Singing with Sickness- What to Do?

Over the weekend I slept poorly, woke up having lost most of my voice, and then went to church to teach music to the children in our congregation for two hours. The result? Absolutely no voice the next day! I can’t remember the last time I lost my voice, and since I am hardly ever ill, I usually enjoy being in full voice all the time. But for those times when I/you ARE sick, what’s a singer to do!?

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  • There’s a difference between being sick, and feeling tired. Should you still come to your voice lesson when you are tired? YES! Because true professionals learn to manage their voices under less than ideal circumstances. Learning how to perform when you’re not feeling 100% is crucial to reducing anxiety and increasing your chances for success.
  • Should you vocalize when you are sick? It depends. With a serious illness like laryngitis or strep throat, absolutely not. If you have a cold that is living in your throat, take it easy. Your vocal cords are already inflamed; vocalizing may cause undue strain on them, risking even greater inflammation.
  • So when should I vocalize if I’m not feeling great? For me, when I woke up with less than my full voice, I worked through some easy exercises, i.e. the lip buzz, sirens on EE and OO, and I used a MM sound to try to re-connect to my chest voice. If you have mild allergies or a head cold, continue with your vocalizing practice.
  • Listen to your body! If something feels uncomfortable or straining, STOP!
  • Stay hydrated, drink herbal tea and honey, suck on some natural cough drops, and rest up! Get some more tips here.
  • Lastly, If you have a gig tonight, and you must sing, there are things you can do to get help. Call your ENT for an emergency prescription for a steroid. However know, that the day after, you will likely have lost your voice and need time to recover.

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