It’s that time of the year when extremes in climate as well as an increase in pollen invites colds, allergies, and similar challenges that compromise your ability to sing effectively.
Some daily practices that work to ensure good health are obvious but bear repeating because they will strengthen your immune system and overall sense of well being, and will minimize the impact of a cold, flu, or allergies. These include: adequate sleep, a proper diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, daily exercise, daily vocal warm ups, and good hygiene that includes frequent hand washing. These are great preventive measures that minimize the likelihood of getting a cold.
Minimizing stress through exercise, mediation, positive thinking, and a balanced routine of work and play is also vital to promoting good health. But there are times when you will be under the weather, and it just might happen during times of increased anxiety or stress over a major audition, showcase, or studio gig that you feel is a critical move for your singing success.
Through Sickness Into Health
So what can you do if you know you’re coming down with a cold, and it’s a few days before a gig or a critical audition? To lessen the impact that a cold has on your voice must take action quickly. But remember that cold medications most often contain antihistamines and decongestants. These help to dry up congestion, the very thing produced by the body to help get rid of toxins.
Hydrate To Liquidate
These medications also dry out mucous membranes such as your vocal folds, which can lead to hoarseness and losing your voice. So, always drink extra water when using them because of their drying properties.
In fact, the increase in fluids will help your body with the cleansing process. Water and natural fresh-squeezed juices will help to thin the congestion and keep your vocal folds moistened while flushing toxins from your body. Also, supplements that include water-based vitamins like C and B complex are recommended. In addition, Brett Manning Studios offers a wide variety of vocal health products. Just email Keith at booking (at) singingsuccess.com for more info!
No Clearing – No Coughing
One common symptom of a cold that will irritate the vocal colds is persistent coughing and clearing the throat clearing the throat. Your voice gets scratchy and tight because the membranes in and around the larynx swell and stiffen. If you find yourself about to clear your throat, take a deep breath in over your cords and yawn to release the tension in the throat.
Gargling with warm salt water will help to minimize irritation while inhaling steam will help to loosen up congestion and soothe the vocal folds. Teas with honey can help to soothe aching muscles.
Rest – Sleep
To help minimize coughing when you sleep, use a few pillows to help raise your head so that fluids drain away from your cords more easily. Therefore, your breathing condition will stay easy and you will feel the need to cough less.
Rest and sleep are vital, even if that means skipping rehearsals, in those few days before a critical audition or key performance. On the day of the event, mentally prepare yourself as you also engage in some light exercise and stretching.
When It’s Showtime
It’s not the best idea to sing right after you get a cold or flu, but in many cases, it can’t be avoided. So remember to increase hydration and get lots of rest. Remember that your immune system is your body’s best defense mechanism when you’re sick, and medications will generally impede your ability to sing because of their drying properties.
Keep room temperature water handy when singing. Though it’s tempting to indulge ice-cold water and juices, they will cause your voice to be less elastic and prevent you from hitting all of the notes in your range because they restrict the vocal folds.
Warm It Up
To keep things supple and to help reduce swelling, it’s important to gently warm up the voice. Don’t push or force volume or range. Begin with humming and simple lip rolls. If you rush the warm up you can impede the recovery process.
For an hour before a show or audition gently warm up your voice. Gradually run through scales, humming and using lip rolls. If you notice your voice is starting to weaken or tighten, take a break and then, engage the gentle warm up process again. Don’t force yourself to sing loudly in order to open your cords.
When you’re getting over a cold, the flu, or are fighting allergies your hearing may be impaired due to the stuffiness in the sinuses and ears. So, make sure you can clearly hear your voice through the monitors and that they’re well balanced.
Give It A Rest
Rest your voice. Just speak when necessary. Try to write notes if want to inform something in advanced. Listen more, talk less, and nod or shake your head. Try to find alternative ways to communicate. But avoid whispering.
Do not eat food after four hours before going to bed. If you do, it encourages the likelihood of acid reflux. When stomach acid gets forced up into your throat while you’re sleeping, it can cause some minor to major throat burning. If repeated acid reflux is left unchecked, it can cause serious damage.
Cut The Spice
During a cold or flu, many people indulge spicy foods to loosen phlegm. Remember that spicy foods can also burn your throat and hurt your higher vocal notes. These spicy foods can also contribute to acid reflux in some people. So, minimize your intake of spicy foods especially in the days before a performance or critical audition.
To be on the safe side, see your doctor to help with recovery and prevention of further irritation. And always get to a doctor if you sense you may have lesions or nodes on your cords.
Feed The Forums
Share your tips for fighting colds and allergies with others in the SingingSuccess.TV forums found here: http://www.singingsuccess.tv/forums/. Talk about your challenges when singing while you’ve been under the weather. What are contributing factors that you have found that help you with recovery or with performing while not feeling up to speed. What are some things to avoid that you have found that clearly make you more susceptible to colds and even potential vocal strain. Be sure to engage in a daily warm up and daily exercises through our product offerings as part of your preventive measures.
Clips For Tips
There are a number of video clips here at SingingSuccess.TV that focus on how to sing when you’re under the weather. Check out Master Vocal Coach Chris Keller’s clip on: Singing After A Cold. Vocal coach, Evie Lewis Williams also offers advice in her clip: Singing Through A Cold. And the master, Brett Manning, sets the record straight in his clip: Singing On A Bad Day.
Prevention is obviously the best track to run on a daily basis. But there will be times when you’re under the weather, but the show must go on. With a sensible approach and a finely-tuned instrument to properly play with care, you will bounce back with resilience down a clear path that leads to your singing success.