"I'm sorry my audition didn't sound so good. I have a cold."
"My allergies are bothering me today."
"I can't sing in rehearsal. I have a sore throat."
"Can we reschedule my lesson? My nose is stuffy and I can't breathe."
I have heard it all. Welcome to Autumn.
This is the time of year when the combination of dry leaves; the last remnants of cut grass; the rain; the cold/warm changes in weather; and the subsequent mold that comes with it all (Imagine all those dead leaves sitting in all that dead grass for weeks after it has rained. Mold Central.) It serves to wreak havoc on your respiratory system. So, what to do, when you have a rehearsal, a lesson, a show, and your voice (and/or your breath support) is not 100%, because of the change of season? Thankfully, there are lots of things you can do, and LAST on the list is to cancel your plans. Here are some of my best suggestions:
- Sleep. Get as much rest as you can. The better rested your body is, the more capable it is of fighting off any viruses that might try to make their home in you.
- Stay hydrated. Lots of folks will tell you to drink tea, and that's not a bad suggestion, since tea (especially green tea) has loads of good things that will help make your body and your voice feel better. But better than tea, better than any concoction that anyone can tell you to make, is good, ol', reliable H2O. Water. It's a singer's best friend. It keeps you hydrated, which is great, since the air is getting dryer and that's making your body dryer. But it also helps to flush out all the impurities that you're breathing in, like when you're taking a breath just as the person next to you sneezes. So bring water with you to your lessons and to your rehearsals. It's the best thing you can put in your body.
- Vocal Rest. No one like to hear this, but when your voice is not operating as it should, the thing to do is give it a break and let it heal itself. And when I say "give it a break", I mean a TOTAL break. If your voice it too ailing to sing, it is certainly too ailing to speak. And forget whispering. Whispering is actually worse for your voice than speaking, because that's just dry air passing around your vocal chords. Dry, sick, virus infested air. So don't do it.
That being said - and this is super important - GO TO REHEARSAL ANYWAY!! Lots of important notes get taken in rehearsal. Lots of things are learned in rehearsal. So even if you are on vocal rest, go anyway. Observe everything, or, in the case of a music rehearsal, LISTEN. Take notes on everything your director says, so you can continue to study and review, and there won't be anything that you may have missed. Obviously, it's important to let your director know that you won't be participating, but beyond that, sit, look, listen, take notes. And do it all silently!
- Wear a Scarf. Scarfs aren't just an accessory. They keep your throat and neck warm and protected. And if you're concerned about people around you being sick, put that sucker up over your mouth and let it act as a shield. Scarfs can be like your suit of armor. Plus they can add a pop of color to your wardrobe ... ;-)
So there you have it. Get lots of rest, drink lots of water, give you instrument a break and wear your scarf. And most of all, BE HEALTHY!