Monday, March 31, 2014

music monday

// recording the Holiday album 2000 //

in the last week alone i've received emails/calls from 2 singer-friends asking for advice regarding sore throats, vocal fatigue and a lost voice.  so, while i'm not an educated instructor or certified coach, i do have 30+ years of experience, and i have lost my voice a time or two.  i thought i'd share a little bit about what i've learned on the subject.

Q: what do i do if i lose my voice?
A: if you lose your voice the very best thing you can do is
*STOP TALKING.  and, i assume it's obvious, but also STOP SINGING.  i suppose it stands to reason that if you've lost your voice, you CANT talk or sing, however i've been appalled by the number of people that love the sound of their own raspy, hoarse voice, and they'll continue to attempt to use it.  you will only worsen your situation by using your vocal chords when they are run-down. they are in need of rest.  note: nearly ALL restaurants are WAY louder than you think. which means you most often talk way louder than you think.  which puts unnecessary strain on your vocal chords.  the same is true with singing along with music in the car (either turn it down or stop singing along) or a party at someones house.  anywhere there are multiple voices being used at the same time, you are, without a doubt, talking several decibels louder than you need to be.  be careful.
another effective technique that helps a lost voice/sore throat enormously is
*STEAM.  if you have access to a steam room or steam shower either at home or a local gym, use it.
it helps with congestion, sore throat and relaxation.   i recently purchased a small, personal steam inhaler (similar to this) for both my daughter and myself.  i've had one for many years and finally had to buy a replacement.  they are small enough to travel with and come in handy for any singer/speaker.
*HOT WATER W/ HONEY is something you can find just about anywhere and it will soothe your pain and relax you.  i avoid tea, coffee, milk and even excessive amounts of lemon when dealing with vocal issues.  keep it plain and simple.
*WATER drink more water than you think you can! find a nice big water bottle and just keep drinking and refilling.  all day. every day.
*SLEEP get as much rest as your schedule will allow.  go to bed earlier than normal (although if you're like me that is still late) if you can, and do whatever it takes to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night.  consider using a humidifier to enhance the moisture level of the room. keep the heat down, and if possible the door open, to help with circulation.  excessive heat usually means excessive dryness, which is not ideal for your voice.  i've found that if my heater is too high i wake up with a scratchy voice.  many a show has been cancelled or postponed due to unstable air conditions on tour buses.
*TIME. there is no quick-fix. as with any injury, time will heal it.  yes these kinds of things throw major wrenches in the wheels of our plans... i've had to cancel shows and postpone projects due to vocal fatigue and sickness.  but God knows your deadline and your time frame.
HE gave you that voice of yours.  be patient. don't rush it.

this is by no means a comprehensive list of treatments, however it should help you if you're hurting. also... everything listed above is perfectly applicable to preventing the loss of your voice.  often, there is nothing we can do to stop it, especially when dealing with a cold or virus.  sometimes our bodies just shut things down to fight sickness off.  that is a clear sign that you need rest and quiet.  but you can prevent hoarseness or soreness often just with some good vocal hygiene and positive habits.