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Aromatherapy for the Voice

1. Encourages deeper breathing.


Put a drop of essential oil on a tissue or handkerchief, carry it in your pocket and inhale as necessary. Start paying
attention to the effect different oils have on your mood (every person is different), and use those discoveries to your
advantage.
Try this exercise: inhale the scent through your nose, then exhale on mmmmmma a ah down the scale. Take
your time. The scent will remind you to breathe, stay alert and keep your face and eyes bright. Perhaps youll even find
that different scents inspire different vocal tones!
RECOMMENDED OILS FOR SINGING PRACTICE: any oil whose scent you enjoy. Popular oils are lavender, rose, jasmine, or
any of the citrus oils, such as sweet orange or grapefruit.
2. Helps clear excess phlegm and speed recovery when youre sick.
I have to confess that, since becoming involved in aromatherapy, some part of me actually looks forward to getting sick,
because I use the time to treat myself with these remedies!
STEAM INHALATION: One of the best remedies for a sinus headache. Bring a pot of water to boil, add 3-5 drops of
essential oil (only 1-2 drops if its your first time), and remove from heat. Cover your head with a towel, and lean over
the bowl, breathing deeply for a couple of minutes. If your eyes are sensitive to the heat, press the towel against them.
Steam blend for when youre sick, but need to go out and face the world:
2 drops lavender, 1 drop clove, 1 drop tea tree or eucalyptus
For a preventative measure, try this Immunity Massage Blend (from The Aromatherapy Companion by Victoria
Edwards): 6 drops lavender, 6 drops bergamot, 3 drops tea tree in 2 oz of carrier oil
If you already feel a sore throat coming on, massage your neck and lymph nodes with a high dilution of sandalwood or
lavender (a drop of sandalwood to a drop of carrier oil), drink lots of water, and take a long nap. Works like a charm!
RECOMMENDED OILS FOR COLD AND FLU: lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, clove, ginger, thyme, cedarwood. Eucalyptus
inspires deeper breathing, while cedarwood clears excess phlegm.

3. Promotes relaxation, releasing the muscles of the face and neck


One of the most enjoyable ways to benefit from aromatherapy is through massage. While professional massages are
unbeatable, self-massage is free and has many similar benefits.
BASIC MASSAGE OIL: 1-5 drops (1-2 for the face) essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
RECOMMENDED OILS FOR FACE AND NECK: rosewood, frankincense, cedarwood, neroli, petitgrain, cypress, jasmine,
lavender, marjoram, patchouli, rose, sandalwood
HEAD AND NECK MASSAGE FOR SINGERS
With dry hands or a small amount of oil, start by massaging in a small circular motion along the sides of the
nose. Next, press lightly into the sinuses at the sides of the nose, moving out toward the cheekbones and breathing in
deeply each time through the nose. Work upward between the eyes and up to the middle of the forehead. From there,
massage lightly along the brow ridge until you reach the temples. Massage lightly across the temples, working down to
the muscles at the top of the jaw and around the ears. Make sure your jaw, lips and tongue are relaxed. Pinch the
muscles all along the jawbone toward your chin.
Next, using the pads of your thumbs, press lightly into the soft space under your jaw and chin, making sure the
base of the tongue is relaxed. From there, use your opposite hand to massage the opposite sides of your neck, all the
way from the ear to the collarbone. Carefully use your fingers to very lightly budge your larynx from side to side. Finish
with an invigorating scalp massage, as you like it.
For a variation: try this massage while singing your warm-up exercises. You might discover facial tension you never
realized you had!
4. Increases confidence and helps you get into character for a performance.
Many people nowadays have taken to using beta-blockers, Valium, or even alcohol to help them relax before a
performance. While beta-blockers may be a helpful temporary solution for those with severe and chronic stage fright,
essential oils are safe, non-invasive and non-addictive. And have I mentioned yet that they smell great?
One of the ways I calm pre-performance anxiety is by building associations around a scent. I first noticed this when I
realized that sandalwood, more than any other oil, had a pronounced calming effect on my nerves whenever I used it, to
the point of banishing performance anxiety. After pondering this, I realized that Ive used it so often when praying,
meditating and practicing yoga that I associate it with peace and relaxation.
Essential oils that boost confidence and the spark the imagination: jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood
(Is it telling that these same oils are considered aphrodisiacs?)
Essential oils that are calming and grounding: frankincense, lavender, benzoin, neroli, marjoram, patchouli
Pulse point blends: dilute the following blends in 1 tsp of carrier oil, then rub into wrists, just under ears, and backs of
the knees.
For creativity and confidence: 3 drops jasmine and 2 drops patchouli
To ease fear and anxiety (I always take this on plane rides!): 5 drops lavender and 2 drops frankincense

5. Aids in meditation, inspires creativity, song-writing and interpretation


You can practice virtually every form of aromatherapy (air diffusion, perfume, bath, steam inhalation, etc.) with a single
essential oil, but blending creates a synergistic effect among oils and is a fun creative challenge. When I set about
creating a blend, I first consider its purpose. That will help me determine a list of potential oils, usually no more than 4-6.
I make sure I have a good array of top, middle and bottom notes, and from there I follow my nose. I also conserve
precious oils by dipping a Q-tip into the bottles one at a time, and then shuffling the Q-tips around until I find the right
combination. From there its a matter of adjusting each oils strength. Its best to begin by mixing no more than 2 oils,
eventually moving on to blends of 3 or 4.

6. As an aid to memorization.
Place a drop of essential oil on a tissue, and then tuck it into a plastic protective sheet (the kind that come in many
binders) along with your sheet music. When you pull it out to practice, the scent will provide some continuity from
session to session. You can wear the same scent on your performance day to help re-ignite your memory. And who
knows, with these techniques you mind find practicing to be less and less of a chore!
Memory Synergistic Blend (from Valerie Ann Worwoods the Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy) 8 drops
basil, 10 drops grapefruit, 7 drops lavender, 5 drops rosemary
RECOMMENDED OILS FOR MEMORY AND CONCENTRATION: rosemary, basil, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, grapefruit

Equipment and Resources


Essential oils are like clothes; while you only need one or two outfits to get by, its so tempting to buy new ones because
each purchase increases your mixing and matching potential exponentially. Still, I recommend resisting the temptation
and starting with a single oil (lavender is especially versatile), or perhaps choosing one from each family (floral, woody,
citrus, etc.). Buy essential oils in person if you can, where you can sniff them out. Some are more immediately pleasing
than others, but youll find your appreciation of natural fragrances will develop with exposure over time.
For making your own blends, you will need at the very least essential oils, eyedroppers, and a small glass bowl or amber
glass bottles for mixing. Additionally, youll want a carrier oil (a vegetable oil like apricot or grapeseed) in which to dilute
the essential oils if you plan on applying them to the skin.
Really the only reliable test for making sure that an essential oil is real (rather than diluted with other less expensive
varieties, or heaven forbid, synthetic fragrance!), is a trained nose. Still, there is a lot you can do to help ensure youre
buying the real thing:

Only buy oils listed as 100% pure, undiluted essential oil from reputed, certified sellers. A good seller can
provide you with information on the oils variety, country of origin, expiration date and distillation method.
Some of my favorite companies include Aura Cacia, SunRose Aromatics, Aromatics International, and Natures
Gift.
Research a little to find the average price of an oil. Essential oils can range in price from $5 (lemon) to $130
(rose). Be especially wary of great deals on the finer oils; price is often the most telling sign of quality.
Check the Latin names to make sure youre buying the right oil. Its common for them to be mislabelled, and
different varieties have different uses (e.g. pine oil: pinus sylvestris has many uses, while pinus pumilio is
hazardous)
Read up on the safety information of each oil before buying. Some oils available in stores (such as cinnamon or
wintergreen) are toxic enough to be best left on the shelf.

Book Recommendations
The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, by Valerie Ann Worwood
This really is the most comprehensive collection of instructions, recipes and creative applications of aromatherapy that
Ive found. While mainly a reference guide, I find Worwoods writing personable enough that I actually sat and read this
one from cover to cover. The only thing it lacks is an in-depth description of each oil.
The Complete Aromatherapy Tutor, by Joanna Hoare
This book fills in the gaps of the previous one. The information inside is similar to what you would find in an actual
aromatherapy course (everything from plant biology and distillation methods to the various systems of the human
body), described with full-color diagrams and photography. The index of essential oils is especially helpful, and I often
make use of the blends well with recommendations.