Harmattan is characterised by cold, dry, and dusty air. Cold and coughs are common during this season due to the dry air that is circulating, all these affect our breathing and distort our tone of voice for a short period.

What can we do to make sure that our voice remains healthy during the Harmattan season? Here are some tips:

1. When you are out and about, breath through your nose. The nose traps dust particles and prevents them from getting into your vocal tract.
Breathing through your nose also warms the air before it hits the vocal tract and helps to reduce the effect of dryness due to cold harmattan air.
I. know this is a bit difficult to remember, but it really helps.

2. Drink plenty of water.
When you are dehydrated, your vocal folds are less flexible. You voice becomes  hoarse much more easily. So, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, water, water and lots of water is necessary.

3. Stay warm, drink a lot of warm/hot (non alcoholic) drinks like, herbal teas. They warmth helps keep the vocal folds flexible, dry and cold air reduces that flexibility.
Use herbal teas with no caffeine  (Caffeine dehydrates, it draws the water out of your body) during this season, you want to remain hydrated. So avoid caffeinated drinks.

4. Steam your voice and keep the moisture levels high. Fill a bowl with hot (steaming not boiling) water, lean over it and cover your head with a towel  and breath in the moist air. Does wonders for the Voice. Your voice box was made to be moist. Any form of dryness affects the quality of your voice.

5. Honey is also very good during this season. It helps to soothe a dry and sore throat. Use it on its own or use it with warm/hot water or in your herbal tea.

6.  Last, but not the least, focus a lot on warming up your voice before you sing. Lip trills are excellent ( this exercise takes some pressure off our vocal folds, since some of the air pressure is placed on our lips for them to vibrate.) Humming is  also a good way of warming up.

I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any other tips then please share them.

Keep your voice healthy.
Helen Yawson