speak so often the muscles of the throat are really relaxed, then when you do vocalize you end up straining the muscles of the throat right away.
Conversely, some people already have flexible muscles on their throats innately.
These people find it easy to let out their voice, because they can move the muscles of the throat actively – and this is inherent.
People with inherent flexibility have a good voice, and can let out a good voice without even thinking.
There are so many different preferences about what an attractive voice is. Keep in mind that the absolute best voice does not exist.
I’ve fount out that favorite voice preferences are different from person to person. Deciding your preference depends on what you are seeking. The main purpose of vocalization is communication. I’ve also investigated what kind of voice is preferred depending on the gender.
I have found favorite voice qualities are different when I surveyed the opposite sex and the same sex.
When a woman likes a woman’s voice=>Carrying voice, Clear voice.
When a man likes a woman’s voice=>Silky voice, cute voice.
When a man likes a man’s voice=>Strong voice, echoing voice.
When a woman likes a man’s voice=>Deep voice, low voice
When singing, most people like clear high-pitched voices.
Women seek clarity and softness in other women’s voices. Women seek masculinity in a man’s voice. Whereas, men seek superiority and strength in other men’s voices. Men generally seek softness and femininity in a woman’s voice. These are the findings presently from the ‘Voice Preference Survey’ per the above results.
Let me inform you of an issue I refer to as, ‘description syndrome.’
The word ‘description’ refers to describing by quoting or reading something aloud, such as a speech or manuscript. A syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms that are observed in, and characteristics of a single condition. The underlying condition and symptoms are generally pathogenetically related.
There are no issues when having a daily conversation, but problems are clearly evident when reading aloud. Such problems and issues can be recognized as a feeling of choking, the voice does not echo, difficulty speaking smoothly, and struggling to let out or produce high-pitched sounds.
This is not a disease. That is why if you go to the Otological hospital, a doctor will usually diagnose and observe that you have no visible problem with your throat.
I’ve examined the throats of many announcers who are newscasters on TV stations as wells as radio stations, ranging from amateurs to professionals. Surprisingly, everyone I have examined with this specific issue states, “I always feel nervous before reading scripts.”
However, the degree of nervousness varies from person to person. This degree fluctuates and depends on the size of the audience and length of the script or speech.
I believe the reason to be, because of the combined mental and physical attributes of extreme anxiety/nervousness and ‘larynx deep positioning.’ The larynx is located deep in the throat, and when the muscles of larynx are not working (similar to hypertonic phonation) or moving properly, such as increased uplifting movements of the omohyoid muscle and/or the sternohyoid muscle, straining of the stylopharyngeus muscle and/or the stylohyoid muscle, and the hardening of the pharyngeal constrictors, such issues lead to larynx deep positioning.
Although, the pharyngeal constrictors are mostly related to swallowing, when these muscles harden, it causes adverse effects to the voice.
Furthermore, the thyroid cartilage is expanding in the throat. In the case of larynx deep positioning visually ‘in women’ the Adam’s apple looks hollow, whereas ‘in men’ the Adam’s apple appears almost invisible.
If you read aloud a script with status of the larynx in a deep position, the muscles will get harder and make it a struggle for the throat to move smoothly. This hardening will cause narrowing of the pharyngeal cavity, which produces sounds.
I advise practicing reading the script aloud to enhance comfort and ease. Make a mark on the script or point to places to take breaths rhythmically and precisely. Focusing on good breathing techniques will boost a smoother delivery of words, making the voice sound clearer. I also recommend using intonation in the voice to express stressed words when quoting or reading aloud. Expressing intonation not only holds the audience, but more importantly allows the audience to feel emotionally connected to the speaker’s message.
A dry throat or cough is common with description syndrome, because the thyroid cartilage, the hyoid bone and the cricoid cartilage get in deep. The space narrows between thyroid cartilage and the hyoid bone, impairing the blood circulation and reducing the amount of fluid in the throat. Try to stay hydrated and take cough drops in advance to reading scripted words before presenting them.
If you are excessively coughing, more then likely your vagus nerve is being pressed by the cricoid cartilage.
The resolution is as follows;
(1)Reduce the tension of larynx.
(2)Keep flexibility on the larynx.
(3)The position of larynx moves forward.
(4)Breath and do not strain. Then you can let out the voice easily.
Note:There are individual variables regarding the effect and outcome achieved.
If you keep in mind the above sequence and follow properly, your Adam’s apple will appear bigger on the throat and coughing will be reduced.
Being aware and informed of description syndrome symptom’s and treatments can lead to displayed improvement and help curb some of the recognizable characteristics when quoting and reading aloud in front of audiences.
The following figures below, show the ‘omohyoid muscle.’ Which is a flat muscle, located at the front of the neck, that belongs to the infrahyoid muscle group. This muscle moves significantly when straining.
When I measured the degree and total amount of movement (see images below) this muscle displays, it was approximately 0.6inches and the muscle became straight. Although, when the muscle is relaxed it became bent. I observed the omohyoid muscle was swollen when moving up.
Furthermore, the muscle hardened double and the laryngeal prominence appeared slightly indented.
This phenomenon makes the performance of vocalization decline. In turn, causing a hoarse voice and narrowing in the space of each resonance chamber, producing a thick voice.
This process and outcome is very similar to a hypertonic voice.
The solution is to create more flexible muscles, when relaxing by initiating only a pinpoint stretch when straining.
The conglutination, which is located between the sternocleidomastoid and the omohyoid muscle, is also equally important.
The sternohyoid muscle(2) lifts up the hyoid bone assisting in swallowing and vocalizing. This role is the same with the omohyoid muscle(1).
This vector movement can be described as large.
The following picture shows where these muscles are located in the throat.
(3)The thyrohyoid muscle and the sternothyroid muscle.
The sternocleidomastoid diverges from the sternal head and the clavicular head. The omohyoid muscle diverges from the epigastrium and the abdomen.
Innervation then occurs. This is the same with the sternocleidomastoid muscle, which diverges from the accessory nerve and the cervical nerves. The omohyoid muscle diverges from the cervical nerves and the hypoglossal nerve.
In conclusion the omohyoid muscle secures the hyoid bone, pulling down the larynx and therefore is a vital muscle used in the process of swallowing and eating.
However, be aware if you strain or use these muscles too much or excessively it will surely cause adverse effects to the voice.
I’ll report the most important thing about the external laryngeal muscle, which is in regards to swallowing and eating.
It is a fact that, ‘you cannot swallow food when the mouth is open.’
This means that the epiglottis does not move properly and the food remains in the piriform recess.
Follow these steps to improve your swallowing.
(1)As preparation, stretch and massage the digastric muscle and the stylohyoid muscle gently.
(2)Open the mouth slowly, pulling the hyoid bone precisely.
(3)Move the epiglottis to the right position.
(4)Close the mouth and try to swallow again.
It is better to swallow before stretching of the vocal muscles.
“(1)” Is the most important, because this step improves the movement of muscles for swallowing.
There are two types of ways and reasons why, an individual closes their eyes when vocalizing high-pitch sounds.
(1)Closing of the eyes during a performance as an emotional effect or reaction/feeling to the song
(2)Closing of the eyes because it is hard to let out the voice
The main question is whether you close your eyes consciously or unconsciously.
I can identify which category your fall into if I carefully listen and visually observe your singing.
An important point most vocalists want to achieve, is that their singing can impress an audience.
If you want to impress people, you must display “(1)Closing the eyes as an emotional effect during a performance.”.
In the case of (1) which is closing the eyes consciously, an audience generally feels more comfortable when listening to the song.
(2) Is the case when the eyes are closed unconsciously. This happens when a vocalist cannot completely control high-pitch sounds, by not even realizing or thinking they will close their eyes.
The reason why they close their eyes is because they are afraid of making high-pitch sounds, or lacking confidence in their voice.
The also can be explained in terms of physiology.
Such as, when people feel afraid. When feeling afraid the head’s skin is moved by the frontalis muscle and the occipitalis muscle, in turn making the eyes close.
This is common and happens often unconsciously when singing. People who can control the high-pitched sounds they produce are not feeling afraid so easily or lacking confidence, and do not close their eyes.
Therefore, if you can focus on improving the control you have with your voice when singing high-pitched sounds, you will not unconsciously close your eyes so often anymore when vocalizing.
Note1:This is same concept as shaking of the body unconsciously when letting out high-pitch sounds.
Note2:It is okay to close your eyes for short periods of time when singing ballads, rock or pop music. It is not appropriate and sometimes even frowned upon to close your eyes when singing opera or classic style songs. The only time it is appropriate is periodically and consciously during an emotional part of a performance.
I’ll teach you a training exercise to help in avoiding closing of the eyes.
1:Open your eyes widely.
2:Lift up your eyebrows simultaneously.
3:Keep your eyebrows up high, followed by up in the middle high state and put some muscle into it. These muscle movements are similar just reversed to when closing the eyelids tight.
4:You can blink of course, but no need to close your eyes.
5:Sing a song for only 3 to 5 minutes with above conditions.
You can train like this once per day. In front of a mirror if you like, to watch yourself to see if you close your eyes. This is only temporary training until the issue is fixed, and not meant to be incorporated into your permanent vocal training schedule.
Please use discretion and do not work too hard because you could hurt your muscles, making this training exercise less effective.