So I've touched on the act of singing while sick or congested a few times before, and I've even talked about how unhealthy singing can lead to sickness and a sore throat.
But what about the times when your throat is already sore, but your upcoming gig can't be canceled?
I want to share all the good tips I know and have used for singing with this dilemma, as I literally just came from a rehearsal where my throat was bothering me.
Yet, I still made it work, and my voice sounded pretty great, if I do say so myself!
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.
Another great choice for tea is the popular Throat Coat flavor, often rich in medicinal properties that support proper throat 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 are prepping for an upcoming gig, you may only need an hour to go on voice rest. If you are trying to give your voice a chance to breathe in between performances, you could benefit from 60 minutes of voice rest.
UTS Medical Center professionals recommend that for every hour you spend singing or speaking, you will need to give your voice rest for 10 minutes to allow your vocal cords to recover.
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.
If you have an upcoming choir or group performance, you're really in luck because you can pull back without doing much to sacrifice the overall music, which is what I did in a choir rehearsal today.
Related Post: Vocal Rest - When, How, And Why You Should Rest Your Voice
Foods that can fight against inflammation in your throat are also great for your diet. According to Harvard Health, vegetables, including spinach, kale, and collards, are perfect foods for your diet.
Fruits that include cherries, strawberries, and oranges also help to fight against inflammation in your body. Fatty fish, including tuna and salmon, also have anti-inflammatory properties.
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.
While cough drops can do wonders for your voice, they pose a problem for singers that have a sore throat but are still trying to perform their way through it.
Most of the popular menthol candies like Halls and Chloraseptic have the ingredient menthol, which works lovely and all, especially when you're getting over a cold or the flu, but it may not be your best choice before a singing performance.
Menthol is an ingredient that is known to cause dry mouth, which can be a big issue when it comes to singing and speaking. A dry mouth can cause you to have poor diction and a less confident performance.
Thankfully there are several more natural options available out there, like Honey Ginger Lemon Cough Drops by Beekeeper's Natural, that won't have any negative side effects when it comes to your singing voice.
Related Post: Throat Lozenges For Singers - What You Need To Know
Similar to lozenges, throat sprays can help or cause more trouble than it's worth when it comes to singers gearing up for a performance.
You want to make sure your throat spray does not contain alcohol or menthol, which are found in throat sprays for people who have a sore or dry throat from a cold or related sickness.
The good ingredients you want to look for in throat sprays may include water, glycerin, herbs, and other natural-based extracts.
Honey (again) is also a great way to coat your throat and avoid dryness or irritation since it relieves irritation of the mucus membranes in the mouth by forming a protective film.
Throat Lozenges and vocal sprays for those with sore throats also often have a numbing ingredient, which helps ease the pain and discomfort that can come with a sore or irritated throat.
The popular numbing ingredient used in these candies is benzocaine, which you want to avoid as a performer for a reason that isn't known well enough in the singing community, so I want to spread the news!
The numbing isn't anything that is going to damage your voice automatically, but the connection we have with feeling our throats and voicebox while we perform is critical for not overworking our voice, which is referred to as vocal fatigue.
When we overuse our voice by speaking, singing, or shouting for too long a period of time, the muscles in our larynx can get tired and irritated to the point of causing dryness, irritation, and possibly pain.
Vocal Eze is a hydrating throat spray with organic herbs and other natural ingredients that is very popular among singers. It also has honey and glycerin that can help coat your throat and remove the dryness that can come from extended performances.
This spray doesn't include artificial flavors, preservatives, or alcohol. It's the best choice to try first if you want to keep your throat healthy!
Related Post: 7 Of The Best Vocal Sprays For Your Singing Voice
Cold medicine that helps with pain relief with the active ingredient of acetaminophen is often approved by vocal professionals. This particular painkiller doesn't thin your blood or cause you to dry out, and it can help numb that pain without any big effects on your singing.
Vicks DayQuil is a solid choice, but try to avoid nighttime cold medicines, which often have alcohol in them to soothe sick people, but singers don't want that!
There are also a few cold medicines on the market available for children that also are alcohol-free and will keep your vocal passage from getting too dry during your performance.
Pair your sore throat meds with tons of water, and you should be pretty good to go. Remember, don't talk or sing until you absolutely need to.
Related Post: Vocal Steamers - Pros And Cons For Singers
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