Are you fighting a cold, allergies, or something worse? Wondering if you should just avoid singing for the time being? The answer is that you should avoid it while sick if you can.
While singing while sick probably won't do you any harm, the things people tend to do to combat sickness is what can really bring danger to your vocal cords and muscles.
Let's go over a few things you want to be aware of and some things you want to avoid when you're sick and singing.
One of your main problems when it comes to singing while sick will be fighting through the mucus that your body will naturally make to fight back against the sickness you're going through.
Mucus will come out as you sing, possibly ruining your pitch control, breath, and clarity.
Take it from me; I know how it feels to be performing, and a wad of mucus blocks your notes! I can fake my way through it, but it still sucks and takes away from the performance.
Mucus will cause you to want to clear your throat and cough a lot while you sing.
This can suck in during a pandemic when people are quick to look at you funny, but it's not great for singers either since coughing and clearing your throat is not good for you in the long run.
It's better to swallow saliva or drink water to get rid of that mucus.
Another problem you may face when it comes to singing while sick is swelling and inflammation in your throat. This swelling can also affect your range, pitch accuracy, and breathing.
Professional singers who are on tour or doing gigs will go as far as getting steroid injections to combat the swelling. Natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and ginger will likely help if you have access to it.
If you are sick, you may have what can be the worst thing stopping you from singing: a sore throat. If this is the case and it's not a must that you sing, I really recommend that you simply avoid it.
People will understand in many cases, so don't feel like you have to force yourself. A natural throat lozenge will be a good idea but avoid cough drops with menthol since it can dry out your voice.
One thing you don't want to use is a throat-numbing spray! You may be tempted since you'd think it's a good idea, but most of them can also dry out your voice.
In addition to the dryness, it can cause you to overwork your vocal muscles to the point of unhealthy strain without realizing it due to the numbing properties of the medicine.
If you have a gig that you really can't afford to cancel, you can still make this work as long as you aren't super sick!
The first thing you want to do is get plenty of pure water. Honey and tea that is not caffeinated will also be a great idea to help soothe your vocal passage.
Related Post: 6 Best Teas For A Singer's Vocal Health
One major thing you can do to avoid putting your voice through too much damage is to go on complete vocal rest during the times you are not performing or rehearsing. Opt not to talk at all and help your voice get a proper break while you're sick.
If you can, try to sing lighter and with less power in your voice to take it easy. Consider changing the key of your songs to something lower and more accessible that won't cause you to strain your voice.
Get a mic to avoid having to belt out loud notes for the crowd to be able to hear you well.
Rely on background singers to help you get through your song in order to help ease the pressure of good breath support during your performance.
Don't think it's a good time to try to knock out your cold with alcohol! Alcohol can be seriously drying on your voice and cause all the problems you already have to get even more hectic. Also, avoid spicy foods, which can increase your mucus output while you're sick.
Related Post: Do You Sing Better When You Drink Alcohol?
Consider a medicine like Mucinex that has Guaifenesin, which can help decongest you without causing any adverse effects to your voice box.
Zinc is also known to help shorten the time that you are sick with a cold or flu. As I mentioned before, try natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and ginger.
Vocal steamers use distilled or demineralized water vapors to soothe your voice. Using a vocal steamer, humidifier, or even natural steam from your shower can help you to clear out mucus and congestion for a more clear singing voice.
A good old fashion netty pot will come in handy in this case. A fix like this will only take about 10-15 minutes to clear you up, at least temporarily!
Most vocal steamers are portable and great for touring when you're on the road performing. They also tend to be pretty easy to use despite how the packaging can be intimidating.
Some vocal steamers like the Mypurmist brand even come with a hands-free option for you to use while multitasking.
Related Post: The Pros And Cons Of Vocal Steamers
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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