How To Sing When You Have a Cold
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- 3 min
Black Rain Sky's lead singer Blake Feehan is also a professional vocal coach. He deals with students singing while they have a cold, and is sometimes, himself, faced with singing with a cold. If you are feeling sick, the best thing to do is cancel the gig. However, if this is not possible, here are some tips for singing if you are sick.
Rest, rest, rest!
If you have a gig in the evening, then get as much rest as you can the night and morning before. Your voice is your instrument. If you are tired, then your vocal muscles will not be able to produce their best possible sound.
Hydrate Before the Gig
Drink room temperature or warm water as often as you can in order to keep your throat muscles hydrated. This will keep your voice from being startled or stressed by cold temperatures. Try to avoid coffee or tea as they will dry your voice out. If you have one, try using a humidifier while you sleep, and even consider adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water to help open your airways.
Hydrate During the Gig
Avoid drinking anything with bubbles, or anything cold during your performance. Bubbles tend to make you burp and feel bloated, and cold water will contract the vocal muscles, which will lead to muscle tension.
Blake recommends using a mix of warm water in a thermos with a slightly unusual mix of:
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of honey
Also avoid alcohol, as it dries your throat. If you must have a tipple, then try a spirit that will warm the throat like whisky or rum (neat).
If you can't quit the cigarettes, then at the very least try not to smoke for the few days leading up to the gig.
Don't Talk Too Loud
In fact, try not to speak at all before or during the gig aside from singing. If we have a long multi-set gig, then Blake will sometimes sit backstage or away from the crowds, while the rest of the band meets with the audience and fans. He's not being snobby - it's to save his voice. Also, crowds often have a smoker amongst them and it's best to avoid cigarette smoke.
Use Breaks During the Gig
If you are playing a long gig, then try shortening your sets to include more breaks. For example rather than playing 2 x 60 minutes sets, try switching to 4 x 30 minute sets.
Throat Sprays, Lozenges and Teas
Sprays such as vocal-eze can help, but consult your doctor to make sure it is safe for you and that you don't have any allergic reaction. Lozenges such as Vocalzone can help, but consult your pharmacist for the right lozenge for you. Vocalzone also have a great selection of vocal teas which can relax and warm the throat. Blake uses Vocalzone as they ship worldwide.
Your voice is your most prized instrument. Like any instrument it needs to be looked after to increase its longevity. Hopefully these tips can help you get through difficult gigs when you aren't feeling your best.